La Bella Donna
Our stunning collection of Italian hats for ladies are crafted in Montappone in the Fermana hills of Le Marche region of Italy. Montappone is the hub of hat production in Europe and is renowned for the quality of hats and the companies based in the area produce hats in a wide variety of materials from traditional straw to leather, felt and fabric. We adored the Italian craftsmanship and style so much that we had to bring a selection of these fine hats back to the UK to stock in our shop in Stockbridge – La Bella Donna.
Montappone has been a making hats since the 17th century where the people specialising in working the straw for use as the material for Italian hat making. Traditional straw hats were made by the locals and who selected the best straw after harvest, then plaited or braided it ready to be then woven and sewn into the straw hats.
The industry developed into 19th century to become the first place in Italy to industrialise the hat production process. Since the 1980’s the local industry migrated away from the mass production of lower priced standardised hats to focus on the high end quality hat production.
Nowadays, Montappone has a population of around 1800 with most of its workforce being employed in the Italian hat industry in one form or another, from producing hat moulds to hat box makers, printers and dyers. Over 60 million hats in various materials and styles are produced annually in the area which is around 70% of Italian hat production and 50% of European hat production.
Mad Hatter Festival
Every year, in July, the town of Montappone hosts a festival celebrating hats and hat making called ‘Il Cappellaio Pazzo’ which means ‘The Mad Hatter’. Thousands of people from all over the world visit the town at this time and enjoy the traditions of hat making in the region as well as music, stories, games and food. This international festival also has an exhibition of the most elaborate or extraordinary head pieces and all over town there is a vibrant enthusiasm for hats.
Montappone also has a Hat Museum that houses a collection of historic hats and quirky hats, as well as the hat worn by Italian film director Federico Fellini. The museum walks you through the hat making process step-by-step with photographs and traditional machinery. See more on the hat museum in Montappone here
There are many companies in the Montappone area that produce hats and we source ours mainly from a wonderful company called Complit. They employ 25 people and hold the record for the share of products that are destined for exported which is around 90%. Complit create gorgeous ladies Italian hats of the utmost quality and are finished exclusively for the market of boutiques. The guiding principles for Complit are fashion considerations and constant improvements to the finishing of the hats. We re very proud to feature them in our hat shop collection.
Our Hat Selection
Here at La Bella Donna we have a range of winter and summer hats for ladies to enjoy. We have recently extended our collection to include UK designer Jane Anne Designs who supply fabulous hats and fascinators – big and small. So whether you are looking for a stylish felt cloche hat to keep your head warm or a statement occasional hat for a wedding or the races then we have the choice for you. Shop for your ladies hats here. We also supply hat boxes so you can keep your gorgeous hats safe and sound and use them again for next season. Feel free to contact us with any questions you might have and we would be glad to help or visit us in our Stockbridge store.