Stetson Stories

A Man Of Many Hats

Meet Christopher Chevalier.  An artist who happens to have a natural talent for anything he can get his hands on. From film photography to woodworking, to painting and sculpture (just to name a few). The thing about Chris, (the thing he’ll never tell you) is that he is an extremely talented man of many, many hats.

Follow Chris here.

Right from the beginning, I always strived to capture everything I saw as completely as possible.

— Norman Rockwell

Christopher Chevalier is a man of integrity.  He always does the right thing even when he knows it’s going to be hard.  When you ask his mama about him, she’ll tell you that he’s an old soul whose feelings run deep, and when you ask his brother to describe him; his answer is simple and precise, “Chris is gritty and resilient”.  Within the first few minutes of getting to know Chris, you’ll quickly realize that he has a sincere connection to the simpler things in life.  He has an immeasurable appreciation for fine craftsmanship, a fondness for the aesthetic that came with the Golden Era and he treasures the machines that were built post WWII. 

Leather boots made the old-fashioned way: with grit, determination, and an acute eye for detail. Shop the Rancher Boots.

Just a year ago, Chris had been building Black Hawk helicopters for Sikorsky Aircraft in his home state of Connecticut. When his partner, Kay Foye asked him what he loved the most about his time in the factory, he got a far-away look in his eyes and replied, “There is a legacy to that type of work. There are generations of families that worked in that building.  When I stepped into that factory it was like stepping back into time.  A simpler time, a time that really resonates with me. I got to put my hands on an incredible machine and I was an integral part of the production process. Imagine the satisfaction you’d feel after a long day, watching the aircraft you built, fly away as you are was heading home for the day.”

So, every day, for 12 years, Chris woke up at 4am and like a living Norman Rockwell painting, a simple man in his simple uniform, would step into his ’59 F100, place his steel Stanley lunchbox on the bench seat next to him and start his daily commute to the factory in New England. Chris always had a profound respect for his job; however, he also had bigger dreams. Year after year those daydreams would take him Way Out West where life seemed gritty. A place he believed the dust and sagebrush would pull an honesty out of you, a place where you have to be self-sufficient.

In Chris’s younger years he developed a true love for film photography.  “I remember the first time I saw a picture coming together in the developer. It was magic. After that, I brought a film camera in my bag everywhere I went. People thought I was crazy, but I really just didn’t care for the bells and whistles of new technology.”  He explains that there’s a different way that the light reacts to emulsion than a sensor does in a digital camera. “What I see in film photography just feels more like real life than what I see in digital photography.”

 

So, one fine day, a man and his camera decided to make some dreams come true. Chris took off for a weeklong adventure to west Texas for a photography workshop. That was it for him; his daydreams became his reality, and he knew he needed to explore more than New England and his work in the factory.

Check out more of Chris’s film photography here. 

For a few more years his job building Black Hawks afforded him the ability to continue to travel out west in his spare time to take pictures. He would come home and build frames to hold the prints of the images he would capture. The craft of building picture frames led him to an appreciation for woodworking and after over a decade of working in the factory in New England, Chris had the opportunity to move down to Louisiana to be with his soon to be bride, and to finally work in a shop of his very own.

 

Equally at home, out in the field, and on city streets, Stetson’s most classic caps never go out of style.

Chris still wakes up early for work these days, but now he’s on a 100acre horse farm 40 miles outside of New Orleans and every day, just like a living Norman Rockwell painting, he walks by his ’59 F100 with his dogs by his side, to his new shop with his best friend and fiance. They’ve been working on making knives, charcuterie boards, spoons, and scoops in our little country shop that is filled with machines from the ’50s. They still have big plans to continue making their way out west where life is gritty so Chris can capture all of life’s simple moments on film. Most importantly, Christopher Chevalier is still leading his life with integrity and committed to the simple sophistication of making magic with his hands. 

Chris stays warm in the early mornings with the Stetson Knit Pullover.