Monday, January 14, 2008


Odile Gilbert

Odile Gilbert (French, 1957) for Gaultier Paris (French, founded 1997). Top Hat, fall/winter 2006–7. Black human hair. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Alfred Z. Solomon-Janet A. Sloane Endowment Fund, 2007 (2007.168).

Odile Gilbert is the creator of the coiffures for many of the most important designers in both ready-to-wear and haute couture. It was Gilbert who designed the swansdown and feather coifs for the mannequins used in The Costume Institute’s 2005 “Chanel” exhibition. Her collaborations with designers are invariably characterized by her deftly elegant treatment of often unconventional materials. In this instance, Gilbert used human hair to form a top hat that matched the hair color of the model who wore it down the runway. The model’s hair appeared to be extended into a surreal topiary placed at a dapper angle over her brow. For the show, Gilbert’s sculptured coiffures reinforced Jean Paul Gaultier’s playful couture transgressions with the dandiacal rakishness that is a signature of the house.

Here, the inspiration comes from morphing but with a Surrealist twist. We can ask ourselves “What is the hair and what is the hat?” It turns out that the hair is the hat and the hat is the hair.

—Jean Paul Gaultier

This top hat was designed for the Gaultier Paris haute-couture show, autumn/winter ’06–’07. One of the collection’s themes was Surrealism, and this hair top hat creates an illusion. From afar, the illusion is of a real black-satin top hat, but with a closer look you can see it is handmade of natural hair. The idea for the couture runway show was to use the brim of the hat to create a sort of bang with the hair of the girl, so the model’s hair becomes part of the hat, which is another layer of Illusion.

The masculine-feminine style is a very strong code in Jean Paul Gaultier’s creative universe. The top hat is originally an elegant masculine accessory and here it is turned here into a chic, sophisticated, and very feminine one.

—Odile Gilbert

Comments (126)

  1. Laurie Aron Says:

    Cut off your own hair and make it into a hat to be surreal, or better yet, a wig. Don’t rely on someone else to supply the hair. That’s all too likely to be oppressive to the supplier.

  2. altamiranyc Says:

    Wow, I’ve seen top hats worn by women on the streets, but not made from human hair, that’s for sure!

  3. marina urbach Says:

    “What is the hair and what is the hat? It turns out that the hair is the hat and the hat is the hair.” The sense of displacement brings to mind Merit Oppenheim’s fur-covered teacup and spoon at the Museum of Modern Art, but the intention is different. Gilbert plays with “layers of iIllusion”, Oppenheim delivers an improbable object.

  4. Lily Monir Matini, Esq. Says:

    love the sleek and streamlined features of a top hat
    with hair, this hat seems somewhat more casual and messy

  5. c willow Says:

    even at age thirteen, this hat disturbs me in the reversal of positions with the hat and hair. But i think that was the aim

  6. Reggi Says:

    i hope the hair model didn’t have lice…

  7. punchline Says:

    This work of art elevates the everyday situation of “HatHair,” a confluence of the sublime and the stable.

  8. one more time Says:

    Definitely a “Do.”

  9. alberto Says:

    nice hat

  10. Wilson Winkler Says:

    Couldn’t she have just donated to Locks of Love?

  11. jess Says:

    i dont think the person should of made a hat out of human is kind of gross, and i wouldnt want to wear it.what if the hat got lice? um eww

  12. tess Says:

    i think when the designer made this she wanted it to look like the person’s hair had been styled into a hat. It’s interesting to see, but I wouldn’t want to wear it!

  13. Sergio Says:

    This hat is gross. I’m speechless.

  14. Wixwanda Says:

    This barbarrella is absolutely adorable! I would buy it at any price!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Grace Says:

    this hat would be really awkward to wear. what if you got lice?!

  16. Ryan, colette, and kim Says:

    Do you have to shampoo and condition it?

  17. BK Says:

    This looks like Slash’s hat Good Times

  18. Parker Says:

    Isabella Blow would love it.
    It totally looks like something she would wear!

