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Fashion Maniac: A RAPA TAP HAT

This is the tenth Fashion Maniac piece in the series. Check out the
other shoots to see the national trends and where to find them in
locally: United We Stand @ Tifft Nature Preserve, bathing suits on the Spirit of Buffalo, James Scissorhands, kicks and handbags at Niagara Square, rocking scarves, the workplace can be sexy, raingear and the twins, night moves in Allentown and the sultry bridesmaid.

 Features Editor:  Claire Geist
 All Photography & Managing Editor:  Cheryl Gorski
 Stylist: Jess Wegrzyn
 Casting Director:  Christopher Connolly 
 Makeup: Dani Weiser
 Marketing Director: Marisa DiSarno

A Rapa Tap Hat by Claire Geist

As August settles in, the summer heat is still rolling along and fall is creeping closer. The most perfect staple in your closet right now, or any time for that matter, is quality headwear- hats to be exact. And who knew that one of the most accomplished and quality custom hatters in the country resides and operates right here in Buffalo! Gary “The Custom Hatter” White has made hats for countless movies from Dick Tracy, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, to both Batman & Batman Returns and Blues Brothers.

^Hats are hot on the NY runway

He also has earned a number of credited awards for crafting the hats for multiple Broadway productions from Guys & Dolls to Thoroughly Modern Millie. A shining star in the crown of Buffalo’s talented craftsmen, Mr.White is indeed the man to turn to when you are looking for a hat that will not only be custom made for you, but made with the highest quality at the hands of a true artist.


Buffalo Rising: So, how did you get your start as a Custom hatter?

Gary White: at 17, I started working for the hat department of a high-end men’s department store called Peller and Mure, Inc. From there, I worked my way up to hat sales and on to becoming the buyer for the store. After gaining so much knowledge on the different makes of hats, I then decided to start an apprenticeship in Massachusetts for 11 years, learning how to craft hats as they were made in the 1920’s.

^Click to enlarge all photos

BR: Alright, now tell us, what’s the difference between a Milliner and a Custom Hatter?

GW: Basically, men’s and women’s hats. A Milliner makes ladies’ hats, using different materials and blocking forms (head shapes) while also concentrating on flourishes and decorations, sometimes getting hats pre-blocked hats and then separately decorating the pieces. A Custom Hatter, like me, makes mainly hats for men.


BR: What sets your hats apart from the rest?

GW: All of the hats are completely made by hand, the only machinery we use is one manual sewing machine. We only use 100% pure beaver felt, all of our leathers are dyed by hand and we even have copyrights on our bow design! When a customer comes in, I take their head measurements and create their piece perfectly to match. A hat can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to make depending on the darkness of the dye and the blocking process. My hats are personal.


BR: And what of these Panama Straw hats that are so well known in the summer?

GW: You can compare these hats to wine, they are of extremely high quality. Hand woven in Ecuador, these are hats made from reeds and straws that are then woven to a perfect hat for hot weather. These hats can cost as high as $20,000!


BR: Any tips on choosing the right hat?

GW: Well, I’m here to help my customer every step of the way. From choosing the right brim to the perfect complimentary color, a perfect hat is like a picture frame, framing the face while accenting features and acting as a protective barrier from the elements.


Models are Cassie, Jess, Patrick, R.J. and Claire
All wearing clothes by:  Feathers &
Hats made by The Custom Hatter, Gary White of Buffalo NY

Special thanks to Laughlins & Tudor Lounge 



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Writer (fashion enthusiast)
Prop stylist



-Aug 27th @ Big Orbit Gallery from 6-10pm
       30 Essex St Rear D, Buffalo, NY 1421
-MULTI MEDIA FASHION PRESENTATION $15.00 @ the door Proceeds help the Children of Gateway Longview
-Please bring school supplies to donate for the Children of Gateway Longview
-Photography by Cheryl Gorski
-Paintings by: James Hickey & Dani Weiser
-Designers: Morgen Love, Lyu Kennedy, Holly Hue, Steven Bales Clothing, Sai One Elmwood, Atelier by Sebastiana.


-Makeup by: Dani Weiser &  Andrew Brown of Salon Rouge
-Hair by: James Hickey of Chez Ann Salon & Andrew Brown of Salon Rouge
Design & Furniture by: John Pusateri of Advanced Furniture, Michael
Merisola of CooCoo U, Lucy Perrone-Mancuso of Moda
-Catered by Obviously Avi
-Gourmet Sorbet by: Euriah Nunn
-Graphic Design: Jim Breidenstein from Webart Designs
-ABCDJ music
-Live Music: Abafana, Leah Russo, The Heritage, Dan Harper
-After Party at Prime 490
Pepsi Cola, Seneca Blue Print, Vinyl Graphics, Nova Photo, Buffalo
Rising, Urban Threads & Sleds, Certo Brothers, OPICI , Mike

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Cheryl Gorski | Photographer & Creative Director | 716-895-1689 | 716-903-0600 |
| Also on Facebook specializing in: Fashion, Headshots/modeling/acting,
Editorial, Portraits, Bands/ CD/ Press Kits, Corporate events, Web
photography, Run-way
Claire Geist | Features Editor | 716-390-9192 | | Blog address | Specializing in: Modeling, Photography, Styling | Writing for Seventeen Magazine
Molly Hoeltke | Fashion Stylist | | 716-348-2362 | | Specializing in: Photography and Film, Commercial and Editorial Spreads, Stylist | 716-348-2362 
Christopher Connolly | Casting Director | 716-445-1142 | | Specializing in: Fashion Merchandising, Men’s Fashion, Promotions, Networking, Linguistics
Dani Weiser | Makeup Artist | | 716-348-1239 | Make-up teacher, weddings, T.V., Film, Print and SFX | Please call for any questions.
James Hickey | Hair Stylist & Painter |  &
| 716-901- 4499 | Specializing in: Cut/Color, fashion photo shoots,
run-way, weddings & social events, oil paintings/ custom interior
design paintings
Jess Wegrzyn | Stylist for photography/Films | Vintage buyer | Model for fashion/runway | Owner of vintage store | 716-860-4313

Marisa DiSarno | Marketing Director Fashion Maniac | 716-713-5582

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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