”Hat Designer, Akio Hirata” A Hat Just for You

”Hat Designer, Akio Hirata”

Haute couture hats – ”haute mode”

When foreign travel was still restricted, Akio Hirata traveled to France all on his own to apprentice under Jean Barthet, and later brought back his techniques to Japan. ”Haute mode” is haute couture for hats. The hats are customized: measured, designed and material selected to create a one and only hat.
Hirata came back from France and used his skills to create hats not only for Japanese fashion designers, but also for for Balmain, Nina Ricci, and other haute couture designers. His haute mode skills were recognized by the royal family of Japan, as well as other royals from around the world. He is still active at 87. In 2011, he was awarded the 29th Mainichi Fashion Grand Prix, and continues to be at the forefront of hat design.

The importance of handmade

We visited the studio of world renowned designer, Akio Hirata. His daughter, Ouko Ishida, also a hat designer herself, gave us a tour of the studio. The studio had many molds. Molds for all of the clients are stored here, and the material and design is selected, and the hats shaped once an order is placed. Of course, the corsages are also handmade. Care is given to the smallest of details, something not possible in off the shelf products.
We were shown a material that is essential to haute mode called ”spartre”. It is carved wood which becomes flexible when moist, making it possible to create an original mold for delicately designed hats. A mockup of the hat is created using spartre, then layers of cut spartre are applied to the inside of the mock up, to which a plaster is applied to create a wooden mold for the customer. Spartre is no longer manufactured, so it is a very valuable material.

Hats should be worn, not displayed

Hirata joined us as Ouko was telling us about the studio. His prestigious titles seem intimidating, but he was extremely soft spoken.
”Why don’t we get your measurements,” he suggested taking a look at Nakata’s head.
”You have more width at the back than the front. But you also have a protruding forehead, and it stop here.” he commented. Perhaps he already had an image of a hat for Nakata.
”I have a feeling most people don’t know their head measurements. People may have suits made, but most have never ordered a hat.” Nakata commented.
”There aren’t many occasions in Japan to enjoy hats. In Europe, there are many opportunities such as weddings, graduation ceremonies, etc.”
Nakata takes a hat made by Hirata and puts it on his head. Time passed quickly as they discussed how it looked great worn deeper in the front than the back, or how sometimes hats are difficult to combine with sunglasses.
”Hats should be worn, not displayed,” Hirata emphasized. The designer who established the basics of haute mode in Japan explained that hats bring out a person’s beauty. Hirata’s eyes were full of delight as he spoke.


Hirata Haute Mode Hirata
4-8-1 Nishi Azabu Minato-ku Tokyo
URL http://www.hiratatelier.com/