Natashia Steenkamp is so hooked on hats that the designs she made for a few friends for last year's big race ended up launching her own hat-making company, Hatz by Natz.

There is nothing quite like a hat to top off an outfit and as anyone who has worn one to the Vodacom Durban July knows, it adds that little bit of glamour.

And yes, say the experts, those fascinators are still in fashion: great for people who don’t want to buy a traditional hat. Not everyone suits hats either, but fascinators still fit the bill and are real head-turners.

Says Rizwana Singh, a respected designer and someone who feels passionately that millinery is a forgotten art in South Africa: “Millinery is an integral part of fashion design and it is sad that it is becoming a lost art.

“Hats and racing fashion for days like the Vodacom Durban July go hand in glove, but so few designers have the ability or training to be able to make a hat from scratch.

“It’s an art that we need to encourage and teach to emerging designers.”

The theme for this year’s Vodacom Durban July is “A Material World?”.

Singh says this offers is a “terrific opportunity to come up with a striking stylish hat that will complement your outfit and make a strong statement reflecting the green theme”.

“All of the items used to create my fascinators and hats were items that I had, and that were recycled, reused and reinvented to create the desired look,” she said.

* Natashia Steenkamp, who has a real passion for hats, is looking forward to the Vodacom Durban July next month.

She is so hooked on hats that the designs she made for a few friends for last year’s big race ended up launching her own hat-making company, Hatz by Natz.

“I have always been creative and I am planning to become a full-time milliner,” says Steenkamp.

She posted some of her race-day designs on Facebook and they were so eye-catching that she was contacted by a couple of suppliers, she recalled.

“Everything I do is a one-off, unique design. You don’t want to walk into the Vodacom Durban July and see someone wearing the same hat,” she said.

Her future plans include designing children’s hats, as she believes there is a gap in the market.

And how is she interpreting this year’s theme, A Material World?

“I am going for more natural colours, and green and red, and keeping it simple.”– Daily News

* Go to Steenkamp’s website for a peek at her creations:

Dos and don’ts for hats

* Do keep your headgear feminine and chic, experiment with colour, textures and different materials to create a piece that complements your garment.

* Do keep your headgear simple if your garment is bold, and vice-versa.

* Do make sure your make-up highlights your face and hat. Use colours that complement your skin tone and stand out from the crowd. Dare to be different.

* Don’t take the theme too literally and create or wear headgear that is too large and cannot be worn comfortably.

* Don’t use too many feathers.

* Don’t wear shoes that you cannot last the day in.

* The Durban July is on July 7 this year.