Hat-maker turns fashion on its head

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Is it a hat — or is it a headpiece?

Hat-maker Anastasia Andino specializes in a dainty little accessory adorned with feathers, netting, and lace dubbed a fascinator — a type of headgear that oozes with style and is the perfect way for Brooklynites to channel their inner Her Royal Highness Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge and British gentry.

Andino founded Brooklyn hat company La China Loca in 2007 with a major millinery mission to re-introduce not-so-common hats into common-folk fashion.

“I make dress-up hats,” she said. “More and more people are interested in putting things on their heads to finish their outfit. [A dressy hat] just elevates their idea of who they are or their element of style.”

According to the high-end haberdasher, it’s a good time for hats.

Andino said she’s sold more hats in the last year than ever before, and traces the trend to TV period-dramas like “Mad Men” and “Boardwalk Empire,” which show ladies and gentlemen alike donning heady toppers as part of their everyday attire.

“People see that style and want to emulate that,” she said. “I definitely want to be part of that wave and show people that they can wear hats again. In the U.S., when we see hats, it’s usually a baseball cap, which is the highest-selling hat in this country, or a cold weather hat. And those are not my hats!”

Instead, hats by La China Loca — which are handcrafted at Andino’s Williamsburg studio — are gestural mini-masterpieces formed in feather, felt, fur, lace, and leather, and they mean to inspire.

“It’s amazing when you put a hat on someone’s head and their eyes light up and they’re a transformed version of themselves — they become this alter-ego,” Andino said. “It’s so exciting.”

La China Loca hats have crowned the heads of musicians and performers including Madonna, Drake, and Grace Jones, and appeared on runways during New York Fashion Week and its rebellious, fun-loving kid sister Williamsburg Fashion Weekend.

On Dec. 15 and 16, La China Loca will be at Williamsburg Fashion Weekend’s Holiday Market, alongside 19 other high-end Brooklyn designers slinging local fashions including leather goods by Apartment 4b, bags by Himane Sustainable Designs, and clothing by IQ Test.

“Most of the pieces [at the market] are one of a kind, and made by the designers themselves, or in a small factory somewhere in the city,” event organizer Nathalie Kraynina said. “It’s also great because you can shop with a clear conscience.”

To Andino, a Brooklyn native, the Williamsburg Fashion Weekend designers make up part of a growing creative community.

“Brooklyn in general is having a real renaissance and this is part of it. There’s a lot more creative things happening here than in the Lower East Side, where it used to be,” she said.

“I’m really proud of Brooklyn.”

La China Loca at Williamsburg Fashion Weekend Holiday Market [Bird River Studios, 343 Grand St. between Marcy Avenue and Havemeyer Street in Williamsburg, (718) 782–1791, www.williamsburgfashionweekend.com]. Dec. 15, 16, 11 am–7:10 pm.

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