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A head for business

Explore the dazzling and surreal delights of Bucharest’s most exclusive hat maker at the Dog Work salon

November 2009 - From the Print Edition

Seated at the centre of a high-class Bucharest accessories boutique is the patron saint of milliners everywhere, the Mad Hatter.
Sharing tea with this Victorian clothier is a besuited rabbit, recreating the party scene from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland - but this time in headgear.
Laid on the table, every fairy cake, tea cup and even a cigarette and ashtray have been re-imagined as hats.
However, to bring some modernity into such a set-up, the bottle inscribed with the words ‘Drink me’ is not an elixir inducing shape-changing, but instead a bottle of Evian from a limited edition designed and packaged by Jean Paul Gaultier.
Bucharest may not seem the ideal location for an extrovert form of hat-making, but plastic artist and long-term city resident Kristina Dragomir has re-established the delicate art of millinery in the centre of Romania’s capital.
Fragile and precious objects, such as emu and game feathers, are combined with silk and felt in subtle arrangements to create unique designs for parties, weddings, fashion events and leisure occasions, even though Bucharest is sorely lacking in a horse-racing venue where ladies can show off the extraordinary headgear, such as Ascot.
Most of the elements are imported from London and China, but every hat is designed, arranged and finished by Dragomir herself in her atelier in the centre of the capital at Universitatii. There are extrovert materials and designs - including hats with aluminium shapes printed with iconic figures, as well as accessories including belts, ties, cummerbunds and purses in the style of international airmail letters.
The skill of hat-making has been lost in Romania over the last 60 years and there are now only a few artisans working in Arad and Constanta. Dragomir also says she finds it hard to find young apprentices to train. “They lack the time and patience to learn the trade,” she says.
Open since 2006, the Dog Work salon occupies a niche in creating bespoke hats to the style, personality and fit of each customer - with this service setting back a client between 65 and 150 Euro - a reasonable figure which would barely cover the cost for a headgear consultation in one of London’s more exclusive milliners.
Although she can cater for customers abroad, most of Dragomir’s customers are Romanian women around the age of thirty. “Romanian men are more conservative,” she says. “They do not tend to like being seen in public wearing eccentric hats.”

Michael Bird

‘Dog Work’
Showroom: 32 Strada Sperantei, Sector 2
Visits by appointment only
Tel: 00 4 (0) 743 105 107

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