I guess it was only a matter of time before the story of the hats came up. I wish I had a "White Rabbit Alice in Wonderland" story that was worthy of the blue velvet hat. The "Red Violin" of Andy's hats has had a life of its own, that much is for sure.
And then there was this red, black and white shirt that was literally an old ladies blouse that he loved. I wish I'd thrown that thing away! Then that pink cowboy hat! Geeze, what were we thinking? I wish I still had this astrology book, it has this hilarious description of Capricorns that said something like "The men have taste in clothing that can be tacky at best and sometimes even clownish." Then it said "Female Capricorns always look like hookers no matter how conservative they dress." Pretty funny when you think about it since we are both Capricorns (I'm assuming he's still a Capricorn).
I think the best compliment I have ever gotten about the clothing that I designed and made for Andy was that the clothes and his whole look is what you imagine when you hear his music, kind of like when you listen to Jimi Hendrix and you immediately see the "purple haze," no matter what song it is. I love that compliment because it's not really a compliment to me just a true statement. Anyone who works in music and cinema knows this all has much more to do with some fabric and sequins, it's everyone and everything all put together that makes it all come to life, I'm a glamour puss, of course I love clothes! He was so beautiful, it was easy and fun to dress him up, so to me I only did what any other girl would have done.
After Andy died, I was approached by someone who wanted to open up a hat shop. I couldn't think of a worse waste of my time and energy. To be a ball and chain to not only re-creating what I created for him but to a store? No way. Besides, the look of the velvet hat had gone trendy and was now being worn all over L.A., thus ending the making of the hats.
I earlier referred to the blue velvet hat as the "Red Violin" of his hats. Let me elaborate in case you have not seen the movie. In The Red Violin, a violin maker makes his most perfect instrument. At the moment he finishes his best work, his young wife goes into labor and the child lives but she does not survive the birth.
Devastated, he takes her blood and paints the violin with it, applying it like a varnish, giving it a life of its own with the alchemy he has just performed. The life of the violin is seen by a tarot card reader as the woman's life, who at the time did not predict her death -- she only saw the long life of the violin as the life force stayed with the instrument. It went through many hands and was almost lost and destroyed and in the end, finally preserved for all to see in a museum. What a wonderful story and today it is quite clear that the velvet hat has survived and made its home at Seattle's EMP with more than just a little luck. For starters, I must give credit to my most loyal and longest friend, Anne Harrington, who kept the hat in the same box I gave it to her in for many, many years. And I'm sure she has her own stories, and knowing its importance had to make it somewhat of a hardship to protect and preserve it all those years, while meanwhile, anyone else who got their hands on any of Andy's stuff sold it. So I am forever grateful for my good friends who have too much class to ever sell anything so precious.
Will I be making any more hats? Well, I did promise Shawn Smith a Leon Russell hat, so who knows?! Now just imagine the life force that hat will have!
You can see "The Hat With The Purple Aura" at the EMP where I donated it on the day of Mike Starr's memorial. I would like to think it has a good home, but hats apparently have feelings too, so let's not let it get too lonely. Visit the EMP, there's always great stuff to see there including a Hendrix show that's still running and a Grunge show coming up in spring.
Love Rock and the Hat with The Purple Aura awaits you!