Hats off to The Hat Book

As we celebrate 70 years of Superfine, we’re taking a look back at some of our favorite projects printed on this iconic grade. Published in 1993, The Hat Book is a visual essay on the experience, the whimsy and the sense of style that hats bestow.

[Photo: Greenwich, Conn., 1991]

Photographer Rodney Smith, featured here, doesn’t always do big books. The Hat Book, on which Smith collaborated with author/designer Leslie Smolan, is smallish by contrast, about 7 inches high and just a bit wider. Like a great hat, the book is wonderfully mysterious — even romantic.

[Photo: Snedens Landing, N,Y., 1989]

From the introduction: “A hat is the difference between wearing clothes and wearing a costume; it’s the difference between being dressed and being dressed up; it’s the difference between looking adequate and looking your best….”

[Photo: Piermont, N.Y., 1992]

There are short hat-related quotes throughout — from Dr. Seuss, Oscar Wilde, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others. Every image captures the magical experience of wearing a hat, and each reproduction is a skillful balance of creativity and technical expertise — printed drytrap via 300 linescreen separations by Heritage Press.

[Photo: Castlemartin, Ireland, 1988]

From the red ribbon “hatband” wrapping the cover (see top photo), to the Mokuba flyleafs, the designerly eye of Leslie Smolan, Carbone Smolan Agency, is evident throughout. Her touch, if we dare say, is as smooth as the Mohawk Superfine Smooth, 100 lb. text, on which the book’s pages were printed.

Like a great hat, this book is magical and endearing. It is no wonder The Hat Book (Nan Talese/Doubleday, 1993) won major design awards including the 50 Books/50 Covers competition (now in the AIGA Design Archives) and the Leipzig Book show.

This project was literally a labor of love. In 1988, Leslie Smolan met a man who owned a hat company. Shortly after that, she met photographer Rodney Smith. When Smolan suggested they collaborate on a book about hats, two things happened: Smolan and Smith were married, and they both became obsessed with hats. Six pages are devoted to hat-related resources. [PW]

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Comments (4)

  1. Posted by Meg on 10.6.10 at 9:14 pm

    wow, a blast from the past. I still have my copy.

  2. Posted by Mare Stanton on 05.29.12 at 10:14 pm

    I am looking for another copy of The Hat Book. It is out of print. Help!

  3. Posted by Felt & Wire on 05.31.12 at 11:21 am

    Copies of The Hat Book are for sale on Rodney Smith’s website: http://www.rodneysmith.com/publications

    Publications purchased through this link (directly from the studio) are each signed by Rodney Smith.

    Each of the publications has the price and a description of the item. Click on the price to place an order through paypal.

  4. Posted by Bob Faulkner on 03.16.16 at 1:19 pm


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