Hat Lady Archie Burkel welcomes other hat lovers to join
Hat Ladies of Charleston. Hat
Ladies Brunch: The Hat Ladies of Charleston
will hold their first brunch Saturday at High Cotton, 199 East Bay St. Call
724-3815 to make your reservation for the 10a.m. Brunch, and indicate that you
are a Hat Lady. The group's founder,
Archie Burkel, says newcomers are welcome. 'Our love of hats bonds us together.
It's our intention to expand our friendships."
The theme for the day: Ways to hang your hats.
I had the opportunity
this week to attend a unique event at Alhambra Hall - the Big Band Brunch. Archie
Burkel, "The Hat Lady," added to the festivities with her ascot style hat and
encouraged seniors to attend "The Hat Ladies' Social," a group of women who
meet and wear hats.
Race for the Cure Benefits Breast Cancer Center
Mixing a bit
of levity in the seriousness of the event were groups who called themselves
Ladies of Charleston"
PMS Group from Atlanta."
Ladies, according to Archie 'Barbara' Burkel, is for 'ladies who love to
wear hats around Charleston - a city with elegance, grace, and tradition.
The group participates in artwalks, races, and events of all types.
'We just give of ourselves,' she added.
Hat Ladies of Charleston for their fall luncheon at noon at Alhambra
Hall in Mt. Pleasant on September 10th.
July 20, 2001
They gathered under the Hat Man mural at Church and broad streets wearing their favorite hats and waving fluorescent pink fans in the shape of hats as they conversed with passing motorists. " Mama always said, "Hats are like anchovies," said Barbara "Archie" Burkel, founder of The Hat Ladies of Charleston. "Women either have a taste for them or they don't."
During the Historic Charleston Foundation's 2000 Spring Tour of Homes and Gardens, women approached Mt. Pleasant resident Burkel with comments about her hat. "I love your hat! I wish I had the courage to wear mine,' Burkel recalled them saying. From there, an idea was born. Burkel began asking those who approached her if they would be interested in being part of a group for women who love to wear hats. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and she began collecting names and phone numbers.
Sherry Remillard of Atlanta remembered her first meeting
with Burkel at a Church Street Art Walk in February. Both women were thrilled when they set eyes on one another's
hats. "When I told Archie I loved hats also, she said she was forming a club
called the "Hat Ladies of Charleston," and that's how I joined the group," Remillard
said. The fairly new and rapidly growing organization held its first meeting
May 5. The club currently embraces
50 members (most women 30-something and older) from several different states.
An excerpt from their mission statement affirms the purpose of their organization: "Hat Lady: a woman who loves to wear hats, but doesn't always have the occasion or confidence to do so on her own. Charleston: a city of beauty, grace, and elegance. Thus, The Hat Ladies of Charleston are a perfect match."
The Hat Ladies are interested not just in their hats. They have taken part in at walks and Carolina Day and plan to participate in the upcoming funeral for the recently recovered Civil War submarine Hunley. They also plan to attend the local International Rose Festival. Burkel also expressed the hat Ladies' interest in volunteering with churches, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Charleston Visitors' Bureau. Barbatsis said that everyone can wear hats. "I am an artist, and hats are the completion of a look and just "being" in the world." Remillard said she wars hats just to get away from her everyday shorts and jeans. "I feel more confident. Also, when you're wearing a hat, men don't whistle and catcall. Instead, they may tip their hats. People treat you differently, with more respect," she added.
Jewell Mikell, owner and operator of Jewell's Millinery on Spring Street, said, "Hats are definitely coming back in style, but not as much as I would like. I wish people would wear them more!" Mikell has been making and selling hats since 1964 and plans to attend a hat exhibit in August at the S.C. State Museum, where she will conduct a hat-making demonstration. "Hats are back in style big-time," Remillard said. "You can accessorize neutral straw an brim hats with your outfit and be creative by adding flowers." "This year," Mikell said, "the most popular hats with my customers have been dress hats and brim hats in colors like lavender, purple, and pink."
Not only do The Hat Ladies possess an appreciation and love for their hats, the people of Charleston seem to freely express their admiration. Recently the ladies were asked by a group of artists for their pictures, according to Remillard. But for Burkel, a defining moment came when they were having high tea at Charleston Place this spring. "Someone walking by broke into poetic verse, saying we (The Hat Ladies) were the most 'splendiferous' ladies he had ever seen!"
"On a personal level, I feel like Maria in 'West Side Story' when she sings, 'I Feel Pretty,'" Burkel said, "wearing a hat gives me a chance to say, 'This is me.'" Burkel can be contacted at email@example.com
The Hat Ladies of Charleston is a newly forming group whose "mission" is to bring together women who love to wear hats but might lack the confidence or occasion to do so. Tea at Charleston Place in the Lobby Lounge on May 5 at 2pm is the first of four meetings per year that will give members a chance to wear their hats for all seasons. The cost depends on the menu you select and ranges from $18.50 for the Charleston Tea to $22.50 for the South of Broad selection. For more information on joining the Hat Ladies and reserving space, call 722-4900.
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