For anyone who isn’t in the know, the world of fashion can be a baffling place. As insectoid models strut moodily along a glass walkway, you could be forgiven for thinking that the entire industry is just a ruse for a race of intellectually and physically superior super beings to plot an overthrow of the rest of us. That theory certainly makes more sense than some of the outfits.
But, for all the ridiculous things that the catwalk has produced over the years, a new trend seems to have taken both the proverbial and the literal silly biscuit. Maverick milliner and Israeli fashion designer Maor Zabar has taken a radical departure from the normal fodder of shoes and dresses, and has instead given birth to a range of exclusively designed, fast food-focused hats.
The collection contains an extraordinary array of work, from a hot dog fascinator replete with glittering Svarowski crystal ketchup, to a towering stack of apparently Simpson’s inspired donuts and pastries. This is a celebration of American food culture, done in a wearable way that no one in their right mind could have possibly seen coming.
Speaking about his latest series, Zabar revealed that the fast food theme was no accident. The decision to portray succulent, melting, almost motive subjects was an act of exploration as much as it was art. As a victim of Crohn’s disease, Zabar is unable to eat any of the burgers, fries and sundaes that he has recreated in hat form. His fabrics and felts were the only way that he felt able to understand the fast food industry that he yearned to partake in.
A trained designer, Zabar’s path to bonnet-based brilliance was beset by difficulties from the outset. Though he had enjoyed success as a dressmaker in Israel, he knew that his real passion lay higher up the body. However, he was frustrated by the lack of hat making tradition and expertise in his homeland, and had to work tirelessly to find a tutor capable of giving him the instruction he needed. Eventually, he was successful and the rest is history.
The hats themselves are impressive feats of construction. Thanks to the hefty collection of materials needed to build a realistic burger, round bases and “pillboxes” are required to keep them upright. After they’ve been sculpted, the felt is then painted to give the finished item a realistic and lifelike vivacity.
Zabar’s work has always had a strong thematic direction. His early collections had an emphasis on healthy foods, such as sushi and salads, but he has since gone on to explore a range of material. Zabar has set everything from carnivorous plants to cobalt corals on top of people’s heads and firmly believes that a hat can do so much more than keep your head warm, In the right hands, it can help send a message.
The world seems to agree. Zabar’s hats have been featured in exhibitions and museums across the world, and every new collection attracts considerable international attention. Though he still works with more traditional materials on occasion, his heart is clearly with his head. On behalf of fashion-mad hat enthusiasts everywhere, we tip our hats to Maor Zabar.