  19. ADAM Says:


  20. LANDON J. JONES Says:

    Terrific display! I’m at the museum as I type this today, Martin Luther King Monday, Jan. 21, 2008 @ approx. 11:30AM ET. -
    Team Metropolitan Museum of Art and specifically the “Blog.mode” fashion institute exhibitors, my standing ovation! Bravo! Excellent! Some of my favorites on display are: Geoffery Beene, boots by Maniatis Bottier, Jean Paul Gaultier, Christian Dior Couture, Vivienne Westwood, Karl Lagerfeld, boots by Chanel, Rodarte, Yves Saint Laurent, and the most spectatular and my personal favorite: Coat and waistcoat (ca. 1730) made possible in part by the Isabel Shults Fund!
    Even though the exhibit is predomionately focused on female designs, I have for years adopted varations of these humble and classic artists to fit my personality so I can continue to “suit up and show up”!
    Living and operating in the New York City metropolitan area for over the past 5+ years as a young starving artist at 31 years of age myself, I have a special appreciation for the value associated with my membership access to the MET and the return on the investment - for this I am eternally grateful! Applause!
    P.S. - Great thought, to have computer terminals at the exhibit to gather feedback in a most effective and efficient manor!

  21. N Says:

    “The hat becomes the hair and the hair becomes the hat”

  22. sami Says:

    I would walk right out of here wearing that hat, it’s that fabulous but sadly, I cannot.

  23. Jasmine Garris Says:

    This Top Hat is HOT!!! that fact Gaultier used natural hair…that was very very creative.

  24. T.J. Black Says:

    What a waste of human hair… perhaps it could have been donated to make wigs for cancer patients, rather than wasted on some fashion mistake.

  25. caroline Says:

    I thought this piece was the most creative in the whole show. It is unusual to find a hat made out of hair!

  26. Jenifer Lewis Says:

    Westwood’s pink dress is a materpiece. It shows her ability as a designer and her creative vesatility. What woman wouldn’t want to wear such a fabulous dress?

  27. mac Says:

    it looks itchy.

  28. Ed Rosenfeld Says:

    Jane Fonda?

  29. Diane Snyder Says:

    This is the most disturbing and best piece in the show.

  30. jb and mateo Says:

    this is a nice hat but what knid of name is it

  31. Papi the Fox Says:

    I saw this motif utilized in a modeling show on NYCTV a while back. Though I love the surrealism of the piece and the imaginative nature that produces a hat made out of hair (lol), I wonder what this says about the schism between “high fashion” and actual wearability. Are we really expected to see women walking around 7th Avenue wearing fedoras or bowlers constructed of their own hair (or God forbid, someone else’s)?

    that’s my 2 cents. =^.^=

  32. Mike Says:

    dude this hat rulez lol. bring on the lice!!!1!!

  33. Miley101 Says:

    It is gross that this hat is made out of hair. Who’s hair was it and how was it made? Who would really even wear that? At first I thought the bow was satin but I guess I was wrong!

  34. Adelina Says:

    I love this hat. Hats are my weakness! Human hair? We used to wear wigs when they are fashionable and we took care of them like they were our own hair! No, even better. Just think if you had a “bad” hat you wouldn’t even have to fix your own. Just wash and grab a hat!!!! I designed a hat myself which my family calls the Chechnian hat. I wear it with lots of comments, but lots of joy. Guess if I had this hat, I’d do the same!

  35. nick Says:

    They have very nice dresses and shoes here

  36. dR. fATE Says:

    love it! LOVE IT!! L O V E I T!!!

  37. Regina Says:

    I thought that this hat was very intresting. It looks really cool but I can’t believe that it is actually made of human hair. I don’t know why anyone would want to wear anything made of human hair? However, I really thought that this hat was a piece of art and I enjoyed seeing it in the museum.

