When it comes to headwear, Parisian fashion accessory extraodinaire, Laetitia Crahay, needs to take a bow. She’s not just reinvented the art, she’s taken it out of obscurity and re-popularised it – with a little help, she’s the first to admit, from her fabulous friends.
Heidi Mount, Lou Doillon, Kate Moss, Milla Jovovich, Irina Lazareanu, Lara Stone and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have all been featured in Crahay’s hotted-up hats and headpieces in the illustrated campaign for Maison Michel – the historic French millinery house for whom she acts as Creative Director, alongside her role as Accessories and Jewellery Director at Chanel.
Marrying sophistication with humour, Crahay’s repertoire for Maison Michel, covering classics from boaters, trilby’s and wide-brimmed hats to off-beat wonders like bows and her signature bunny ears, are designed to cater to every whim. Whether you’re feeling rock’n’roll, romantic, or even “naughty sexy bunny”, Crahay’s characteristically playful and refined designs will take you there. “Headpieces have the power to ‘débourgeoiser’ a classic look,” she considers, “…You can have a rock’n’roll chignon.”
Drawing inspiration from, “every possible detail… Anything from a crack in the wall to the way a tree branch moves,” Crahay has magically made the seemingly impossible, possible – taking something as old-hat as hats, and making them new again. The effortlessly chic designer, workaholic and party-girl talks early obsessions with bandanas and 80s neon colours, loving Alice in Wonderland and filling the “huge gap” in the market for modern headwear with Indigo Clarke.
Hi Laetitia, how are you? We loved your look-book for Maison Michel featuring friends including Lou Doillon, Kate Moss, Milla Jovovich, Irina Lazareanu, Lara Stone and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen – can you explain how that came to life ?
Laetitia Crahay: I am good, thank you! I am lucky to have so many pretty, inspiring and famous friends. It just sort of happened naturally, the thought of including them in my work. I asked them very nicely if they would want to take part in the lookbooks, and with that, a creative emulsion happened. It was very interesting, and I think it comes out clearly in the images – such a strong team of people involved. I asked Karl if he would also like to be part of it… Well, and the rest is history!
Before you came along, there was a gaping hole in the market for playful and refined headwear. You’ve been credited with revamping, and even popularizing, headwear (and we’re obsessed with the bunny ears!) – why do you think people have been so receptive to your designs?
Laetitia Crahay: Well, its like you mentioned, there was such a big gaping hole in this market, there was definitely a need and desire for people to wear beautiful hats and refined headbands. Before, there was only those bad huge 90’s hats… It was really time for a change ! I developed the products in a niche market, and then it kind of flourished on its own. And hopefully people have been so receptive to what I design because they really love it!
You often wear your own pieces – which are your favourites, and where do you wear them?
Laetitia Crahay: For everyday, I love to wear the Angélique headband, it’s quite simple and easy to wear. And for evening, I like to go all out with the bunny ears or the veils.
How does it make you feel to wear certain pieces, they are all so unique and have such personality – refined, rock’n’roll, sexy, playful…
Laetitia Crahay: It really depends on my mood in the morning. If I want to be rock, I will wear the tiger headband, for romantic, I wear the goddess-like headbands and when I feel like being a sexy bunny, I wear the ears! I play in my everyday life, just like an actress, and luckily I get to do that with Maison Michel. And I don’t limit the playfulness to hats or headbands, the same goes with clothing!
You often collaborate with friends and are part of an exciting fashion movement in Paris – what are you involved in besides accessory design, other projects or passions?
Laetitia Crahay: Well, my friends and life are not only in Paris, it’s all very international. Each period in history had their movements and stars – my friends and I are a gang that all work in the same industry, and the most important thing is that we all help each other out. It really is a creative gathering. At the same time as being artistic director of Maison Michel, I am also head of accessories and jewelry at Chanel and both jobs keep me very busy. And so I would say that my passion is Karl Lagerfeld!
What is your all-time-favourite piece of clothing, accessory or outfit?
Laetitia Crahay: I don’t know if I can choose just one piece in particular, but Chanel and Olivier Theyskens remain my favourite designers.
Can you give us a hint as to what to expect from your AW11/12 headwear and accessories for Chanel and Maison Michel ?
Laetitia Crahay: Yes, just a little hint… All I can say is, very feminine, refined and 50’s inspired.