Israel-based hatmaker Maor Zabar‘s creations are statement hats, and that statement is, “I’m a silly hat!”
Zabar, known for his bold surrealistic style, has dressed Eurovision winners, and he started making hats about six years ago. Zabar’s hats walk the fine line between art and fashion and are outlandish, playful, and mostly, very expensive.
But if you’re attending a royal wedding, the Kentucky Derby, or a hat-themed videoconference with office mates, there’s a Maor Zabar hat with your name on it. (After you’ve Sharpie’d the brim).
Why get a hat in these times? Because eventually the Kentucky Derby (and its parties) will return. Because we’ll eventually go outside again. And, because the right hat can scream what you’re feeling what you can’t tell your coworkers in those endless Zoom meetings.
Your hat could say, “I am a Dr. Seuss fan and I’m also very high on E!” or, “Cheers, professional athletic team representing a city I associate with!” While an elaborate hat can say something commensurately complicated, perhaps along the lines of “I care about the environment and am inviting birds to consider landing here.”
We sat down (figuratively, our body only knows how to stand) with couture milliner Maor Zabar to find out the inspiration for his wild hats and share a few of our faves that we can’t afford.
Q&A with Designer Maor Zabar
How’d you get started making hats?
Maor Zabar: I started as a costume designer and added hats to my projects. Six years ago, I became dissatisfied with making just costumes, so I started to make hats just for fun. I needed an outlet to be my own person, to not be subject to directors’ requirements. I found hats to keep myself sane.
What inspired the “Food” collection?
My first hats became the food collection. I chose food because I had been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I had to go on a strict diet. I could live out my fantasies with these hats. Whatever I couldn’t eat, I made into hats.
I also made a collection called “Fast Food” with pizza, hot dogs, and burgers. It’s a commentary on American pop culture, a celebration of American food. I have family there, and I love spending time there. Israel is very inspired by American culture.
I tried to convey the grease and fat, the ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard. I glorified the liquidy parts, covering them in Swarovski crystals.
What occasions do you expect customers to wear your hats for?
I come from theater, so I never think about the practical aspect of my hats. They’re fantasy and escapism. I hope people who love them buy them and that they buy them for occasions— for horse races, red carpets, or luncheons.
One customer told me that they bought my hats for her daughter’s engagement party. The mother was a baker, and the daughter was a caterer. The daughter got the shrimp hat, and the mother got the pie.
One time someone bought the sunny-side-up egg hat for a gala event in New York, two girls got the hot dog and the fish in the net for a gay event. Usually, they’re for galas or red carpets. But some people buy them just because they want them or to add to a collection.
Do you have recommendations for how to pick a hat?
People tell me they’re not a hat person, that hats never fit them. I hear that a lot. But for me, it’s about loving what I see. If the hat speaks to me, if I connect to it — whether it’s a fantasy hat or an everyday hat — I’ll make it fit.
People don’t feel comfortable with some hats because they don’t want to be noticed; they don’t want people staring. You can’t ignore a hat, and they might be a bit intimidated by that.
But if you see something you like, try to feel comfortable in it. It’s not whether it fits you or not. It’ll fit you if you want it to fit you. That’s the rule I live by.
What hats do you wear?
I have a large collection – more than 50 hats. I travel a lot to teach workshops and to showcase my work. I try to buy one hat every time I meet another hatmaker, so I come home with tons of hats.
I love different colors, textures, materials, and styles. I have hats for everyday wear and for when I go out at night for events. I love to match my hat to my outfit.
7 Ridiculously Amazing Silly Hats by Maor Zabar
1. “Super Size Me Fascinator, $1,699
Part of the “Food” collection and inspired by America’s finest cuisine, this burger and fries combo meal is still more understated than Morgan Spurlock’s movie of the same name.
2. Feed Me Headpiece, $1,700
Zabar’s “Carnivorous Plants” line is his artistic take on the conflict between meat-eaters and vegans. But wear this Venus fly trap “Little Shop of Horrors” homage, and you’ll likely find yourself in conflict with the person sitting behind you at the theater.
3. Bucket Hat with Pleats, $200
This reasonably priced bucket hat is pleated in reference to the vents of the medical masks that have become ubiquitous during these times. It’s also a subtle reminder of how awful Jamiroquai was.
4. Octopus Fascinator, $1,500
In need of a new pet? Preferably a really clingy one you don’t have to feed? Then take a look at this fascinating tentacled chapeau.
5. Rachel Fascinator, $299
The “Rachel” is, unfortunately, not the hat version of the “Friends” episode “The One With Brad Pitt.” Zabar named this ostrich feather-laden Peter Pan-y topper for the woman in his studio who gave him the mold he used for it. Her name is Margaret.
6. Bow Tie Hat, $450
Once popularized by Cruella de Vil cosplayer Sia, huge bow tie hats are so 2016. But this huge bow tie hat is a wedding hat, so it’s, like, timeless and stuff.
7. Coronavirus Hat, Not Yet Available
Zabar’s has kept himself busy during quarantine by creating COVID-inspired hats. His works-in-progress include hats made of swabs, rubber gloves, face masks, and a roll of toilet paper. This particular hat resembles the world’s least welcome virus since ILOVEYOU.