  38. Carla Motaccio Says:

    Bella! Bella! i love these they are so magnificent. but how do they stay up?

  39. Samantha Rose Says:

    Why chic?????

  40. ryan eugene kelley Says:

    rumor has it that slash had this piece designed for him shortly after undergoing chemotherapy…

  41. Jasann Says:

    Thats my mom’s hair!!!!!! YECH.

  42. Grace Says:

    How did they make it out of hair? No one really made hats out of hair. It’s interesting to see. I wonder if it’s itchy. Is it itchy to wear? Does it get dandruff? Why did you make it out of hair?

  43. Says:

    My wife and I visit at the Metmuseum in this weekend, Exciting and beautiful place to visit,

    I’m very recommended for each one of you who’s love Art and Fashion.

    Met Museum Big and very impressive Museum to visit in, for each one and one that interesting the Art and the Beautiful History !

    Thank you,

    David G.

  44. Katie Says:

    I love this hat. When I first looked at it I didn’t realize it was really made of hair. Then when I read that it was made of human hair I was even more surprised. It was very nicely designed and it still looked like a regular top hat untill you got up close and saw that it is actually hair. This hat really stood out to me among all the other things at the musuem.

  45. Rachel Says:

    The hat is cool but it is a bit odd that it is made out of human hair. I like the style of it but… yeah the hair part of it is weird.

  46. Margaux Says:

    This is a bit freaky! I like the concept of the top hat flowing with the models hair to make a corky, and interesting feeling, but to use real human hair is out of the question! Can’t you just use fake hair instead? It wouldn’t make a difference. I mean just for a fashion show, it wouldn’t ba worth it. Save the real hair for cancer patients!

  47. Merna Says:

    It looks dirty…i thinkl diddy would wear it…

  48. Jane Says:


  49. Amy M Says:

    I think this hat shows everyone exactually what real creative fashion all about. Even though this is not one of my favorite pieces, i can really respect it and admire it for being so creative, and put together so well. This hat is really creative and has such an illusion to it, being that i imagine when it is worn, upclose you can not tell where the hat starts, and where the wearer’s hair starts. Also from a distance you may not even be able to tell that it is really made from hair, it will look just like a hat made from very elegant hat. This hat is one that is very creative and out of the box, without looking extremely crazy. It is a totally unique piece.

  50. Ashley Says:

    The Barbarella hat was oddly one of my favorite pieces that I saw in the museum. I thought it was so creative and I really liked the comment that someone left above about the hat giving another meaning to “hat hair.” I did not think it was gross, i’m not sure if I would have the courage to wear something that is this different but I thought the look and creativity was amazing. This piece really stuck out to me.

  51. Megan A Says:

    This hat was one of the most creative pieces in the show. Personally, I would never wear it but I think that it was very imaginative and at the time I’m sure many people were amazed by the design. It definitely fits into the theme of Surrealism and I think it would have been interesting to see models walking down the runway in this piece.

  52. Caitlin R Says:

    “What is the hair and what is the hat?” It turns out that the hair is the hat and the hat is the hair.” This quote explains this hat perfectly. I love how the desgin of this hat uses what it is made to cover as the inspiration. It really is a piece of haute couture.

  53. Julie Ellul Says:

    This is one that cannot go unmentioned! The first word that comes to mind is WOW! I would have thought of using human hair as a medium in fashion. What a way to stand out and do something so different, but so ultimately timeless and classic as a top hat. Who better to display it than Gaultier.

    When reflecting on my visit to the MET and this exhibit, this would be by far the most memorable. I had never seen anything like this before and I was really shocked. Once over the shock, I was just in awe. What an interesting and exciting piece!

  54. Boaz Hirschl Says:

    This hat first reminded me the Alice in wonderland mad hatter hat.
    Another hairy ideas can come for the horror movies where THEY use parts of human origion.
    One the more easy side the style of the hat can change like a regulsr hair dressing to meet every day needs and fellings.
    My few cents…

  55. sarah Says:

    I like all the cloths that is on display. I like the gowns and dresses.
    I am 8 years of age.

