It starts with an idea but then what?  How does a milliner go from concept to actual high fashion hats?  While every designer is different, I thought I would share my process.  Let’s take the Macaron Hat that I recently created to wear at the Central Park Conservancy Flo Luncheon (known simply as the Hat Luncheon.)

It started with an idea that I had in my head.  I was thinking of a series of stacked fascinators tied with a big bow. I sketched a rough design and set out to block the different sized fascinators.  But a funny thing happened on the way to the Forum…the concept shifted and evolved into something else.  This frequently happens to me, so I’ve learned to just go with it.

The domed-shaped fascinators looked like a dessert.  I couldn’t get the notion out of my head, so off I went to “Almighty Google.”  I searched for images of macarons, which quickly morphed into macaron hats.  I created a Pinterest board to organize the images and provide a mood board for macaron inspired high fashion hats in the making.  Bingo. At Ladurée, I discovered a macaron raspberry dessert.  The bells in my head went off.  I started to plan out the technical aspects.

The macaron hat would require a top and a bottom. I wanted to make them using a pink wool crepe fabric that matched the dress that I was to wear.  I needed to block the base in straw and then cover it in Italian pink wool crepe.  The dessert was filled with raspberries so I also needed to figure out how to make raspberries.  Back to “Almighty Google” to search how to make fabric fruit.  On one site, I discovered something that I could use as a starting point so I added the image to my Pinterest board.  I needed to ensure that the raspberries were in proportion to the macarons.  Thank heavens for Algebra.  I used the picture to calculate the size of the raspberries in proportion to the top and bottom of the pastry.  From there, I measured the actual fascinator and calculated how big the raspberries needed to be.  I must admit that the first samples were pretty pathetic.  I knew that more work was needed when my daughter laughed uncontrollably after I showed her my first attempt.  Suffice to say the cats got a new red fabric toy, and I continued to evolve the design.

The high fashion hat was heavier that I anticipated so an Alice Band was the way to go.  Once the entire hat was assembled, I wore it around the studio to “test drive the hat” and ensure that it stayed on my head.  I though that I had secured it properly but when I actually wore the hat, it started shifting after several hours!! Go figure.

There’s a great “after” picture of me wearing the hat, in which the hat has gone from perching on the side of my head, to protruding from my head at a 90 degree angle.  The learning for me was to add another comb as a counter weight ensuring that high fashion hats do not end up with lead feet.