Odilon Ozare’s creation can be spotted from a hundreds yards away.
Standing 4.8 m (15 ft 9 in) tall, his light grey top hat in Tampa, Florida (USA) now officially holds the record as the Tallest hat – and it’s very impressive.
The 40-year-old is a huge fan of the top hat, and explained why he's so enthusiastic about them.
"Hats have always been used to enhance the greatness of the wearer. The taller the hat, the greater the wearer. Who is the greatest American? Abraham Lincoln. Why? In part, because of his top hat!”
Odilon has made hundreds of hats during his career as a milliner, and wishes to see them become more mainstream. On the days he isn’t stretching felt over hat shape forms, he’s thinking up new designs and sketching ideas.
It’s a passion he's had since childhood, when his grandmother first introduced him to the art of hat-making.
Interestingly enough, while Odilon’s grandmother first helped him learn his record-breaking trade, it was his grandfather who indirectly inspired him to go after his record title.
A small doll that his grandfather once had was given to Odilon after he passed away, a figure which he recalled being dressed in similar uniform to his grandfather’s time in the Korean War.
“I immediately had a connection to it and over time it became an extension of me. I began to call it 'Little Odie'. Like my grandfather dressed it in military fatigues, I started dressing it in tailcoat suits like myself.
"One day I was making the doll a top hat with a rolled up piece of paper. I was about to cut it and I paused a moment, covered the entire tube with wool felt and made the hat 11 inches which is ridiculously tall for a 9-inch doll.
"That inspired me to start making a matching one for myself. Since I was a small boy I’ve always followed Guinness World Records title holders, so as I was making the hat I thought to inquire about the record and soon found that mine was in fact a contender - and I started the process for proving it.”
Part of that process included having Odilon wear and carry the enormous hat more than ten feet without it toppling over.
After constructing his first prototype - which took hours of labour - a strong gust of wind sadly blew it to the ground, crushing the masterpiece.
Forced to restart the process, the craftsman was determined to get his name in the record books and prove his capabilities as a milliner.
Odilon’s hat now resides in Ella’s Folk-art Café in Tampa, known locally as a haven for eccentric artists.
He is pleased with the feedback of his accomplishment, and is happy that his talent can be appreciated by so many.
Photos: Andy Stern