  56. Dc Says:

    Why anyone would even think of wearing a hat made of hair is disgusting. What would make someone wear that???? I do like the “streaky” look, and if it where made out of something else I would like it.



  58. CC Svaleng Says:

    While I appreciate the effort of the surrealist movement I can’t help but wonder, who’s hair is it? And if you were really going to blend the line between hat and hair, wouldn’t you test the line further by breaking even further from just a top hat? A top hat is nice, but what if it were to blend even further the idea of what the hairstyle is and what the hat is? From far away it just looks like a hat, if you;re going to be surrealist the questioning should start from afar and further perplex the nearer you are to it.

  59. Eilidh cameron Says:

    It is realy weird because you dont need hair because you could fold down the hat for your hair!

  60. sophie and liz Says:

    this hat is really odd….in a good way, of course!!!
    i never would have expected it to be REAL HUMAN HAIR!!!
    the height of creativity!!!!!

  61. Marquin McMath Says:

    I absolutely love this piece for several reasons: First of all, I think that presenting a piece- a top hat- that is historically a mens wear item for women is wonderful and a brilliant stroke of genius on both Gilbert and Gautier’s behalf. Moreover, I don’t think that most people would wear this as a day to day accessory because of the nature of the materials and the craftsmanship involved in the making of the hat. Because of this, the hat is elevated even beyond the realms of couture creation– it takes on a life of its own and is truly a work of art. This hat provokes. The common person would either embrace it as an artful creation, or being appalled by the hair used to create it. I love that one object could receive such varied reactions– but this, after all, is what art aims to do– to challenge our common notions and to question the endless possibilities. Bravo!

  62. Ann Says:


  63. Lori Says:

    I LOVE ODILE!!!!! She said I have nice eyes! TWICE!!!!!

  64. Shana Marie Says:

    This is scary and cool at the same time. Whoever made it was brillant and like it says is the hat the hair or is the hair the hat lol. I would rock this in a fashion show or a photoshoot. I would also had some purple and blue highlighs lol

  65. Christina Says:

    This hat is very innovative! Designers use animal hair and fur for their collections and to see real human hair puts a twist on things. I love how it gives the illusion of satin and how he put a feminine touch on a very masculine accessory. Gaultier pushes the envelope when it comes to design!

  66. Shalane James Says:

    Now this was a clever piece. At first glance i was like “okay…a top hat… not very inventive.” But then i realized it was a top hat made out of hair! It was quite a surprise and although it is very odd I really like it. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was very well done and of course it’s attention grabbing.

  67. Karin Westerlund Says:

    Excellent and fancy for a bad HAIR day!

  68. freddy Says:

    the ultimate piece for people with bad hair days…

  69. Karin Westerlund Says:

    Intrested in hair? Anyone who has seen Sandra Backlunds hair knitwear collection in collaboration with hair-stylist Peter Andersson, check it!!

  70. Malika Brown Says:

    I appreciate the creative outlook but i couldn’t and i believe no one should wear this hat…

  71. Rhett Says:

    This is strange but beautiful.

  72. Kate Says:

    I think that’s really groooooosssssss! I mean, who in their right mind would ever be sick enough to wear a hat made out of someone else’s hair!!!!!! Well, maybe you could’ve used the hair to make a wig for someone without any, idk, just don’t use it to make a hat!

  73. eva Says:

    this is the hat of my dreams

  74. Sarah H. Says:

    i wonder if this top hat would look tacky along with blonde hair…

    no wait, i think it would look tacky with ANYTHING. crazy freaking hat!!!

  75. Mod Says:

    IT SOUNDS LIKE “MADELEINE LOST IN PARIS”. red lace…..from red hair………….

  76. Marcie Says:

    I admit the idea of this hat is somewhat repulsive, but the texture and shine of the hair makes the hat creative and unique.

