When it comes to sporting headwear with panache, you can't beat the British — or so says Satanica Batcakes, the Echo Park milliner known for her dramatic taxidermied hat designs. Her pieces, which feature everything from dove wings to repurposed burlesque corsetry, are perfect for the ritziest summer tea party or poshest polo match, but they're more affordable than those of Batcakes' hero, royal milliner Philip Treacy. As such, they enjoy a loyal following among those English high-society girls who appreciate Batcakes' unique balance of chic and theatrical. “One of my hats was front row at Ascot [the fanciest horse race in England] this year,” she beams.
Still, her appeal isn't only in hoity-toity circles. She has a natural flair for showgirl glam that is beloved by Diablo Cody, who wore a Batcakes Couture veil when she got married last year, and high-fashion songstress Karen Elson.
Many of Batcakes' customers are intrigued by her name, although a group of Southern Baptist ladies once went so far as to cancel their order because of it. Apparently, they felt uncomfortable making out a check to the self-proclaimed bride of Beelzebub.
Satanica Batcakes was her performer name, back when she was a ring girl and fire-eater, renowned for her work with performance groups Lucha VaVoom and the Girly Freakshow. “The first headpieces I made were giant feather fans and headdresses so that I could compete in the Miss Exotic World Pageant,” she says. And if you've never seen someone doing the splits on shattered glass wearing a flaming menorah hat — well, you've never seen a Satanica show.
When the burlesque craze started to fade, she moved into fashion. Batcakes was Courtney Love's personal shopper for a while — “An armed guard would pick me up and we'd go shopping,” she says. But hats had always inspired her, especially the ones she saw in old movies and on the heads of “black church ladies in Philly,” where she lived as a child. Her friend, red-haired Hollywood glamour girl Lenora Claire, suggested she start an online Etsy store for her hats, “because the drag queens will love them.” So, two and a half years ago, she launched Batcakes Couture, selling cocktail hats, fascinators and sculptural headpieces. All of them are “color-wheel perfect, and without visible glue drops anywhere,” she says, thanks to her background in puppet making.
“I thought my audience was going to be goth girls and trannies,” says Batcakes, who likes to listen to gangster rap in her hat studio. “Then everyone started asking for them in white.” Now, Batcakes Couture caters to rock & roll brides the world over. Which is ironic, since she doesn't believe in marriage.
What she does believe in, though, is making a huge entrance. With brides, she explains, “Their wedding is often the one time in their life that they can really take the stage. And that's something I know all about.”