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PROFILE: Q&A With Hat Designer Gladys Tamez

Written by Melissa Troeller

Gladys Tamez hats
Courtesy of Gladys Tamez

Have you seen the gorgeous pink hat that Lady Gaga sports on her “Joanne” album cover? Or the hats that myriad celebrities are photographed wearing? Gladys Tamez is the woman behind the hats and when she isn’t walking her dogs on the beaches of Santa Barbara, she is creating luxurious designs. All hats are handmade with beautiful details and craftsmanship, emphasizing simplicity and quality. Her latest work, the Paramour Collection, is about classic glamour and natural tones. We sat down with the L.A.-based milliner to get the details on her most popular design, the ideal beach town hat, and much more.

How did you discover designing hats?

On a trip to Spain I discovered a multigenerational milliner who made a hat for me. I was enchanted and fascinated by the process. Its sculptural forms, the materials and tools along with the process itself really spoke to me. Soon after I was lucky enough to find a millinery school in LA. I already had a successful clothing company at that time and always included hats in my campaigns. I just knew it was for me.

What inspires you when creating a new design?

When I’m designing something for a client it's their personality and wishes but when doing a collection the theme can come from my many interests and passions. Sometimes it's a photograph, a period in the past or place I love like the Cote D'azur, and at times it can be architecture or sculpture. In an early collection I was inspired by a dream I had of horses galloping in space. I look at a lot of style icons who I admire and through them new ideas flow.

What makes Gladys Tamez different from other designers?

The balance of sculptural detail in form, with simplicity of detail and handmade quality. Also, my determination to create hats that look good on anybody. My hats elevate your look no matter what you are wearing.

What advice would you give to someone looking for the perfect hat?

Everybody looks good in hats. They just need to find the one that fits and complements their lifestyle and personality. The right hat will give you the confidence to excel in everything you do. I offer FaceTime and in-person consultations to help clients find that perfect hat. For me it's about making my clients feel good so they can thrive in life. Hats give confidence like no other accessory; it just needs to be the right hat whether it's for the red carpet, a date or a stroll on the beach.

Countless big names have been seen sporting your hats—Alicia Keys, Kylie Jenner, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and so many more. How has having a large celebrity clientele affected your brand?

It's an honor and privilege to work with such talented icons and I enjoy the collaborative creative process, but I equally enjoy working with everyday clients to design them the perfect hat.

What design from your collection would complement someone in a beach town like Santa Barbara?

Any of my new summer styles, which are inspired by an old Spanish property in LA called the Paramour Estate. The property reminds me of the great Spanish architecture in Santa Barbara. Straw is essential for the climate in SB. There’s a nice variety of wide brim and short brim hats with such details as chin straps for windy days and looks that transition seamlessly from day to night.

Where can your products be found and purchased?

The best place is in my studio or online at my website, I’m always available by appointment to consult with anybody by video, phone or email.

How does your newest collection differ from previous ones?

The Paramour Collection is about classic glamour meets sunkissed surfer with a color palette of natural tones and trims of grosgrain, rope and braiding. My upcoming winter collection is made with cozy felts and super soft faux fur beanies, buckets and berets. In general summer looks are made with Panama straw and winter collections felts.

What is your bestselling hat and why?

The Bianca hat was a hit from the very beginning. It continued to grow in popularity as Lady Gaga wore it extensively for many performances and events. The Bianca has just the right balance of masculinity, femininity, sensuous curves and sculptural detail. It has proved to go with any outfit and complement any wearer. Inspired by Bianca Jagger it has remained an icon of my design.

What’s the most important rule when crafting a hat?

A timeless design is critical but it's my team of artisans that truly make my hats a luxury product that will last a lifetime. They are made by hand with the best materials available by people that know their craft.

What is your favorite thing to do in Santa Barbara?

Santa Barbara is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I like to stay at Rosewood Miramar Beach, go to polo matches and of course the beaches, especially walking the dogs on Arroyo Burro Beach.


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