  77. Shelley Says:

    Although I do see the point that Gilbert was trying to make by having the hat and hair seem to become one, the idea of wearing a hat made out of someone else’s hair is still a bit disturbing to me. Yes it can be compared to a wig both of them being made out of someone else’s hair, I just don’t see the need for this hat.

  78. Daniel Says:

    I’d like to see this hat on a perfectly shiny, bald head. The shoulders need to be bare, too. Very simple dress, sort of Harry Potter London look, an old pair of hightop Keds.

  79. Jessi Erian Says:

    The idea of sculpting someone else’s hair grosses me out, even as a wig. I do, however, think it would be interesting to try to sculpt my own hair into a hat.

  80. jesse Says:

    the hat looks nice tipped to the side.

  81. Slashor Says:

    I suppose you could braid it, give it some curls….

  82. lola Says:

    ugly i dont like the hair on it. they need to put fur on it or something.

  83. Rachael Says:

    hey! ur website and exhibit is phenomenal! Some r ugly and most are gorgeous! Love ya!

  84. Lynnmu Says:

    I really like the hat, as odd a concept as it is. But what next? A hair dress? I couldn’t go there.

  85. Christina Says:

    yo. the hat was awesome. must have been weird fo the model to be wearing a hair hat. must have been sick for her. bleh. : ) the designer is very creative.

  86. Annabel Says:

    This hat is very beautiful and chic.
    if only it wasn’t made of human hair.
    now i am utterly repulsed.
    that is pretty disgusting to imaging having someone else’s hair on your own head.
    and how did they get the hair in the first place.

  87. Dodd Loomis Says:

    The perfect remedy for cold, bald, fashonable people!

  88. Nicole Says:

    They should make one of these with blonde hair!

  89. Julie Says:

    The juxtaposition of female/male and nature/manmade make this hat a compelling piece. The feminity of the hat comes from the hair which is glossy and shiny while the structure of the top hat is decidedly male. Where it does seem almost just a piece to shock and confuse, there is really much more to it.

  90. Gillian Says:

    I was really excited to see this hat after watching last night’s project runway. The designer Chris on the show used human hair in some of his designs. They looked amazing and were really different (if not a little gross)!

  91. Caitlin Allen Says:

    I love this hat! Seeing it present in the museum made me look back at the Gaultier collection and realize how well it worked with his collection, and how creepy it is by itself. Hats off (no pun intended) to Gilbert and Gaultier

  92. Rebecca Choi Says:

    When I first looked at this hat, I didn’t know it was made by human’s hair. It looks like regular black hat that has texture on the fabric. However when i looked at it closely, I was very shocked. It is very inpirational, and I think it is such a wonderful idea. Hat is used for accessorizing hair, and this hat is already made to wear like a wig. It is functioning as real hair, as well as accessories for head. It is constructed really well as ohter hats. It is harmony of fashion, human and nature that gives a new sense of design. I love it! it is sensational!

  93. Lina Says:

    When presented with such a piece, one may only think to onself- how is my pitiful hair so inferior in style?

  94. Lidia Says:

    I absolutley hate it! It disgusts me.

  95. Lisa Says:

    This hat didn’t look like satin from far away…and it kind of grossed me out :)

  96. Victoria Says:

    I guess Chris March wasn’t totally crazy with designing dresses made from human hair…

  97. charlotte Says:

    i love, loved, loved this hair hat. i thought it was so unique. the way it is created and made!!!!!!!

  98. leah Says:

    OMG it is made out of hair!!!! i think that is about the coolest thing that, yes, infact it is made out of human hair. When I first took a look i didn’t se any extravagence, just a normal top hat out of like persan silk or something. But of course again my mind has deceved me and i was looking at a hat made of hair. I love how you have to look to tell it is hair and not silk. It isn’t yelling at you “HAIR”. My favorite kind of art it the art were you have to really look and tell it is what it is and it isn’t to odviouse. I had a great time with this hat and i sugjest to you ti take another look around at the art and to see stuff u wouldn’t se normaly at the 1st look at it.

