"I Create Wearable Art"
Thanks to a certain royal newlywed, fashionable women everywhere are wearing a lot more hats than they used to. This is great news for designer Satya Twena, whose bespoke haute hats have become a favorite of socialites and celebrities with an eye for the dramatic. The New York-based designer who grew up in southern California says her previous experience as an interior designer as well as growing up in an artistic family are the two greatest influences on her intricately constructed, eye-catching hats and hair accessories. "I create wearable art," says Twena. "Our bodies are our canvases, and the way we decorate them enables us to tell a story to the outside world." On Oct. 20–22, the designer is visiting Marissa Collections in Naples to give her clients here a special preview of her latest collection.
It’s great that you’re visiting Naples. What do you like best about meeting customers and working with them?
I love meeting women who appreciate and enjoy a handcrafted hat. The women of Naples are sophisticated, well traveled and, most importantly, confident. I find inspiration through my clients, and our interactions always make me a better and smarter designer. I learn a lot from my clients and highly value their opinions and design input.
Hats are back at the forefront of fashion thanks in part to Kate Middleton. What do you think of her style? Have you been inspired by her?
I am extremely grateful for Ms. Middleton’s influence in the hat world. She has really helped women in America explore what I consider the best, most underappreciated accessory. Before the royal wedding, few women knew the word "fascinator." Now, every client who calls asks specifically about fascinators. I find the duchess’s style simple and classic; she uses her headwear to accentuate and flirt by wearing pieces that are sculpturally interesting and romantic.
What do you consider your signature style?
Romantic and sculptural. The pieces in my collection are wide in range. Some are super romantic while
others can be more artistic, an expression of a moment in time. Overall my pieces are always flattering and beautifully comfortable.
What was your inspiration for this collection? What are the key pieces a woman needs in her wardrobe for fall?
My inspiration is Southwest Florida and the lovely women who call it home. There is a sophistication and ease that I have witnessed when I travel to Florida, which I have tried to capture in this collection.
Every woman should own three essential styles. One, a packable visor—one should always have a piece that shields the sun. I make one out of paglina, which is a fine Swiss braid. She also should have a fascinator or "whimsy" that makes her feel like a million bucks. It’s really the best accessory. And, finally, everyone needs a colorful winter hat (like my Jennifer hat), which is a must for when you are traveling to colder climates to enjoy the change of season.
Did you always know you wanted to be a designer? Why hats? Who were the designers you admired growing up?
I had no idea what I wanted to be. I thought I wanted to be a doctor, but chemistry was extremely challenging and not artistic enough for me. At Wellesley College it seemed like everyone around me knew what they wanted to be (particularly those who were planning on being doctors, lawyers or bankers). My mother gave me the best advice and told me to focus on being interesting and worldly. I was always creative and come from an eclectic artistic family, but it wasn’t until my mid-20s that my creative energy started to manifest itself. I played with many mediums before I came to hats. It was an instant romance.
Growing up I admired—and still love—Dries Van Noten, Oscar de la Renta and my aunt Claudia, who has her own fashion label in Los Angeles called Grau. All designers express their points of view, which are unique and creative visions.
"Luxury" has come to mean so many different things. How do you define it? What role does it play in your collections?
To me, luxury means smart design that allows for flexibility and comfort. It plays an important role in my collection. My hats require minimal thinking and ultimate comfort. It’s not luxurious if you have to spend a lot of time or energy fussing with your hat. I make things on hidden headbands; you practically forget you are wearing one.
Where do you see your label going in the future? Are you planning to extend the brand into other areas? If so, which ones?
I see my label as always being luxurious and limited in editions. I love dresses that are classic, flattering and functional as well as slim-fitted jackets that accentuate the body, but for now I am focusing on the magic of hats!
Where to buy Satya Twena
1167 Third St. S., Naples.