Yellowstone stars’ hats begin in Greeley, Colo.
Yellowstone, for fans of the series of the same name, evokes visions of a sprawling Montana ranch and the family and crew who live and work there. On June 19, the Yellowstone was the signature cocktail — a take on an Old Fashioned with rye whisky, bourbon, cognac and apple brandy — at the Kress Cinema & Lounge in Greeley, Colo.
To celebrate the season two premier of the show, Greeley Hat Works owner Trent Johnson hosted a local screening with all funds donated to the Weld County Food Bank.
Johnson made a hat for Yellowstone writer and reining horse enthusiast Taylor Sheridan about 15 years ago. Some years later, Sheridan found Johnson’s cell phone number through a mutual friend and called Johnson. He asked if Johnson would be interested in working on a show called Wind River and Johnson said he would call him back the next day. After a quick Google search, Johnson was all in.
“They flew me out to Park City (Utah), which is where the studio was they were working out of for Wind River,” he said. “I flew out there and hung out with him and Jeremy Renner for a few days.”
While there, he watched Renner, who played wildlife officer Cory Lambert on the show, and how he wears, removes, and puts on his hat. When he returned to Greeley, he made Renner a custom hat, distressing it and adding wear marks to lend authenticity.
When Wind River wrapped up, Johnson and Sheridan stayed in touch and when Yellowstone began taking shape, he again called on Johnson. Sheridan sent him a copy of the script for the first episode and flew him out on a one-way ticket. Sheridan told him he wasn’t sure how long he would be on set, hence the one-way ticket. Johnson arrived and started getting an idea of the look needed for each of the characters.
He found himself digging through boxes of costume props sent from Hollywood to Ruth Carter, an Academy Award-winning costume designer.
“I started going through all the boots and hats and I was like, ‘no … no … no … yes … no,” he said. “They were like, ‘why are you throwing that other stuff?’ and I told Ruth, I’m in the West, this is my business, Taylor asked me out here, and Taylor would not let anybody in the movie wear those square boots with the big gold metal ring on the side, that’s not cowboy.”
Johnson and a few of the costume staffers made a shopping trip, bringing back with them authentic clothing, boots and décor. By his fourth day, Johnson said he was hanging out with the cast, getting to know them better, and had even ridden cutting horses with them. All of this familiarity translated artistically to the way Johnson crafted and distressed the hats for each character.
“For John Dutton, I ended up making five different looks, five different hats, and for each look, there were multiple hats,” he said. “For his silver belly hat, I made him three and his stunt double one. So for every person, I built multiple hats for the trick is to distress them, they need to look authentic.”
Not only did each hat need to look authentic, it needed to look like each of the others so the same scene, shot wearing different versions of the same hat, would look consistent and identical. After a week spent on set, Johnson said the cast and crew are all genuine, hard-working, real people he said he enjoyed spending time with.
Johnson said the show serves as a first look at the West and the ranching lifestyle for many viewers. The season two premier, complete with hats custom made by Johnson, was an opportunity for Greeley Hat Works to host a local screening to benefit the Weld County Food Bank. Johnson, who has been a supporter of the facility for about 15 years, said food insecurity and hunger is present even in Weld County, one of the largest agriculture-producing counties in the nation. Hunger, he said, is especially concerning in the summertime when kids do not have access to school nutrition programs. The screening raised $1,000 for the Weld County Food Bank which translates to about 4,000 meals, plus the nonperishable food donations collected at the event.
Season three filming is slated to begin in August and Johnson has begun work on hats worn in those episodes.
Yellowstone can be seen Wednesdays at 10 p.m./9 p.m. CT on the Paramount Channel. ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 392-4410.