I am obsessed with Belbeina Lee. Everything she makes is stunning, whether it’s an original design or a piece inspired by a true vintage item; they both generate the same effect, which is me falling in love and adding yet another fabulous hat to my wishlist. Since it’s been a crappy year I recently decided to treat myself to two brand spanking new Belbeina Lee pieces, and my goodness, they more than live up to my expectations, just as they always do.
I’ve reviewed a few of Katie’s hats in the past, so I’m thrilled to once again be able to spotlight her business. Everything Katie makes is, indeed, handmade, from quality materials and enriched by the love and care she puts into her meticulous handiwork. I genuinely wish I could afford to buy each of her pieces in every colour, but, alas, since they are a special treat for me I decided back in the spring lockdown while everyone else was baking bread that I, instead, would try my hand at making an infinity hat.
It’s a fairly simple design, I thought, and even though I am not even an amateur sewer and certainly far from being a perfectionist in any crafts I attempt, I still felt there was a decent chance I could create something wearable. And in a way, I was right. I made a black infinity hat out of velvet ribbon and it is, indeed, wearable…buuut it’s also unimaginably messy on the underside, and the opposite halves of the infinity symbol are ever so slightly different sizes. It took ages, involved several false starts, and was certainly not easy. The whole experience confirmed exactly what I expected; Katie’s perfectly executed craftswomanship, the beauty of her pieces and their unfailing reliability of function are results that are difficult to achieve and well worth their price.
This first piece is the Rachel hat, so named because it was inspired by a piece Rachel McAdam’s character wore in The Notebook. It’s available with or without veiling, I opted for without. I was torn on what colour I wanted because, as ever, my practical side and my ‘but I love it so much’ sides were at war. Love won out and I chose this stunning cobalt blue.
It’s a horseshoe shape crafted out of overlapping leaves formed from velvet ribbon. The design touches the vintage-loving part of me in such a strong way it almost makes me feel a bit emotional; for so many years adoring the vintage pieces and styles shown in films felt like the closest I could get to my adoration of that aesthetic, until I realised several years ago that I really could dress that way if that’s what I wanted. Something about this hat puts me in touch with that yearning part of me from when I was younger in a way that just makes me feel so profoundly grateful that I get to wear these stunning pieces and dress the way I want.
One of the things that makes Katie’s pieces so special is that they look just as pretty on the underside as they do from the top. There’s always a carefully selected complimentary fabric used to cover the no-doubt-complicated stitching that goes into the creation of the pieces, with the Belbeina Lee label attached between two silver combs. Said combs always keep the pieces, no matter their size, firmly in place, which I appreciate greatly as someone who otherwise seems to generally lack the knack to get hair pieces to stay in place properly.
The Freya is a really special piece, a trio of overlapping circles made from quality velvet ribbon set below a chenille yarn pom-pom duo. It’s based on a vintage design, and it really does exude 1940s glamour. It’s such a unique, standout piece that I think I’d even have fun wearing it upside down–picture a simple low, sleek chignon, with the hat positioned so the pom-poms frame the bun from above, with the circles feature clasping the back of the head.
As you can see from the photos of the underside, the quality of Katie’s artistry is top level. Every little detail is thought through and executed with care and precision, resulting in a gorgeous product that feels like it could be passed down through the generations to become future vintage. As with the Rachel, the combs used keep this piece perfectly in place.
Belbeina Lee is a one-woman business, located in New Zealand, available to ship worldwide. She takes orders through her Facebook business page or her Instagram account, and is always incredibly prompt and helpful in her communications.
COVID-19 NOTE: These pictures were taken alone and safely in a secluded outdoors area with no other individuals present or passing, thus abiding by the strict social distancing rules currently in place to help reduce the spread of Covid-19.