Elisabeth Koch
Elisabeth KochMilliner

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How did you become interested in millinery?

I have been hat crazy since I was dressing up as a child. I went to a wedding of friends of my parents in Atlanta (Georgia), where I grew up. My mother gave my sister and I matching hats to wear. I loved them. They were very large straw hats with long ribbons around them and hanging down at the back. After that I started collecting old vintage hats and then attempted to make them myself before actually having proper training.

Where and why did you learn millinery?

I went to the Wombourne School of Millinery near Wolverhampton in the United Kingdom.

How long have you been a milliner for? Where else did you work?

I have been a milliner for about half a year, before that I was working in marketing departments in various banks in Amsterdam and Brussels. I could vent some of my creativity there, but it was in my spare time that I would find myself drawing, knitting, sewing and making all sorts of things. Finally I decided to take the plunge and do this – something I really want to do – full time.

Where do you get inspiration for your designs?

Mostly from nature (ducks, shrimp, leaves), but also from regular things that I see. I may look at a pecan, a dinner plate or roof of a house and think, “That would make a great hat!” My hats are out of the ordinary.

What has been your most enjoyable commission?

I was asked to make two identical hats for a photoshoot here in Beijing for a famous Chinese singer named Mimi. They are Yunnan-style rice field worker hats, but red on the inside and white on the outside, plus a hole at the top for the hair to go through.

How would you describe your style of hats?

Not your regular (boring) wedding hat. Mine have something else, either Barbies sitting on the brim or entirely covered in grass. No matter where you go, if you wear one of my hats, people will talk about it!

Who do you make hats for?

Some could be everyday wear, others are for those who want to make a statement at weddings or horse races. They are also available to rent as window dressing or photoshoots.

What materials and techniques do you favor?

I use mostly felt and sinamay. Both are blocked, but I also have some free form hats. Decorations can be feathers but I love using petersham and plastics.

Any other interests?

I love to socialise, travel and see new places and people.