May 21, 2012 11:21AM

Oyster #99: Laetitia Crahay

"To be independent, and not to have to rely on a man."

Unless you are a member of the royal family, you'd be forgiven for thinking that hats had their moment a long time ago. But Laetitia Crahay, the Artistic Director of French millinery house Maison Michel, is almost single-handedly bringing them back in. Crahay, who is also the Head of Jewellery and Accessories at Chanel (the parent company of Maison Michel), has her own unique approach to headwear: lace bunny ears, schoolgirl boaters and wide-brim felt hats. 

Alice Cavanagh: Why should women wear hats?
Laetitia Crahay: To play with fashion; to be different or to be elegant. And also to play with the rules — sometimes it is protocol to wear a hat and sometimes not.

What does a hat say about a person?
It depends on how the hat is worn. If a hat is worn on the street or at a wedding, it's a very different feel.

What has been your favourite Maison Michel collection so far?
I don't have a favourite. All the collections have been so different.

How many collections do you design a year for Maison Michel and Chanel? How do you manage to do so much?
I don't — I barely manage it all, with eight Chanel collections a year, two Maison Michel collections, two lookbook shoots with Karl Lagerfeld and a baby!

You must find it difficult to juggle work and having a child…
Yes!

How old is your daughter?
Theodora is ten months old.

Is it true you gave birth in just eight minutes? That sounds crazy!Yes, because it was a C-section. I gave birth with the Pixies and Lou Reed playing in the background.

Ah, that explains it. What is the most important lesson your mother taught you?
How to smoke elegantly, which is a very strange thing to teach your daughter! I will definitely not do the same with my daughter!

What is the most important thing you hope to teach your daughter, then?
To be independent, and not to have to rely on a man.

What sort of accessories did you wear as a teenager?
I wore scarf bandanas — it was the fashion at the time! And I also wore very nineties-style jewellery — in the grunge and Nirvana spirit — mixed with these long Indian earrings that I got from trips to Asia.

Where do you find your inspiration?
In music, art, trips… like everyone else, really. Inspiration never comes from sitting at a desk all day or from fashion directly.

If you were not a designer, what would you be working as?
A surgeon!

Which women have inspired you?
Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn, Patti Smith, Siouxsie, Louise Bourgeois and the choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.

Have you been influenced by the hats in any particular movies?
All the movies with Audrey Hepburn, especially Funny Face.

What is the best thing about being a woman?
Being able to give birth. And being more intelligent!

What is the worst thing about being a woman?
The oppression of women in the world and all the atrocities that go on, like violence and rape.

Do you have a favourite all-girl theme song?
'Girls Just Want to Have Fun' by Cyndi Lauper.

Photography: Maya Villiger

Alice Cavanagh

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