Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Friday, 16 October 2009


Mimi Weddel and I shared a birthday. I'm always fascinated by the lives of those born on February 15. She was a New York model who breezed into Manhattan from North Dakota in 1941. According to her obituary, (she just died at the age of 94,) 'What she had wanted since the age of 16 was to put her foot on the bar of the Hotel Astor, to drink Brandy Alexanders on the St Regis hotel roof garden, to admire hats in Peacock Alley in the Waldorf Astoria.'

She was still going our on calls for modelling and acting jobs at the time of her death. She had a small part in an episode of Sex and the City. She went to the gym to stay fit, despite curvature of the spine but decreed that hats maketh the woman:

She shared an Upper East Side apartment, which she had bought cheaply in 1970, with her daughter Sarah, son-in-law, grandson and 150 or so hats, boxed and not, from the 1930s to the couture present. The film director Jyll Johnstone decided to follow Mimi around with a camera intermittently over 12 years, and called the resulting documentary, released in 2008, Hats Off. Hats On would have been more accurate. "Rise above it" was Mimi's motto, and she could rise to any headgear, however unlikely. There's a sequence in the film, in between Mimi's punishing gymnastics, tapdancing, singing and casting calls, when she takes a ride on the back of a motorbike, cool in jodhpurs, huntsman's jacket and boots. She's as elegant as Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, and almost as youthful, and she wears her visored helmet with elan. "Hats give you a frame," she said. "However dreary you feel, if you put on a hat, by golly, you've changed everything. I keep telling my daughter, my granddaughter, everybody, if you don't wear a hat, you're missing it. "


The full obituary is here