Monday, February 19, 2018

Meet Stefano Costabile & Steven Hats

Once again I must thank the internet and social media for introducing me to a gentleman and his exquisitely specialized product. Stefano Costabile (Steven) and I met on Facebook where my attention was caught by his hats. Personally, I find hats to be an almost necessity in winter and a wonderful accessory at any other time of year. 
designer: click image to enlarge

What struck me most about his work is that it just doesn’t look like every one else’s hats that one can find here in the USA. The styling, construction and fabric selection, including leather, are quite different from the general assortment that is available. Here in this country it’s all about baseball caps and knit “stocking caps” at lack of a better descriptor.

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Stefano Costabile is both milliner and sculptor. He produces women’s creations much in the feeling of the great fantasy milliners being that each one is a sort of sculpture and fantasy of his own creation and imagination. In a fashion world where lately fitting in has become more important than standing out, Stefano’s product is unquestionably one that rises above the crowd and demands to be noticed. 
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Before I introduce you to Stefan I urge you to have a look at what he does on his website ( and find out why I feel so blessed to not only know him but to wear and own his unique product. 
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Jeffrey Felner: Can you tell us how it came to be that you are now a hat maker/milliner?

 Stefano Costabile: I attended Liceo Artistico (high school specializing in art subjects) and the Academy of Fine Arts. I used to be a painter, sculptor and a scenographer. Some years later I felt I wanted more in terms of both money and personal satisfaction. I was looking for something to sell, but it had to be special. So I joined all my past experience and I thought about hats. It was a real challenge: in the South of Italy nobody had seen a milliner before. So I started to invest my time in discovering the world of hats that I have been wearing since I was I child. I travelled around Italy - Alessandria, Monza and Florence - where I learned how to use the felt machine.

Basically, for me, it represented a personal challenge aimed at verifying how good can be a man who has decided to re-invent himself. In order to become a hatter/milliner I had to revise my previous knowledge and create my own techniques, from tailoring to the plasticity of matter. I was looking for my own personal style. But, above all, I am an autodidact. So, if as a craftsman, I repair things, as an artist I make straw Sculptures for important events, such as the Melbourne Cup.
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JF: Do you have any style icons or mentors that have influenced you and your work over the years and why did you choose them?

SC: There are no icons, actually. But I was fascinated by Galliano and Jones on the occasion of their collaboration with Dior. It was fundamental for my culture and work. The same happened with Treacy moving from Lady Gaga to Armani.

I have observed all my potential inspirers, but nobody has really influenced my work. I looked at them, I thought about their techniques, but then I had to reset that knowledge in order to find my own identity. I perceive myself as an 'unfiltered' artist and I experience the emotion of art entirely: a hat is not merely a hat - it is the source of my thoughts' inspiration, of my cultural references, my own ideas, of the concept that I want to express.
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JF: If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would they be and why?

SC: Philip Treacy, Stephen Jones, Karl Lagerfeld, Giorgio Armani and Nicole Kidman.

It would be an explosion of style in my head!

So much mastery and elegance around my table! Wow! It would be amazing, dear Jeffrey!

Then she...Nicole; her style makes me crazy, her charming way to be a woman.
Wow! I can't think about it! It would be a wonderful dream!
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JF: What makes your product different than your competition and why do you choose this way?

SC: Firstly, I work felt by hand, trying to not alter the nap.

As regards couture, I work tailoring tissues. 

I use various assembly techniques when I make my hats/cups. For example, I do not iron or steam them. I only use my hands and my sewing machine; I complete all my hats with sartorial method, so they are soft to the touch and as comfortable and easy to wear as a stocking hat.

I have created my own way to work straw, so it is different from the others.

This is the reason why I feel different, even if I have not earned a penny in this world...but I believe I could achieve my goal because I am different, so unique.
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JF: What is the long range plan for your product? … Any other type of products or distribution and why?

SC: I am looking into many areas which might lead to improve my production and make my own brand a real matter. I would like to teach my artisan techniques in order to bring again a handmade product with my techniques and high quality tissues (to make a hat takes me 15/18 minutes). I would like to collaborate with tailor's shops to create hats 'made to measure'.

When I went to Australia I gave birth to a collaboration that regards my sculptures and ceremonial/wedding hats.

But, after eleven years, I am still an artist looking for fortune.
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Cappelleria Artigianale

Steven’s Hats di Stefano Costabile
via Panebianco 350

Cosenza +393381178574

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