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wonders never cease Thursday, May 20, 2010

THURSDAY, MAY 20th, 2010hat geeks, part 2: pretty in parisisal, ab fab in abaca.

Maggie-2 side camhats We love to try to draw you, fair readers, into the lexicon of hats. It's so arcane, so romantic. And great cocktail conversation. Here, then, is the second in our occasional series about straws.

Parisisal is a fine handwoven straw, prized for its flexibility and elegance. The "pari" part refers to the 2 x 2 herringbone weave, and the "sisal" part is fiber from the Central American agave sisalana plant, the same stuff used in living room rugs, baskets and rope. Parisisal holds dye quite nicely, and its flexible nature is perfect for draping and molding intricate shapes.

HAT0007_lIt takes days for skilled artisans to weave a parisisal "hood" - the loose cone of straw from which a hat is created (hence the relative pricey-ness). Alas, the ranks of skilled parisisal-weaving artisans are dwindling.

sinamay5Abaca is a similarly fine, airy-weave straw, a darling of milliners with comlex designs. It comes from a species of banana native to the Philippines. Once generally called Manila hemp, the fiber was originally used for making twines and ropes as well as the Manila envelope.

Behold the works of art that can spring from these humble straws (with a little help from Philip Treacy & friends):provanhat1teracyhat3treacyhat1treacyhat2


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