Accessories, brooklyn, designers, Fashion, food, hats, personal style, restaurants, Style

Closeup: an interview with Florent Biais of Le Grand Hat

I don’t normally do sit-down interviews because I’m too lazy. I hate taping conversations because I’ll have to play them back and later and, heaven forbid, have to write or type everything. I avoid sitdowns like the plague.

But sometimes you have to make an exception.  lgh3

Remember that time we went to the Brooklyn Museum and met the French Guy with the hat? Well, there you go. I had to go over to this place called Bluebird on Flatbush Avenue to talk to Florent Biais who managed to designed the funniest and most stylish hat in New York right now, Le Grand Hat.

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This actually wasn’t the biggest hardship, because I live nearby and was able to get some exercise and enjoy a late summer evening. I’d never been to Bluebird anyway. It turned out to be a cool place that has a back garden where you can actually peek at people waiting for the train at Prospect Park station. It’s nice. The waitress was pretty insistent, and came over a lot but that’s better than when they ignore you and you sit around wondering why you have nothing to eat.

It’s also across the street from the best discount store in Brooklyn (maybe the world?) Phat Albert’s. Turns out Florent and I share an interest in the place. I go trolling for ideas there and so does he. It’s a small worls, and it gets even smaller when you find out French guys are shopping at the discunt store, too.

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So here we go…

SEB: What inspired you to create that hat?

Florent Biais: That’s a good question. Well, I live here (in Flatbush), a Jamaican neighborhood. So I guess I didn’t realize it at first, but I think seeing Rastafarians with their locs wrapped was something for sure. It creates this huge structure. And the top hat was a big influence because of the stupidity of it. The nonsensical attitude of it. You know, fashion is something like that. It’s something just weird.

And I really love the hat culture in the US because we don’t have that anymore in Europe.

SEB: People don’t wear hats in Europe?

FB: No, not any more! We kind of initiated all these crazy hats and stuff back in the day, but not anymore. Except some American influenced sportswear like the baseball hat, but that’s an American thing. So I was fascinated by that when I arrived here, that the US is more inclined to wear hats than we are. And that’s cool. I love hats.

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SEB: Did you study fashion design?

FB: No, I didn’t I studied architecture. I’m an architect, actually.

SEB: Your instagram seems really fashion-y, like you go out a lot…

FB: No. I wish. You have your real life and your instagram life.

sean ross

SEB: But wait, I saw a photo of Shaun Ross wearing your hat! How did that happen?

FB: Ok, I can tell you a story. My soon-to-be wife [FB is getting married this month! Congrats!!] is a pediatrics nurse and she helped deliver a baby to a couple and they were so into her that they invited us to the bris. So there we were, and after that we became friends. I talked about my project to them and the guy, who is in the movie industry, was really into the hat. He has a desk in a co-working space and he talked about it to a photographer who used to work with Shaun Ross a lot and she said he would love it.

She decided to use the hat in a photo shoot with him for NYFW, so I gave her one so she could put it on his head. It didn’t happen, because NYFW is crazy, but she gave my friend his personal address and I sent him a hat. I wasn’t really paying attention, but then two months later a guy tagged me in a picture and it was everywhere. Shaun was wearing it while meeting Winnie Harlow.

I thought he didn’t like it!

Photo by Florent Biais/Le Grand Hat
Photo by Florent Biais/Le Grand Hat

After we finished talking,Florent takes out a hat and gives it to me. I immediately put it on. People start complimenting me. It’s that kind of hat. When I got home I started messing with it right away. All that other stuff I’m supposed to be reviewing? Totally forgotten.

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At first, I kind of thought that I would have to dress up to work the hat, but quickly realized that I could wear pretty much anything and the hat was literally the cherry on top. It did bring out some punk tendencies, because it’s the perfect frame for the face. I wore it to Glossier’s showroom down in Soho and got tons of compliments and lots of likes on instagram. After awhile, I was just throwing it on to go to the store. It’s cool without trying and it kind of fascinates people.

I love it.

Get your own Le Grand Hat for $38 each at sqst.bigcartel.com, $58 for customized pieces. You can also get customized pieces. Keep up with Florent’s instalife at instagram.com/legrandhat .

Next up: We go see Goodfellas at Red Hook Flicks

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