On Via degli Scipioni is a delightful millinery shop called Antica Manifattura Cappelli. It’s one of the oldest hat workshops in Rome, which was originally founded by the Cirri family in 1936. The shop has been featured in prestigious publications such as Vogue Italia and has collaborated with various stars in the world of theater, film, and fashion. In 2003, Patrizia Fabri took over the business of maintaining important tradition and mastery at this creative establishment that contributes to the dictates of fashion.

The main strength of this atelier is custom hat design. More than just a simple retail transaction, it is collaboration between the customer and the couture milliner.

You might begin by perusing the immense collection of ready-made hats available in the storefront and trying them on, like I did. Afterwards, the designer will ask a variety of questions about the occasion the hat is for and what colors and fabric you prefer? Are you trying to match this hat to an outfit or two?

The customer’s head is then measured in inches to determine the perfect place for the hat to rest properly. Coincidentally, while we are watching a demonstration about this, I spotted an antique device off to the side, used for measuring one’s head, that more closely resembles a torture device. Although this unique piece of machinery is no longer in use, other traditional methods still are. For instance, we watched in amazement as a master milliner shaped a piece of black felt into a gentlemen’s top hat using only his hands, a hat block and steam. He carefully kneaded the material to shape the crown and brim perfectly, before resting it atop the head of a delighted visitor.

You don’t need to be Lady Gaga or Madonna (both clients of the atelier), to have your head adorned with impeccable style. Whatever your fancy, this historic artisan will have you turning heads.

For more information visit Project ERE.

“Farmboy in Roma” is a blog series by FBFA Acquisitions Manager, Fatima Travassos, which offers readers a rare glimpse into the studios of some of Rome’s top artisans. A special thank you to the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Western Canada for offering FBFA the opportunity to participate in this unique experience.

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