The article features one of Elliotborough’s treasures, and it tells a tale of the unique and textured lifestyle to be led in Charleston Sc’s only dual zoned commercial and residential neighborhood. Magar purchased the colonial era home on the corner of Felix and Cannon a couple of years ago and has settled in beautifully. The following is an excerpt from Food and Wine Magazine:
Party at the Drop of a Hat
Leigh Magar makes some of the most sensational hats in Charleston, South Carolina—a city where a hat really means something. She outfits cookbook authors Matt Lee and Ted Lee in fedoras for a wonderful outdoor dinner party.
- By Matt Lee
By Ted Lee
Whether it’s a baseball cap or a straw boater, a cloche or a four-foot-wide church bonnet, Southerners love the blast of self-expression—and the shade—of a great hat. Our friend Leigh Magar designs ravishing ones for Magar Hatworks in Charleston.
We first met Leigh and her architect husband, Johnny Tucker, at a crab boil on the banks of a creek south of the city. The two of them appeared to have stepped out of a 1930s film. Her hat, a spray of feathers, was perched rakishly over an immaculate bob; he wore a three-piece suit and a leopard-print fedora. And then Leigh pulled from her handbag a red polka-dot apron, tied it on over her vintage dress, and proceeded to pick apart and devour the crabs on the table with a gusto unmatched by any of the good ol’ boys in their camouflage caps.
At any party, Leigh and Johnny are always the first to hit the oyster-shucking table and the last dancing on the porch, even when the candelabra above has begun to drip wax on everyone’s heads. When she shows her hat collections, she turns that into a party, too. People come to the garden of her studio to drink tea (and quite a lot of wine), eat pimento-cheese sandwiches and watch models circulate among the fig and mulberry trees wearing Magar Hatworks’s latest trilbies, fedoras and cocktail hats. Recently, Leigh packed up her fall collections and sent them on their way to Barneys New York and the Tokyo retailer Isetan. There was a brief lull before she would embark on a series of exclusive designs for New York designer Gary Graham. As her occasional cohosts, it seemed to us as good a time as any for a party in her garden.
When guests arrived and began to gather on the porch, we passed around lacy squash blossoms stuffed with red-pepper ricotta—our riff on Leigh’s pimento-cheese sandwiches and a tribute to Tuscany, where she and Johnny tied the knot. Leigh ladled out a fiery watermelon gazpacho with crab and avocado—a twist on Mary Randolph’s “gaspacho,” from the seminal Southern cookbook The Virginia Housewife, and our nod to Johnny’s home state.
“Ruined finery—that’s all I have left,” Leigh exclaimed wryly as she poured the magenta-hued soup into an antique bowl, quoting actress Mary Astor in the campy 1965 film Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte. She was apologizing for chips and hairline cracks in the bowl, from a treasured floral-patterned set handed down from her great-grandmother. That’s so Leigh: A lot of folks in Charleston keep their heirlooms under glass, but she and Johnny refuse to. They’re always in their best vintage clothes, whether at the farmers’ market on any given Saturday or at a tony Spoleto Festival music fete; they clatter around town in an old Mercedes. Click here to visit the magazines website and read on...