It used to be that after-dark, sparkly, costumed events (and yes that includes weddings) were the only place for glamorous headgear. No longer. This last while, we’ve seen sartorial sophisticates taking street-style outfits to the next level with head-toppers of all shapes and sizes—from Lady Gaga to Alexa Chung, rhinestone sweatbands to hipster-flowered crowns.
Post-Royal Wedding fascinator craze, we’re squarely in the throes of the bead-and-glitter period of catnip of Downton Abbey and Boardwalk Empire, along with the silver-screen promise of Carey Mulligan as the doomed Daisy with to-die-for diamond headgear in the upcoming The Great Gatsby. But it’s not just the ’20s. We’re all over the place. There’s a touch of flower-child revival post-Coachella in the feathered headbands and floral crowns (à la Nicole Richie), too. Beyond era crossover, the headpiece has even mainlined into fairy world (Oz the Great and Powerful, specifically), where Michelle Williams with extensions and a kick-ass tiara will play Glinda the Good Witch. The widespread-ness of the trend hit home when I realized that in the past few months I have attended not one but two meetings that have involved an assistant in cat ears.
But long before Dolce & Gabbana’s wildly golden-crowned Fall 2012 collection, Toronto’s Lori-Anne Krausewitz was quietly stitching beads and delicately pliering vintage rhinestones to make her LaKrause one-offs in her West End live-work studio. “Living amongst my things is a big inspiration,” says Krausewitz of her perch on the third floor of a large Edwardian house on a quiet, leafy street. It has a cluster of small but airy rooms, including an enviable walk-in closet—rare in century homes and essential for storing Krausewitz’s vintage trophies and sizable custom-hat collection. Krausewitz, who studied sculpture and drawing at York University in Toronto, has always hunted antique clothing and jewellery. “There is something integral to the [vintage] piece. There is history, and there’s love and there’s craftsmanship that you don’t really see today,” she says.
In 2008, she began fashioning head wear from a collection of her grandmother’s old buttons at her dining-room table. A friend told her to take some of her pieces down to a store, and “it just kind of snowballed from there. At that time I was using a lot of feathers and netting.”
Flash-forward three years: On the day of Kate and Will’s nuptials in 2011, over a dozen emails landed in Krausewitz’s inbox. One client alone ordered up three cocktail pieces (“small, worn at the front of the head, somewhere between a hat and a fascinator”). She admits that the Royal Wedding really opened up the North American mind. “Now it’s a bit more mainstream. People aren’t so reluctant to try them on. When I first started doing bridal, it was feather and flower and very safe. Now I have clients who want more medieval chunky metal headpieces, even to wear out with girlfriends.”
Krausewitz, who comes from a family of artists and woodworkers, is self-taught. Her âge-d’or is turn-of-the-century Paris, with its elaborate headdresses of Folies Bergère. “Everything was hand-done!” she enthuses. LaKrause pieces are also all made by nimble fingers. “It’s really contemplative and it relaxes me,” she says, adding that she’s often listening to female jazz on vinyl—Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday—or The Pretenders, Fleetwood Mac and Brazilian psychedelic-rock band, Os Mutantes. “WFMU [radio] has an obscure rock and soul stream that I couldn’t live without either!” she says. “I’m at a point in my life where I’m using my head, my hands and my heart and making things that I absolutely adore and would wear myself.”