Fedora, trilby and slouchy hat: they are all part of the daily bread of fashionistas and turn an ordinary outfit into a look with extra class. However, the golden age of big hats seems to be over and hatters in Europe fear for their existence. In Luxembourg, a little bit of hat love has survived.
"You have to be a little crazy, otherwise you don't become a hatter." With a lot of wit and humour, Marco Laux tells of straw hats and the fancy head accessories calles fascinators, of cowboy hats made of beaver fur and mouldable felt fabric, and of a profession that hardly exists any more. Since 2000, the trained modiste master has been running the hat shop with atelier in the "Louvignysgaass". While Modes Nita once had several shops in Luxembourg, the family business is now the last of its kind, as hat making has long since ceased to be one of the most sought-after professions.
"When my wife Sandy took the master craftsman's examination seven years ago, she was one of the last five in the whole of Germany to take it, " reveals the 53-year-old. He was also a rarity in his class at the time, because when Marco decided to quit his carpentry apprenticeship and become a milliner in the 80s, it initially caused great astonishment. "At that time, modiste was actually still a woman's profession, but that didn't bother me one bit, because I've been frolicking among hat boxes since I was a little boy", says the milliner. In 1968, Marco's aunt Irene Schneider-Kieffer had founded Modes Nita in Esch, so hats have a long tradition in the family.
The hat icons named Hepburn, Bogart and Chaplin
But the profession of the milliner or the hatter has moved into the background in recent years, because the golden days of wearing hats belong to the past in Luxembourg. "In the 50s every man wore a hat, but with President Kennedy this era came to an end. 'Kennedy killed the hat' is what we say in the industry, even if, conversely, it wasn't a hatter who shot him", Marco says with a wink. As the first American head of state not to wear headgear, Kennedy sparked a change in the fashion world. His wife Jackie's famous pillbox hat, on the other hand, is still in demand by fashion enthusiasts today.
"There are a few such style icons in the hat industry, be it Audrey Hepburn with her cloches, Humphrey Bogart, after whom a hat shape was even named, Charlie Chaplin, who coined the bowler hat, or Maurice Chevalier with his canotier. After that came a few more, such as Michael Jackson or Udo Lindenberg, but all stars of the older generation", says the master milliner. In the hat atelier in the city, however, the somewhat dusty image of headgear does not have an impact, because here, hats are still made with passion.
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The last hatter
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