It wouldn't be wrong to consider the most perfect hats created by the best milliners out there as architectural constructions, but it doesn't often happen that an architectural practice designs a hat. Zaha Hadid just did so creating a piece for the Friends of the High Line in New York City.
Founded in 1999 by community residents, the organisation fought to turn an abandoned freight rail line into a public park at a time when the historic structure was under the threat of demolition.
The park receives today over 7 million visitors a year: though owned by the City of New York, the High Line is maintained, operated and programmed by Friends of the High Line, in partnership with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.
This means that the group puts together a series of public activities supporting the communities of the High Line, raising nearly 100% of the High Line’s annual budget.
Tomorrow the Friends of the High Line will be hosting a special event dedicated to millinery and entitled the Hat Party. Drawing inspiration from the historical trajectory of ball culture as well as the clubs and parties that have inhabited the Meatpacking District and Chelsea, the Hat Party will include dramatic festivities, a competition and a dance party. Guests are encouraged to showcase their creativity through headdresses.
Friends of the High Line partnered with local NYC milliners to create High Line-inspired hats and people can currently bid on the pieces to support this very special public space.
While a few years ago the High Line inspired a fashion collection by Hane Mori, Zaha Hadid Architects opted for a futuristic accessory celebrating Friends of the High Line's ongoing commitment to their community.
Dubbed the H-Line hat, the design - produced in dégradé colours evoking in its combination of white melting in an electric blue around the brim the colour of the sky (the only reference to nature in the hat that comes in a rubber-like material) - is inspired by the 11-storey 520 West 28th residential building, the first project by Zaha Hadid Architects in New York, located near the High Line.
The hand-crafted steel façade of the building features a series of interlocking chevrons referencing Chelsea's industrial past, plus steel bands and rounded glass corners. The decorative motif on the H-Line hat echoes these chevrons, weaving around the wearer open and closed forms.
While this is obviously a one-off project for Zaha Hadid Architects, it would be interesting to see if this practice or any other architectural studio all over the world would be keen on working with a hat maker or a milliner and come up with a capsule collection of headdresses. Who knows, something along these lines may happen in future if companies such as Borsalino (that went bankrupt last December) will be bought by a powerful fashion group (à la LVMH...) willing to revamp it through some innovative project and collaboration.
Images 1 - 5 and 7 - 9 in this post by Luke Hayes