The Mad Hatter might be the most famous maker of headwear, but Tinseltown tips its cap to flesh-and-blood designer Mark Mejia, owner of Baron Hats in Burbank. Mejia, who has designed chapeaus for Hollywood A-listers since 1995, has seen his work appear in magazine photo-shoots and dozens of films, including “Curious George” and “True Grit.”
Getting Started: In the late ’80s, Mejia met Eddy Baron, who famously owned a little black book with the hat sizes of the glitterati. Mejia became his apprentice and in 1995 bought Baron Hats. “I was a little overwhelmed because they were big shoes to fill,” Mejia says, adding that 70% of his business comes from the motion picture industry.
Star Power: Customers include Leonardo DiCaprio, Danny DeVito and his first, Robert Duvall. Diane Keaton wore one on a Vogue shoot. Production companies turn to him regularly, particularly for genre films. (Mejia also has a consumer line: His floppy wool hats retail for $45 for Los Angeles-based American Apparel.)
Feeling the Heat: Hats generally take a week or two to complete, depending on the topper. Mejia recently had to have one delivered on quick turnaround for the upcoming movie “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.” “The pressure of the day-to-day movie stuff makes me crazy,” Mejia says, adding with a smile, “I do well under pressure.”
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Global Inspiration: Mejia travels the globe for inspiration and materials. He has bought straw hats woven in Ecuador, and silver pieces in Mexico to use in his designs. He has a partner with a small office in France, where he buys antique ribbons. “I create stuff with so many different components from around the world,” Mejia says, “that I literally have the world in my fingertips.”