Images: Darrel Hunter
Words: Darrel Hunter
Special thanks to Georgina Abbott at Atelier Millinery and Camellia’s Tea House.

 

Standing at 6’6” (198cm) it isn’t very hard to pick La Touché out in a crowd but it isn’t only his stature that sets him apart. His amazing sense of style and the ever present variety of hats that crown his head  certainly set him apart.
La Touché’s life is filled with vivid signs which suggest his love of hats is no accident. His earliest memories and inspiration appear to stretch wider and deeper than the brim of the black trilby hat which he perched on the table next me.
I caught up with La Touché on a lovely sunny afternoon in London for a chat, over a cup of tea of course, to find out how his love of hats began.

La Touché: “My love of hats dates back to when I was around 5 or 6 years old. My early memories were of my Grandmother helping my late Grandfather get dressed. On special occasions, when my Grandmother had finished dressing him, sometimes in a suit, he would ask me to go and fetch his hat for him. My Grandfather wore a trilby hat which sat perched on the top of a huge wardrobe. I recall climbing up the face of this wardrobe and stretching to retrieve this hat for him. For me when he was dressed in his suit, he was just Granddad; but once he put his hat on, he became a whole different person”.

ModeHunter: So in your eyes the hat changed his whole persona?

La Touché: That’s correct. I was completely fascinated by his hat. It amazed me how that one accessory could change a whole outfit. It was at that point that my passion for hats was born and I started to discover the many variations.

MH: So as you grew did your appreciation of hats grow with you?

LT: Most definitely! I went through various phases. During my early years, I lived in baseball caps; this was all I used to wear. I think I was also heavily influenced by Pharrell Williams at the time and so I sought out any hat featuring an embroidered ‘P’ on it: it could be a trucker hat, a snapback or fitted cap, whatever it was, I wanted it. I even went as far as calling myself “Skateboard P” at the time [laughs].

As I mature, I appear to relive my early childhood memories of my Grandfather by seeking out the older gentlemen style hats of the 1950’s and 60’s and incorporating these hats into my own style. I’m really enjoying the journey through the gentlemen’s style eras; I have a better appreciation for hats and what they represent than I did before. It isn’t just about trilby or fedoras, there’s also room for snapbacks, beanies or berets for example. I will even go into milliners and see a nice fascinator, I may not wear it but I can still appreciate its beauty.

MH: So do you have a favourite style or hat?

LT: My favourite style hat has to be the trilby. Just before my Grandfather passed away, he gave me one of his hats, which is a trilby so I have a certain attachment to it. He’d had this particular hat since the early 1940’s. Knowing my Grandfather as I do, I can say that this hat has survived many storms and so I wear it with pride. What’s surprising is that it is still in really good condition; when I take it to show various hat makers they comment on its high quality and age. One thing that I find really cool is that I am actually the same hat size as my Grandfather. How he knew at the time that his hat would fit me when I grew up is a mystery but I find it really interesting that we are both hat size 58.

MH: Do you have a favourite brand of hat?

LT: No not really, it is quite hard for me to stick to specific brands as I like hats as a whole so whenever I find something well made that I like, I tend to go with that. I really like what Lock & Co are doing. When it comes to the more commercial brands, I literally take my hat off to the likes of Brixton and Baileys: they are producing some unusual shapes and colours which are really impressive. Having said all of that, I don’t really have a favourite; I wear many different hats in the space of just a week.

MH: Do you find it difficult to source your hats around London or have you found a few options?

LT: There are quite a few quality milliners and hatters around London. I have been fortunate to learn from them the difference between a well-made hat and a cheaply made hat. For me the quality is very important as I like to purchase hats that are of good quality and made to last. Good aftercare of the hat is also important.

 

MH: If you were limited to wearing only two styles of hat for the rest of your life what would they be?

LT: Oh, that is difficult. I get excited by the hats I’ve seen worn by men in the Jewish community whenever I travel through Stamford Hill or Clapton in East London. I see their hats and I want to melt! It’s the shape, the size, the material, the wideness of the brim everything just excites me. The second choice would have to be a good trilby. Give me a nice wide brim and a good trilby and I’m set.

MH: In addition to being a hat aficionado you have your own unique, dapper style. When putting an outfit together, do you choose the hat to match the look or vice versa?

LT: It may sound really silly but the hat always comes first. For example the outfit I chose for the first day of LCM was centred on the bowler hat I was wearing. Traditionally bowler hats are quintessentially English. At its inception, it was a favourite among the working class of the early 1900‘s and then became very popular among formal gentlemen. A bowler hat deserves a full three-piece suit, whereas with a fedora or trilby I would be thinking more about smart/casual dress.

MH: So the hat is the foundation?

LT: I love hats more than clothes; as long as I have a hat on I’m happy.

MH: Are their any future plans to infuse all this love for hats into your own range of hats?

LT: I am currently working on a few things, collaborations and designs; I’ll be sticking to the hat universe rather than venturing further into the fashion environment. I would much rather have boxes of hats than a box of free clothing. I believe that my passion for hats will generate even more collaborations and opportunities. Also I am working with milliners, doing work experience there to learn more about the craft. I also had a talk recently with ‘Hat’, a premier hat magazine and even they were impressed by my dedication to hats, especially for someone at such a young age.

MH: I’ve noticed lately that you have been mentioning “Hat About Town” quite a bit on your social feed. What exactly is Hat About Town?

LT: Hat About Town is a movement celebrating hats, hatters and milliners. I didn’t want to start a blog because it is not something I just want to write about. I love hats so much that I realised that I needed somewhere to vent and release all of this energy. Hat About Town is about documenting the journey of hats through photography and prose. In ancient times, hats were used for practical reasons to provide shade. Moving into the 1930’s to 50’s, hats completed a uniform or finished an outfit on special occasions. Moving into the 60’s and 70’s people started wearing hats as fashion statements. What I want to do is bring that love for hats back and encourage more people to wear hats. People always have reasons for not wearing hats such as “my head is too big/small” or “it doesn’t go with my hair”. But once you establish your hat size you can wear any hat.

LT: Personally, I don’t think there is a limit when it comes to hats. It doesn’t matter what anyone says, as long as you love it and it looks good on you then you can wear it with confidence. That is what I want Hat About Town to be about, it’s there to inspire people to wear hats for the first time and if they already do, then to experiment wearing a variety of hats. It’s also a platform for the talented hatters and milliners who so often go unnoticed. There is no rule when it comes to wearing hats, as long as you are wearing the right size its cool. Be creative, adventurous and wear whatever you think compliments your character.

To find out more  visit www.hatabouttown.com