At D’ESTRËE we wanted to share the backstage of the hat fabrication… Pretty easy actually: we invite you in Paris, not too far from our showroom (but on the other Seine bank) in one of our ateliers. We only work with French craftsmen who do every step by hand, reproducing the historical gestures of their ancestral masters: actually, not a lot of changes in the making since the beginning of the 20th century!
The hat making process starts with the raw material: a rabbit felt cone. This cone will go through successive stages: first it is being wet. It is this combination of water and heat that will allow to shape the felt to the desired look. Rolled into a plastic, the cone will stay for a few minutes to humidify completely. During this time, the craftsman prepares the primer, the technical liquid that gives the final rigidity to the hat. You may have guessed it, the more primer you apply, the more rigid the hat will be. The rigidity is not a matter of quality, it is a matter of taste. At D’ESTRËE we do prefer hats with stiffness, so we do not spare primer!
At this stage the felt cone is humidified again but with boiling water steam: it becomes so soft and smooth … the perfect time (but very short time!) to shape it with the appropriate wooden molt. If the craftsman takes too much time, he has to go through the whole process again!
We are using wooden molts, following the traditions of the milliners. These molts have an inside rebord that will allow the craftsman to use a wooden ring or a stretch rope to maintain the felt.
On this picture a beret was in fabrication: so the milliner uses a wooden ring, that is pined all around. The hat stays the whole night to dry and to get to its final shape. This time guarantees the quality of our hats, a necessary and incompressible time…