When’s the last time you saw a man wearing a hat other than a baseball cap? (Miller’s Crossing doesn’t count.) For BB, it was a party this past weekend, when a friend arrived sporting a fantastic, narrow-brimmed, felted dress hat.
He got it in Williamsburg of course — but not in a store. The maker, Anastasia Andino, works out of her studio, and right now the main way she’s spreading the word about her hats (besides her own clients and online) is by hosting monthly, DJed parties at the QT Hotel in Midtown, where you can swim or sweat in the lobby’s pool and co-ed sauna, cocktails in hand.
It’s an odd marketing plan, but totally fitting for Andino. The Brooklyn native, whose Chinese mother and Puerto Rican father are to thank for her striking looks, has a backstory that zigs and zags. En route to hand-blocking, dying and sewing her own hats, she studied fine arts, was a performance artist, became a fitness trainer, won an arm wrestling tournament, and began a serious yoga practice before enrolling in F.I.T.’s millinery program, which she left early to launch her hat business, La China Loca, eight months ago.
Initially inspired by 19th century men’s hats — like Malcolm McDowell’s bowler from A Clockwork Orange, the fedoras from gangster films — she riffs upon vintage styles using traditional materials like felt and wool, and unusual choices like recycled denim, burlap, and woven paper. (She makes hats for women too, from 1920s-style cloches to funky cocktail hats, but enjoys the men’s styles more.)
“All of the hats have a little attitude and are a little bold,” says Andino, who likes to silkscreen quotes from luminaries like Dr. Seuss and Eleanor Roosevelt inside her hats and on the ribbons around them. (We think Andino’s quote-less hats, with her signature embellishments — striped ribbons, snaps, painted quills — are statements enough.)
You can contact her through her site, anastasiaandino.com, about her current stock or to custom order hats, which range in price from $175-$275. (Two weeks, in time for the Kentucky Derby, is all she’ll need.) Or you can meet her in person at the QT Hotel, this Monday, April 21 from 7 pm to 2 am for a sneak peak at her floppy spring hats — and a swim.
Industry Dip 5, Hotel QT, 125 W. 45th St., hotelqt.com. Open rum bar 7-8 pm.