How did you become interested in millinery?
I’ve been wearing hats as long as I can remember. As a kid, I was always running around with something fun and crazy on my head. As I got older I started collecting vintage hats and clothing, it was a natural progression I guess.
Where and did you learn millinery?
In the summer of 1998 I got a loft in New England’s largest artists community in Boston. There aren’t a lot of schools offering millinery courses in the States, so I decided to teach myself the art of millinery. I got my hands on a couple of old millinery books and de-constructed some vintage hats to see how they were made. I resolved myself to learning the classic techniques first with the hopes that the rest would come later. It was then I found my true passion… hats!
How long have you been a milliner for?
I was confident I could call myself a milliner when I won 1st Runner as The Hat Magazines, International Hat Designer of the Year in August 2001. I worked in retail management and designed women’s accessories until 1998.
Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
Inspiration for me comes from all directions. Oddly enough, I get great inspiration from the mistakes I’ve made. Sometimes the best creations are stumbled upon by accident. My Hat Studio, which I designed and decorated, abounds with colour, light, pictures, music, books and rolls of fabric. Music and movies are a big inspiration as well.
My greatest inspiration, however, was my grandmother Mamie, who passed away in 1998. She was an amazing self-taught designer and seamstress. With her passing I felt an epiphany to explore my creative desires, which further allowed me to pursue my dreams.
What has been your most enjoyable commission?
Creating a bridal headpiece for a women who was wearing her mother’s Grace Kelly style wedding dress. It was a disc design, 18″/46cm in diameter, covered in ivory veil. It had an abstract modern feel to it that integrated perfectly with the dress. It was so unlike the traditional styles brides in the States usually wear.
How would you describe your style of hats?
From wild and whimsical to funky and sublime. Classic to modern form and fashion.
Who do you make hats for?
The past few seasons have seen an increased interest in hat wearing in the States. Many celebrities, especially the music industry, have enewed the trend of hat wearing. I’ve designed hats for Alicia Keys, TLC and a number of music videos.
It’s also been an unusually cold and snowy winter this year. People who have never worn hats before are buying hats this season. Surprisingly, many have purchased the more whimsical designs and have come back for more. A number of Jewish clients love the “one of a kind” designs for temple and social events. Many younger women getting married these days are going for the more unusual bridal headpieces, which is quite refreshing.
What materials and techniques do you favor?
I really enjoy working with panama straw and felts. Block makers are so rare, I learned to improvise and create a free form design by sculpting and molding the hat by hand. Creating a wearable art piece that comes to life on the client is always a design goal.
Any other interests?
Interior design and construction, music, theatre, independent movies and travel. It’s very important for me to socialize and meet other creative like-minded individuals. For me, nothings more enjoyable then having an evening of dinner and great dialogue with friends; it’s the best therapy.