Stylish hats are the surprise hit accessory for spring

6 magnificent Canadian milliners that will persuade you to become a hat person.

6 magnificent Canadian milliners that will persuade you to become a hat person

From wide-brimmed straw hats at Chanel to structured felt hats at Gucci and Maison Margiela, the must-have accessory of the Spring/Summer 2019 season might just be a superlative everyday hat that demands to be incorporated into all your favourite outfits.

Unlike the fantastic, runway-only creations and fanciful fascinators that designers often show with their most elaborate gowns, this new crop of headwear is intended to be styled with day dresses, workwear and other clothes for real life. And, beyond sun coverage, their eye-catching shapes and unique proportions add depth and personality to the simplest of looks.  

Not sure if you can pull it off? Besides confidence, the other important factor in adding a hat to your style routine is to find a style that fits your head properly, and is flattering to your hairstyle and face shape. The process is simply a matter of trial and error, and it doesn't hurt to place trust in the expertise and experience of a milliner whose work you love. A good hat is an investment of both time and money — a handcrafted, made-to-order hat will cost a few hundred dollars — but done right, it may result in a purchase that you'll be able to cherish and wear for decades to come.

With that in mind, here are six Canadian hatmakers to seek out.  


Designer Samantha-Tara Mainville launched Heirloom in 2015, and every design sold by the label is handmade in the company's Montreal workshop. There are felt hats with suede caps, beautifully shaped straw hats, embroidered berets and accessories such as hair bows and headbands. Her structured designs have a timeless sensibility, and are offered in the most beautiful, quirky colours.

Harbin, $240,

David Dunkley Fine Millinery

Long-established as one of Toronto's top milliners and experts on the topic of fascinators and special-occasion headpieces, David Dunkley's stylish hats have appeared in countless fashion shows and magazine shoots. But beyond the showpieces, Dunkley also offers elegant, handcrafted creations and even millinery workshops at his Bathurst Street studio and boutique.  

Lady Elizabeth, $485, to inquire

Maryam Keyhani

Toronto-based artist and designer Maryam Keyhani has long been known for her whimsical, delightful hats and headpieces. Now she offers a number of unique designs, mostly in straw, on a newly-launched website. There's even one all-white style, Victorian Dreams, that's described as "A Hat That Took So Long It Can't Be Made Again".

Stacked Straw Hat, $375,

Lilliput Hats

Milliner Karyn Ruiz has been making hats for almost three decades, and her designs have been worn by celebrities such as Rachel McAdams and Whoopi Goldberg. At Lilliput Hats, she offers both custom and readymade hats and headpieces for men and women, and every style is handmade in Toronto.

Max Fedora, $275,

Tierre Taylor

Tierre Taylor fell in love with millinery after taking a course at George Brown College; she studied with a hatmaker in New York state before launching her eponymous label. Her turbans and straw and felt hats stand out for their wonderful colour combinations, interesting shapes and fine craftsmanship.

Tangerine, $285, to inquire


Launched in 2016, this Montreal-based label offers edgy men's and women's hats that offer unexpected details such as grommets and hand-stitched "scars". A few styles even feature recycled materials, and selected pieces from their collection are available at Simons' Fabrique 1840 online marketplace.

Lego, $300,

Truc Nguyen is a Toronto-based writer, editor and stylist. Follow her at @trucnguyen.


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