One of the things I decided I was going to do in Carmel was look for a new hat. I had been wanting a new one for a while, but had not found “the one”. Before my recent trip, I had not been to Carmel in several years, so other than the many art galleries, I did not remember what shops I would find, but I was sure that I would find something special. What I did not count on was finding something quite this special!
The Prestige, located within Comstock’s Tuck Box cottage complex on Dolores Street, is the labor of love of Brian Andrews and his wife, and partner in crime, Amy Felsing. You can see Brian with his seriously adorable daughter Charlotte in the image further down. Brian loves hats, but most of all, he loves vintage hats, which he lovingly and painstakingly cleans up and restores to give them a new life. You can see some of them in the shop window, more inside, and even more in their other store, fittingly called The Hat Shop.
The Hat Shop came first, while The Prestige is a more recent venture, and where Brian likes to keep the top of the line. The way it all started for Brian is through his wife Amy, who was/is the original hat expert. Brian also collects antique and vintage items, and it was while browsing for those that he started buying vintage hats and selling them through the shop. He soon felt that just cleaning them up was not enough, as these were unique pieces made in materials that are no longer available. That is when he taught himself to restore them and make them new again. He said it was a long process, not easy to do, and admits to having ruined several hats along the way, but he is glad he stuck through it. He is now considered an expert in the industry and he is in a place where he can offer something nobody else does. What he and Amy really enjoy is that each hat is one-of-a-kind, that it will go to the one-of-a-kind person and it will fit him/her perfectly.
I first found The Prestige when I found the Tuck Box, and have since stopped by a few more times. Brian is so enthusiastic about his hats, that he will get you trying on some of the quirkiest ones just for fun and the pleasure of talking about them. His enthusiasm is really contagious. I spotted several hats in the Steampunk style and those got us talking about the Dickens Christmas Fair that takes place in San Francisco in the weeks before Christmas. The conversation then turned, inevitably, to Carmel, which Brian truly loves, and to another one of his passions: music. He could have talked hats and music for hours.
The Hat Shop is located on San Carlos between 5th and 6th, so just a couple of blocks up from The Prestige. On the day I stopped by to take a few photos, Katerina, Brian’s step-daughter, was in charge of the store. You can see her wearing one of her favorite hats in the image below. I am sorry I did not get to meet Amy, and will have to make sure I do when I return in the fall, but I am ever so glad to have met the shining Katerina.
Here I need to detour a little from hats because, during our conversation, I discovered that Katarina finished high-school two years early, and after two years at a local college that will be starting soon, she will be headed to another one, probably Berkeley, where she will complete her training to become an opera singer. Her passion for opera was nurtured early on by her father, and what a joyful moment it must have been when she found out she had the voice for it. I felt and feel so thrilled and happy for her, and said as much. Discovering and being able to follow your passion from a young age is not something that happens to everyone, or that is even always possible. And to have the support and encouragement of her family is an incredible blessing. I look forward to hearing her on stage at the San Francisco Opera, or La Scala in Milano, or even at the Arena in Verona.
Back to the hats, I did find my new hat in Carmel. It is not vintage, because the one that caught my eye was the fedora in a luscious shade of blue in the image above. I just love it, and it will be perfect for fall in Carmel, or anywhere, really! I found it at The Prestige, of course!
Do you wear hats? Which are your favorites? Do you like vintage hats? If you do, now you know where you can find some truly special ones!
Dolores Street, btw Ocean and 7th – Carmel-by-the-Sea, California | ph. (831) 574-3242
San Carlos Street, btw. 5th and 6th – Carmel-by-the-Sea, California | ph. (831) 625-4287
Other chapters in The Carmel Journals you might enjoy:
And just beyond Carmel: