When weavers of very fine Montecristi “Panama” hats finish weaving their hats, the hats have four to six
inches of loose straw fringe all around the outer edge of the brim. They are not ready to wear. To wear
a hat fresh from the weaver, and not be mocked, you’d have to be a superstar who can define style just
by wearing something, anything, in public.
Like, say, Whitney Houston at the peak of her career. And, yes, Ms. Houston did wear an unfinished hat – very publicly.
Bobby Brown bought a very finely woven, unfinished hat as a gift for her while they were staying at the Grand Wailea Resort on Maui. Yes, there were hundreds and hundreds of six-inch-long straws hanging down from the brim edge all around.
The outrageous-looking hat caught his eye in a hotel shop that sold my hats. Catching the eye was why I put the unfinished hat in the store. It was not intended to be for sale. It’s second purpose, beyond drawing attention, was to provide tangible, visible proof that weaving a fine hat is an incomprehensible task.
Bobby Brown saw his own vision. He saw it on Whitney Houston. He wanted to buy the hat. What’s the price? The store called me, I named a price (stupidly low; I’m a business idiot), and Mr. Brown bought it.
It must have been a good gift choice. She liked it well enough to wear it on a national TV special. Really. Whitney Houston wore an unfinished Montecristi hat, long straw and all, on a national network TV special.
She cut an opening in front of her face so she could see out, and so her fans could see in. Crazy-long straw most of the way around and “bangs” in front. Okay. Not a style I ever would have considered making. But maybe she was onto something.
I had more unfinished hats. I put one on and looked in the mirror, considering a new style possibility. I took it off. I just looked silly. Most everyone would.
I can’t sing, either.
That would have been fine, so long as Dr. Lecterjust bought the hat, and didn’t inviteme over for dinner.
Mr. Hopkins, himself, may have tastes as refined and sophisticated as Dr. Lecter. Certainly more refined than that wardrobe department.
Mr. Hopkins wanted to buy one, too. Of course he did. Who wouldn’t?
His mother wouldn’t let him.
She thought they were too expensive. Wrong. Probably the best value in the store, when you consider how many hours of skilled hand work goes into every hat.
They left without a hat.
Had I known, I would have been hugely disappointed.
Mr. Hopkins is a smart man, who knows what he wants. He also knows his net worth. He waited for his mother to take a nap, then went back to the store and bought himself a hat. Of course he did. Who wouldn’t?
There were no Simón Espinal hats in the shop, but the hat he chose was much, much closer to what Hannibal would have worn.
I’d have been okay if Mr. Hopkins, himself, had invited me over for dinner.