A few weeks ago, we sat down with Chicago native Angela Morano, couture headwear designer and the girl behind HATS by Angela Morano. One of acityinthemidwest’s goals for 2012 is to introduce a style section to the blog, and Angela’s interview is the perfect way to kick it off. Talented and ambitious, Angela Morano is a name to remember within the Chicago style scene. Check out the interview below where Angela discusses her hats, her favorite Chicago spots and the fashion trends she wishes would finally die.
- Why hats?
I started making garments as a student in high school, so when I went to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago [for college], I thought that was my plan- to be a garment fashion designer. I stumbled upon making hats, because I really enjoy working three-dimensionally, and I love fashion obviously, so it’s a combination of both.
- What is the theme of your collection?
I focus a lot on shape and color and that’s the thread that runs through all of my collections.
- Where do you look for inspiration for your designs?
I don’t necessarily look at fashion to make fashion, but that’s not to say that I ignore fashion. I have endless amounts of magazines and blogs that I follow and things I check up on on the Internet. I also look at a lot of modern art and architecture. Recently, my friend and I went to The Rookery. It’s sort of a hidden gem, and if you’re in Chicago you should definitely check it out. It’s amazing. It was built in the mid 1800s and renovated by Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s just beautiful inside. Seeing things like that inspires me. When I’m in a rut, I step away from everything, grab a tea and people watch.
- What’s most important to you when designing something with your name behind it?
Quality. I cannot stress that enough. I think it’s just really important that when buying something like a hat or a well made accessory or jacket that it’s really important to invest in it, because you can wear it for years. I’ll wear a hat that I wore a year or two ago with a new dress and it completely changes the look. If it’s something well made, it’s gonna last.
- What is your favorite hat from your collection?
I would say this is my favorite, because most of my wardrobe is black and white and neutral, so I use my hats as an accessory to make my outfit. I used to take horseback riding lessons when I was younger, so [this hat has] sort of an equestrian helmet inspiration. When it sits on your head, it adds a little bit of height. These fur pom poms have become my signature thing. I add them to almost anything I can if it’s season appropriate.
- What current fashion trend do you wish would pass?
There’s still so many that I wish would just die. [laughs] I really can’t stand when people don’t make an effort. Just put on some jeans. Leggings are ok sometimes, but put on a little bit of a longer shirt. Make some effort because Chicago gets smaller and smaller. I feel like I can never leave my house without running into someone I’ve met or worked with, and you never know what can become an opportunity for you.
- How do you define success? Have you “made it”?
[laughs] This is what I lie in bed and think about. I think you measure success on your own scale and so far I think I’ve been pretty successful. I’ve become fully invested in hats. It’s great being able to work and getting paid for what I love to do. If I could do that for the rest of my life, who wouldnt be happier? I also work at “After School Matters” teaching high school kids how to make hats. I never thought I’d be teaching, and it sounds cliche, but it’s really rewarding. You can’t reach everyone, but the ones that you do reach, they come back and are like “ooh i did this.” They are so excited about the work that they made, and it’s really heartwarming, I know it sounds cheesy [laughs].
- Since we’re acityinthemidwest and all, what’s your favorite spot in the city?
Hmmm… there are a couple of spots that I like to go that have really good beer. It depends on where I want to go in the city too. This place has gotten a bit of a buzz recently- Maria’s on 31st and Morgan. It’s a bar that was recently renovated and now it caters to a younger crowd which is fun. They have a nice selection of beer, and you can sit down and chat with friends. My other longtime favorite is Rodan in Wicker Park. I like places that are more loungy, where you can relax and have a drink.