How did you become interested in millinery?
I was a fashion/tailor student in the fashion school of the Hague. A friend of mine who was studying costume knew a milliner and asked her to teach us millinery for fun. I enjoyed it and continue to take lessons with this lady. I was impressed and enthusiastic about millinery. I continued from there.
Where and why did you learn millinery?
When I finished the fashion/tailor school, I took lessons with Rose Cory (London) and started my own business. Every summer I took lessons at the London College of Fashion in summer school and master classes taught by Susie Hopkins (London).
How long have you been a milliner for?
I have had my own business for more then 10 years. In the beginning the company name was “Head and Housetrends”; at that stage I designed/made a lot of things. I made baskets for old-timers, soft furnishing articles, slipcovers for furniture. I worked together with a firm that produced suede/leather clothes and I designed hats for them. A few years ago I decided to specialise in hats alone even though Holland is not known for hat-wearing! I changed the company name to Berry Rutjes Jr. (my own name), chose a new logo, brief paper/envelopes, creating a whole new house style. I also rebuilt the shop, like a French hat shop/atelier (a little bit of Paris in Gouda).
Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
I get a lot of inspiration when I am in France. Not only from the fashion, but also food, buildings, people, etc. I prefer good traditions and techniques and then give my own expression to it. I also really love shoes, bags, hand gloves and accessories. However, I have specialsed in hats. I also still make little handbags that compliment my hats and cuffs, just a bit of fun! I admire good craftsmanship and passion in someone’s work. I hope my own work expresses that also.
How would you describe your style of hats?
Colourful, stylish. Mostly occasion wear. When you have the right accessories, you only can wear a “black” dress and look wonderful.
Who do you make hats for?
Most of the time I make hats for brides, special occasions and for people attending Sunday church.
I also made hats for the wedding of Maxima and Willem-Alexander (our Crown-Prince) in February 2002. Every year we have “Prinsjesdag”, the third Tuesday in September, when every minister wears a hat (not all of mine of course!).
I work with some fashion designers locally (bridal shops/couturier) and I also wholesale to a shop in Japan (where they adore my European way of working). I have also made hats for a shops in Berlin, Münster and Antwerp.
What materials and techniques do you favor?
I do like a lot of materials, but I primarily work with velour’s (felt), sisal, parabuntal, florentine straw and sinamay. I also use etamine/sparterie. I like to use a lot of special feathers and handmade flowers on my hats.