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When we sit down to chat, I ask Jacqueline if it's hard to get women who aren't "hat people" to wear hats. She says it is indeed difficult to convert people, and she thinks the reason is that Americans in particular are "hair-obsessed." After spending a fortune at the salon, and another fortune on hair care products, and then the time and fuss styling our hair--are we going to cover it? Of course, hats are the perfect solution to a bad hair day, but Jacqueline believes a hat should be regarded as essential an accessory as shoes. She says a look or outfit can appear incomplete without a hat.

Jacqueline also points out that there are not enough hat-wearing examples out there. "If you don't see enough people wearing them (hats), you're going to say ‘I'm not going to be the first one out there wearing them.’" If we saw more hats, Jacqueline believes, "we would be more comfortable about wearing them, and more willing to experiment."
Jacqueline's love of hats goes back to her earliest memories of childhood. Born in Manchester, England, the child of Jamaican parents, Jacqueline recalls hats playing an important role in her family's wardrobe since she was a youngster . "I've always loved hats, probably that comes from my father, because he always wore hats. He had a gazillion hats. He's Caribbean, and in the Caribbean men wear hats." Jacqueline's father wore fedoras, bowlers, golf caps, cotton hats--hats of all sorts. The islands of the West Indies that were once British colonies "adopted the formality of England," Jacqueline points out. "Caribbean men wear hats, and they tip their hat to a lady."
Jacqueline, her mother, and her sisters, wore hats on special occasions and to church. "We were Catholic, so we'd wear little hats to church with veils, like a mantilla. At (the age of) nine!"
When she was 11, Jacqueline and her family moved to the United States. She studied architecture at Pratt Institute, and majored in fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, both in New York. After college, Jacqueline sold fine Italian and Swiss fabrics for a firm in the garment district. Her hats illustrate this fusion of experience: their witty and chic design, their sophisticated structure, and their exquisite choice and use of fabrics.
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After working in textiles, Jacqueline wanted to start her own company, but soon discovered that "costs were out of control." She made her own hats to wear at night to go clubbing. Shortly after, she started making hats and scarves for a friend who owned a small chain of stores called Street Life. Customers’ response to Jacqueline's work was so positive, she was motivated to go back to school to take millinery courses. In 1994 she opened Jacqueline Lamont Millinery.

Plans for her Fall collection are in the works, and they sound exciting: knits made of chenille, cashmere, Mongolian lamb, in deep rich colors as well as very light tones. "The Twenties vibe will be very strong," she promises.
As we wrap up our visit, this dynamic young woman tells me she plans to go ice skating this evening, something she does at least twice a week. Jacqueline also fences and listens to an eclectic mix of music. She is married, and, at present, Jacqueline says, "my hats are my children."
Stylists for magazines, music video people, TV costume people, and movie costume people constantly use Jacqueline's hats. "I've been surprised more than once to see my hats on the soaps!"
Perhaps with personal clients like Cindy Crawford, Jodie Foster, Carly Simon, photographer Annie Liebowitz, Soul II Soul, Wyclef Jean, not to mention one of today's ultimate style setters, Lauryn Hill (Jacqueline makes lots of hats for Lauryn), Jacqueline Lamont hats may soon be on everyone's head.
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Jacqueline Lamont hats are sold at the following department stores: Barney's, Bendel's, Bloomingdales, and Saks Fifth Avenue, at the following New York City boutiques: Scoop, Selima Bond 07, The Hat Shop, and If, and in Santa Monica at Fred Segal. Lamont hats are also very popular in Japan, and are sold there in high-end department stores. Prices range from $50-$220.

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