Maybe it’s because it’s Halloween weekend, or because the event has the word “art” in the title, but guests at the Strathmore’s tART party on Thursday put a lot of awesomely weird stuff on their heads.
Guests are treated to an array of headgear as they sip elderberry liquor cocktails and take in the electronic musical stylings of Yoko K. Col. Bill Billingsley works the tastefully attired crowd in a black western hat. (And that is “western,” not “cowboy,” as Billingsley admonishes me.)
“For me, this is trademarked attire,” he explains. “I tend to wear caps during the day,” but for “these more formal affairs,” he goes with a Stetson.
“I have four,” he says. “Two black, one silver belly, and one that’s kind of a pecan color.” Billingsley has dropped as much as $2,800 on a pure beaver hat.
“It costs money to dress like this,” he says.
Not if you buy your headwear at low-rent mall stores that cater to teen girls. Says Amy Mascott of the black corsage-like fixture that covers half of her blonde wavy hair, “It is a clip.” Pause. “That I got at Claire’s.”
Despite procuring the hairpiece (which she believes doubles as a pin) at a store “where I feel like I should hide my head when I’m in there,” Mascott is pleased with the flair it brings to her gray ribbed dress. “I thought it kind of dressed up my outfit,” she says.
Other headgear highlights: a woman in a white bob working a black jeweled headband fashioned into a spider, and a young brunette with a peacockesque feathered device tucked in her hair. The most disappointing hatless guest: performance artist Adrian Parsons, looking slightly out of place among the little white-haired ladies in fur, and very sadly sporting nothing on his head.
The night’s greatest hairpiece crowns the head of Farida Badalov: a fantastic concoction of black flowers and feathers that stands five inches off her dark red hair. A member of the waitstaff does a slight doubletake as she walks by with bowls of pumpkin ravioli.
“I bought it at few years ago at Saks, for a masquerade,” she says. For four years, it went unworn. “It’s in style now, so I thought I’d take my chances.” Badalov, born in the former Soviet Union, wears “all kinds” of hats and took a moment to show me photos on her phone of her and a friend donning wild headgear at a polo match.
That friend sits across from her now, wearing a black lace dress and a pile of pearls but a bare head. Why didn’t she wear a hat tonight?
Her voice full of regret, she answers, “I don’t know.”