In the heart of New York City’s ever-so-mystifying Chinatown sits a hatter with mad skills, creating fabulous headwear. Alessandra Rivera launched her brand in 2011 armed with a BFA in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design and is taking the sartorial world by storm!
Does fashion ‘make’ the person or does the person ‘make’ fashion?
The person makes the style and this style makes the fashion. This exists for those who have a clear and confident vision from within.
In your opinion, are hats statement pieces? And if so, why?
Yes! They are an extension of ourselves, just like our clothing. What becomes the statement is our choice of apparel and how it makes us feel when we wear it.
What makes hats an essential part of any wardrobe?
Throughout history hats have been significant and a part of one’s identity as they outwardly share a point of view. Everyone needs at least one good hat.
How would you describe your style and what inspires it?
I am a designer-vintage junkie. I often wonder about who the people were that owned my pieces, and where were they going in them. I often go with the posh boyish look but when I go femme… I aim to seduce with style.
How do you get inspiration for your designs?
Design history and different world cultures are major influencers. Vintage finds inspire and provide me with the context of how couture pieces once were made. I’m also interested in the development of “happy accidents” and like to play and create many variations.
Who from the fashion world would you love to collaborate with?
Iris Apfel! The 90+ year old New York fashion icon with style that oozes out of her pores.
Is there such thing as the perfect one-hat-fits-all?
What a brilliant challenge! The New Yorker in me says if its black or mink colored, then there may be hope. But to say there is one hat for everyone is like saying everyone looks the same.
What do you think is the one hat style that every fashion lover should own? Why?
I call it the “everyday” hat. By that, I mean a neutral looking hat that can work with many different looks and styles. When the hat looks good with everything, you have found your winner.
Do you think there is validity in this statement: “My head is too big for a hat,” – and why?
I get this often! No, it’s just a matter of finding the best shape, fit and color for the person.
What does it take to become a style innovator?
A clear point of view.
What’s exciting right now in fashion?
The coolest thing right now is this epic video of Adriana Lima doing the “swerve” for Vogue. At some point my life will have 3 minutes like this.
Who or what has been your greatest fashion influence?
Alber Elbaz, formerly of Lanvin. I freelanced with Lanvin for over five years and taken in an abundance of inspiration and lessons in design and life. I focus on keeping my work unique to who I am as a designer and a human. Alber has been the best teacher and spiritual advisor of style.
Who are your favorite emerging designers, and what is it that you love about them?
Alibi @alibinyc: Minimal industrial jewelry pieces that are striking while natural and complementary when worn with each other. Handmade in New York. White Chalk @whitechalknyc: Bespoke menswear collection designed by Seville row trained talent Aaron Black. Alterre @alterreny: Modular shoe design for the girl on the go. Great for travel. Alix @alixnyc: Bodysuits redefined for the fashion inclined. Handmade in New York.
What is the highlight of your ‘style’ career so far?
Designing hats that have been auctioned off for various charities. It’s important to take care of those in need. It is something I’ve grown up doing and will continue to do when possible.
Every fashionality has as a style obsession, what’s yours?
I have a style-crush on the Masai warriors. They are beautiful people, with style based on their one of a kind lives. I’m fascinated with the prints, colors, textures, and how they mix them together and what they represent in their day to day life.
Do you follow any fashion influencers (Instagram/Blogs etc)? If so, who are they and which would you recommend?
Architect turned design connoisseur Shaun Nilsson, @supervice, has a discerningly well trained eye. We are presently collaborating on part of a series of curated design objects including apparel, furniture, and the like. French photographer Max, @maxwellaurelienjames, provides captivatingly fresh and striking imagery. Stylist and fashion editor for TWELVMAG, @RAW_ALNAIMI, showcases a unique mixture of fashion photography from different eras.
What item of clothing or accessory (if any) do you wish that people wore more often?
Hats of course! There is a resurgence in their popularity. A good hat can transform any outfit from ordinary to unique.
To be stylish is to be fashionable. True or False and why?
Yes, but there’s more to it. The aim is not to be fashionable, but to be yourself. Style and fashion are different entities. Style cannot be bought – fashion can – style is an innate part of one’s self.
While acquiring one of her hats is by appointment only – you can check out her beautiful creations on Instagram @alessandra_rivera_hats. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +1215 284 7322 if you’re ever in need of an incredible headpiece. You can also check out her website www.alessandrarivera.com for more.