In college, I had a vintage Schiaparelli hatbox. Hot "Schiaparelli" pink trimmed in black, it seemed the height of retro sophistication. It was a gift from my thesis advisor who, after seeing my obvious enchantment when it came in with a load of donation clothes for the costume department, kindly said "Hatbox? I don't see any hatbox listed on this inventory. Just clothes. Yes, definitely just clothes."
That hatbox stayed with me through three dorm rooms and several apartments, post college. But it was, alas, just cardboard, and vintage cardboard at that. Being a thoughtless 20something, I wasn't especially careful with it and it finally gave up the ghost and had to be tossed.
As I get back into costuming and repeatedly realize just how amazing Elsa Schiaparelli is as a designer, I think about that hatbox when I pin something to my Schiaparelli board on Pintrest and miss it a little.
This being the weekend before AnachroCon, there were a bunch of little costuming related errands to be done, one of which was taking my shoes for the 1940s dance over to a shoemaker across town to be stretched. It was lunch time, we were hungry and there was no parking to be found near the store (what is it about cute little historic neighborhoods that they never have good parking?) So we had to park in the lot of an antique/home decor store that we'd been in before and found unimpressive. We dropped off the shoes, but felt a little guilty about parking in the antique store lot, so in we went to look.
Out next errand was going to be the Container Store for hatboxes to pack for the con.. which was pretty much the other side of town, so Jay, in a desperate attempt to avoid the extra time, suggested we see if the antique store had any hatboxes. We found a surprisingly nice wooden one for his top hat and I was very hungry at this point, so I was ready to buy it and go to lunch. But Jay asked the clerk: "Do you have any other hat boxes?"
"Well, we have one, but it's not functional for actually holding a hat. It's pretty beaten up. It is vintage though." the clerk says.
Something made me say: "I'd be interested in seeing it, at least" so the clerk lead us to the back corner of the shop, moved a fake potted tree and went rummaging under a counter filled with retro Christmas decorations. She pulled out a hot pink hatbox trimmed with black and I swear my heart skipped a beat. Still, it was probably a local hat shop box, nothing to get excited about.
But against the odds, it was, in fact, a tattered Schiaparelli hat box. Without even asking what she wanted for it, I said I'd take it and (thankfully) it was only $13.00. She had no idea who Elsa Schiaparelli was, and was interested in hearing about her, but I think she clearly thought I was a little bit crazy to be buying a worn out piece of cardboard.
Me, I was just ecstatic to be getting back what felt like a little piece of my college years. And this time, I will take better care of it.