Who is Maria Dumitrache?
Maria Dumitrache is a renowned hatmaker based in Bucharest, Romania. She is the person behind the ‘Maria Palaria’ brand [‘palaria’ - Romanian version of ‘hat’]. She has spent the last 6 years designing and manufacturing exquisite hats for stylish people and celebrities.
Her passion for hatmaking allows her to keep this ‘endangered’ trade alive by using traditional techniques combined with innovative designs.
How did you start making hats?
I did not know hatmaking was my passion. I graduated the University of Physiotherapy but I soon realized this was not going to be my thing. I had various jobs throughout my studies as I was trying to discover myself and my passions. But what I always knew was that I was good at making art and painting. Crafting things and learning to do all sorts of creative jobs came very easy to me. Convinced that the secret of happiness lies in the joy of using my own hands, I slowly decided to change careers.
At that point, I was lucky enough to come across a prominent Romanian hatmaker, aged 90, who recognized my talent and dedication. He soon became my mentor and for a year I would go and sit by his side, trying to absorb everything. Learning this old trade from him, using the same centuries-old techniques, was everything I could have wished for.
When did ‘Maria Palaria’ become a brand?
I started by making hats for friends, who were impressed by my designs. Having no financial help whatsoever, I had to improvise a lot as I could not afford all the necessary tools. But I was pretty resourceful and I would always find alternatives which would prove equally good. The most important thing was I did not give up in spite of all difficulties.
I then rented a small space, my Atelier, where all the magic happened. From there, with patience and a lot of work, my creations really took off. I am proud to say that now Maria Palaria takes orders from all over the world.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get my inspiration from anything that relates to life: people’s stories, beautiful moments, different cultures, nature… Anything that sparks my interest, things that give me a mood.
Why are you different from other hatmakers?
I am a woman in a male-dominated trade so my vision and ideas differ. I create ‘hats with a story’ as I believe that hats reflect the true spirit of the wearer: we are all unique with different life stories. Each of my hats is manually crafted in my Atelier, combining precise and well-established techniques with innovative designs. I make hats in a way that allows me to bond with the fabrics and the tools I use.