Brenda Lynn’s love affair with hats—and knowing exactly which ones will flatter her discerning customers—began at a Boston costume shop, when the young, aspiring fashion designer was charged with rehabilitating a dusty box of vintage chapeaus. “There was something so tactile, satisfying and immediate about working with the material,” the couture milliner recalls. “And there’s nothing that can transform your look quite like a hat.” Hats are still tops for Brenda. The Massachusetts native studied the millinery craft after moving to New York City to chase her fashion dreams. Barneys New York was the first of many luxury-minded retailers, who helped launch her eponymous line in 1993. Ten years later, Brenda and her business partner husband, Vincent Giandurco, moved to Fairfield to start a family (they have two daughters) and set up shop here.
With prices starting at $175, Brenda’s impeccably constructed, American-made hats are popular with an upscale customer who values their feminine qualities and often bespoke materials for everything from sun and fun to weddings to Kentucky Derbies. Her fashion lines, which range from wide-brimmed sun bonnets to fit-for-a-duchess fascinators, can be found at upscale retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue and ever-loyal Barney’s. Soleil Toile in Westport and New Canaan carries her alluring and sensible sun-protective line. Instinctively pairing face shapes with toppers is just, well, old hat for Brenda. “I’m fascinated by faces and just kind of know what will look good on people.”
Speaking of fit, the milliner shared a few tips for women who profess they love hats, but find them intimidating to wear: “It’s not that they don’t look good in hats, they just haven’t found the right one. You really, really have to try a lot on to find your perfect look,” she says. And if you’re planning on sporting a hat on a boat, house or garden tour or the polo field this summer, make sure it’s a lightweight, perfect fit. “Otherwise,” she says, “it will end up on the ground or in the Sound.” Interested? brendalynninc.com
Where to wear your statement-making chapeau…
Near and Far Aid House Tour: May 4
Hole in the Wall Gang Polo for Children: June 3
Rose of Hope Luncheon: June 14
Fairfield County Hunt Club Horse Show: June 19-23