  99. ian Says:

    Greetings and salutations. After scrolling thru the blogs and reading quite a few, it is painfully obvious that most if not all of the people participating in this have absolutley nothing intelligent to contribute. Please stick to voting for American Idol morons.

  100. Gabriela Says:

    This hat is not only a work of art and poetic mastership, but it represent what fashion is. The ability to shake people, to make them uncomfotable or right at home, in other words, like Wolf said “clothes change our view of the world”

  101. an idiot Says:

    dude, your hat needs a hair cut!

  102. Jorge Says:

    Totally amazing. I love it when art (fashion, in this case) pushes boundaries. I like being surprised by what I see, I like seeing things I would not have imagined possible.

  103. andrew Says:

    i would not want to get lice :(

  104. Snow Says:

    I’m getting that for DR. Phil. He needs to cover up his bold spot.

  105. rachel Says:

    this hat was disturbing at every level, never would a wear this it is gross

  106. jake Says:

    Maybe Amy Winehouse should get one…

  107. meimi1995529 Says:

    ewww thats kinda.. really nasty. a hair hat. i find that pretty disturbing.

  108. creepymirrorpictures Says:

    I’d wear it.

  109. Acacia Says:

    this is an extremely quirky piece, and I totally thought, “oh, it’s a weave hat” when I saw it. When mixed mediums conjoin, it’s always entertaining to see what comes out. Enjoyed this so much.

  110. Denisse Says:

    i thought this was absolutely..DISGUSTING!
    i mean…who would REALLY donate their hair to some guy to make a hat?
    and i agree with a comment previous to mine
    couldnt she just donate to locks of love?!
    i mean…world poverty and cancer is way more meaningful then some fashion statement that doesnt even matter

  111. Jeanette Says:

    This is why I love fashion design.

  112. Kat Says:

    Chris March from
    Project Runway 4
    should hear about this.

  113. roie82495 Says:


  114. Bob Says:


  115. David Says:

    I don’t even know what to say about that hat!

  116. lisa austin Says:

    So very dada!

  117. Devin A Says:

    Love the hat. I think the solution to those concerned about people who need hair is to require the wearer shave their head and donate their hair before being permitted to wear this. Great hat.

  118. michaela Says:

    what if the donator had fleas? ew

  119. Mimi Says:

    In India you go to the temple to donate your hair when good things happen. They must have donated my hair to this hat

  120. God Always Says:

    Cool Hat Youn’uns

  121. Darby Says:

    Tah’s really creepy. Who would bye that?

  122. Liya Says:

    is that hat
    made out of hair?
    or what
    becasue it looks like
    it is, but thats kinda
    gross , i wouldn’t wear a hat
    made out of hair =\ ICCCCKKKY !

    but the style and everything else
    looks really nice, and well
    yeahhhh ( : !!!!!

  123. Flip Says:

    To be honest, I find the use of human hair, not repulsive, but interesting. I mean, people make dresses from condoms, but using human hair, which can always grow back, is not only different but something that can be easily obtatined. People can always donate hair, it grows back. Its a new form of material.
    Its much better than skining an animal after all.

    Mhh dead animal skin, LOVE TO WEAR THAT!!! Not.

    I find this piece to be very interesting. And yeah, I would wear it.

    One last small fact,…way back when, it was a very “in” thing to have lace …made from human hair.

    Enjoy your day!


  124. Steph and Beth Says:

    This is really gross… I do not want any hair on my head except for my own. EEEEWWWWWWWW

  125. VASILIOS Says:

    When Gaultier uses real hair it’s “genius”.
    When young new talent uses real hair (Project Runway),
    it causes “nervousness”…WAKE UP!
    I take my hat off to you Jean Paul and to the Met,

  126. Paul Says:

    i like the human hair hat but really underestimated the creepiness…

Comments are closed.

E-mail It