There are machine-made hats, hand-made hats and then there are couture hats. These hats are made using haute couture sewing techniques and take millinery to a new level. One seen more on the runway or in fashion magazines than on main street. It’s where art and fashion intersect. The result is an artistic endeavor that is wearable and truly unique.
The starting point for making couture hats is listening to what the client wants from the couture hat. Rather than describe what the hat should look like, I prefer to ask how the person wants to feel. Elegant? Unique? Striking? Understated? Timeless? Is the goal to stand out and be photographed at an event? Or is it part of a special occasion ensemble and someone else will be the center of attention? Both are equally valid but require a difference sensibility. A lot of research goes into creating couture hats, since inspiration comes from quite a few different places. I used to create a mood board using poster board and magazine images, but went high-tech a few years ago and now create digital mood boards (sometimes via Pinterest.) From there sketches are made, fabrics selected and prices calculated. Only then does the blocking and the sewing start.
Little by little, the hat starts to emerge. Like an haute couture dress, everything is hand stitched and very precise. As a couture milliner, I want to ensure that it is comfortable and looks as it was envisioned. Couture hats involve multiple fittings because it’s important to work out how the hat will fit securely on the head. Combs, alice bands, elastics and clips all work differently. There’s some experimentation based upon the type of hair and the size of the hat. Only then, can it be considered ready. It takes time to make a couture hat and the results are well worth it.