The New Havener hat. Slightly wicked but redeemable. Debonair to a point.


The New Havener’s story

From the time I was three, I have traveled the world. Raised in France, Cameroon (Africa), and the New Hebrides Islands (South Pacific). [We lived by Port Sandwich, where I was told, the famed Captain of the same name, invented the sandwich!] Schooled in France and the US., New Haven is where I have decided to settle.

The New Havener is a reflection of the travelling artist I am.


The first hat of this kind made in New Haven. It is hand molded from a XIX century French hat block, using 100% felt wool and entirely hand finished.

Made by Tinaliah Co-op, the first Artisan Cooperative in the region.

The story:

In 2018 Tinaliah Co-op - the for profit counter part of Tinaliah “the One who perseveres” a local 501(c) 3 organization - received the Yale Dwight Hall Innovative Lab Award that includes precious mentor-ship. Brainstorming our priorities, Mentor and Yale Marketing Professor Richard Hunt, suggested to create and start a new website based on one single and stunning hat The New Havener.

Starting with the idea of transforming from a military cap did not do well and was becoming impossible, until while in France cleaning my parent’s house, I decided to call Didier Laforet, one of the last hat block maker in France. I had left with him a block that needed repair 3 years ago, while participating at “The Estivales de Caussade” an international hat show in the nearby town.  The block was given to me by my sister Christine, an Antique Market Dealer, also from the same area. At the time Laforet lived hours away from Caussade, which made the transaction difficult, but as I came back this year, after 3 years of absence, I decided to give him a call. To my surprise, he had moved to the Hat Capital of France/Caussade.

Chris and I decided to visit and to pick up the mold. At the time I was still hopeful in coming to a solution with my deconstructed army head gear.

We enjoyed Didier’s new shop and left with the block in hand.

Why not squeeze it into my suitcase? I thought.

Back in New Haven my dead line was approaching. I had told Professor Hunt mid-July, but I had a severe creative block, so I decided to clear up my head by fasting.  A few days later, I put away the cap, brought the four collected hats - I had purchased while in Arcachon, a vacation destination on the Atlantic Ocean, South of Bordeaux France, and started to remold them on a size 23” dummy. There are very few milliners left, but I am fortunate to have a friend and FIT/NY graduate in Millinery, who loaned me a size 23”. They are hard to come about as our heads have expanded since the hat craze of the 1950th (1*).

NHr Shay Cat at Makehaven cropped.jpg

I rushed the precious hats to the center shop I work from downtown, Makehaven, where #23 was awaiting me and enlarged them all. The next day I was ready to experiment. A few months prior, while earning my Advance Hat Making Certificate from the Australian Hat Academy(2*), I had purchased a few very expensive wood blocks and only one true trim block. This is where things get technical. A block with a brim comes in two sections. My French one only had one, so I had to improvise on the brim and perhaps do without.

I steamed clean all the hats, resized them to #23 and finally sample block two, both unique in themselves.

 My course requires a lots of specific materials, and to enumerate a few that apply to the New Havener:

·         the new born New Havener has a stretched bias ban that is hand sewed

·         an ironed (to straighten each one) feather bouquet is affixed to the ban

·          the New Havener is wired on the inside

·          the wire is covered with petersham cotton or grosgrain (commonly referred as sweat ban) that has to be curved first to fit perfectly.

Petersham ribbon comes from England, however mine come from Australia. The stretching of the wool is quite radical in order to form “the slightly wicked” pointed tip which resembles the famed Broadway play.

Mayor Harp fondly calls me “The Hat Lady” and it is not untrue. My name is Catherine Cazes-Wiley from Tinaliah Co-op and I am really excited to bring you this new hat! 


1* In the 1950th sizes ranged 21” to 221/2”.

2*The Hat Academy is an eglobal network of professional Milliners, students and teachers, some of which have crowned royalty and celebrity heads.

Catherine Cazes-Wiley, W:, E:, C: (203)285-4357