Stella Dottir is an Icelandic eccentric silver-dreadlocked fashion designer who operates her eponymous custom dress shop on Main Street, near Winston, downtown. Back when she opened, the spot was in the heart of Skid Row. Never one to shy away from adversity, she saw the recent economic downturn as an opportunity. Dottir, known for her velvet and lace gothic Victorian clothing, saw the chance to extend her shop with a line of one-of-a-kind hats, raw silk cloche; brocade and feathered headdresses; and other chapeaus inspired by the 1930s. “During the Great Depression,” she explains, sounding straight out of Reykjavik, “women could not afford new clothes, so they would buy beautiful hats to dress up their wardrobes, and turn heads.” Dottir's carefully tailored hats sell for only $60 to $80, much less than her handmade dresses and jackets. She picks up a black crushed-velvet model with a black veil and ostrich feathers and puts it on her head. “Plus,” she says smiling coyly, as she pulls the black veil down over her face, “there may not be money for plastic surgery during the recession, and these hats are better than a face-lift anyway.” 430 S. Main St., L.A. (213) 623-8464,

—Linda Immediato

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