Gladys Tamez at her L.A. Home
When I first met hat milliner Gladys Tamez, I stepped timidly into her office loft downtown. As I looked around for signs of life, I was overwhelmed by the hundreds of hats that stood on stands, hung from the walls, and sat on counter tops. “Gabriella?!” A voice called out. “Gabriella is that you!?” Though we had never met before, Gladys turned the corner with a beaming smile, as if she was laying eyes on an old friend. “Ohh, look at-‘chu guapa! I love what you are wearing! Where is this from!?” She exclaimed while taking my hand and leading me towards the office’s “heart,” the creation nucleus, where all of her hats are sketched, designed, and constructed.
At the studio’s center was a giant inspiration board of vintage photographs; “muses” Gladys calls them, wearing exceptionally badass hats. One of the pictures is of Cher wearing an all-white suit and a white fedora with an oversized brim. “We made a similar hat that was inspired by this picture and called it ‘The Cher’” says Gladys. “ One day, Cher called me herself and ordered one! Now Cher owns ‘The Cher’!” she laughed. A few days later Gladys invited me to her home, a tastefully eclectic craftsman property filled with art, books, and classic rock records. After we snapped pictures of the milliner in her element, we talked inspiration, style, and superstitions, getting a glimpse inside the brilliant brain beneath the brim and even learning a few life lessons in the process.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Reynosa, Tamaulipas in Mexico. It was so much fun, I truly miss the city and my family. Oh, and the mole!
What is your favorite childhood memory in Reynosa?
¡Dios mío! I remember when my mom and my aunt would drive us kids to school. There is this visual I have of their great big hats taking up all of the space in the car. We had to keep all of the windows down, so that the air could circulate (laughs).
There is an old western wives tale that says you should never put a hat on the bed or else you will be killed. I take this very seriously— never, ever put a hat on your bed.
What is your typical day at Gladys Tamez Millinery?
Well, first I have breakfast with my husband and we walk our dogs. Then I go to my studio downtown and work and create until about five. Then I come home and either go out to dinner or have a nice dinner at home— my husband cooks for me, he’s a wonderful cook!
Who are your fashion icons?
Oh, where do I start? Blondie, definitely. Jacqueline Kennedy, always. Also Isabella Blow, I take her photos to work as inspiration. She was Philip Treacy’s muse and is credited for discovering Alexander McQueen. I also love her biography.
Where did you learn how to make hats?
I learned here in Los Angeles with Louise Green. She was my mentor and always a source of motivation and inspiration for me.
Glady’s wears “The Bianca” hat, a design she created after being inspired by vintage photographs of ’70s fashion icon, Bianca Jagger.
Do you own a hat that always reminds you of a great memory?
Yes— the first hat I ever made. It was a beret. When learning how to make hats, you always start with a beret. I always laugh when I see that hat.
What can a person’s hat say about them?
A hat can say everything. A hat can say if you’re fun, if you’re risky, if you are mysterious. If you have questions about someone, their hat will tell you [the answers]. I also love to see how people transform and represent a hat. Sometimes, when I create a hat I have a vision of how it should look on a person, but then someone will wear it and transform the hat so beautifully, in ways I wouldn’t have thought of.
What are your favorite places to shops to shop in LA?
I love Roseark, Maxfield, and Fred Segal.
Describe your style.
I am a rock and roll girl! Music inspires me every second and I love classic rock. I am a Gemini and I truly like all music, but I love classic rock. I think that’s really reflected in my style.
What inspires you?
Life! It really amuses me everyday. Everything can also change in seconds; you never know what’s going to happen.