Sitting in Cassandra MacGregor’s studio, with sunlight pouring through the window and Raphael Saadiq playing on the stereo, the vibe is more Alice than Mad Hatter. MacGregor moved her millinery company, the House of MacGregor, to Oak Cliff a little more than a year ago. The Plano High School graduate, originally from Massachusetts, lives and works in Oak Cliff, but she got her fashion training in New York. She worked for Lynne Mackey, who designs hats for Broadway productions, and she put some of her creative product on the heads of cast members from “The Color Purple” and “Wicked.” She also worked for a haute couture milliner and a custom-hat designer who does high-end weddings and Kentucky Derby hats.
How did you get into hat making?
I was an art history and English major, and I was working for an auction house in New York City. I took some hat-making classes at F.I.T. for fun. And the class was filled with people who were trying to get out of their 9-5 office jobs. That was in 2002. I took four classes, and eventually I quit my day job and started my own hat line that I sold at a store, and then I worked for hat makers at the same time.
Where can people buy your hats?
I sell them at VOD in Victory Plaza and the Hat Shop in New York, and then I do appointments out of my studio.
Why did you choose Oak Cliff for your studio?
I totally fell in love with it over here. I love the houses and the people and the restaurants and just the vibe of the neighborhood. It has so much character. I picked this space (in an office above Bolsa) because this can be a really solitary job, so it’s nice to have the energy over here. Even if I’m working really late at night, I can open the windows and hear people coming in and out of the restaurant, and I feel like I’m a part of what’s going on.
Your hats range from $180 for a little cocktail hat up to $400 for an elaborate Kentucky Derby hat; why are they a good investment?
It’s something that should last you a lifetime. Because you’re getting it from somebody who actually made it, you can change the ribbon out, or you can get it re-blocked if it gets out of shape.
What can we expect to see next in hat fashions?
I think people started wearing more hats about a year or two ago, and you get started on, say, a fedora, or something else that looks good on everyone. But the more you start to wear hats, you start to want one that no one else has. So I think people are going to become more comfortable wearing more individualized hats.