Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Old Hat

The trend in the last few weeks has been to bring in a hat found in the bottom of the closet, to have it refurbished.  For those of you who remember, it's also called "updating".
     When hats were hotter than they are now, and you had more than two in your life, it was important to show off  the latest style.  To do that, and not spend more money on another hat, some people brought it into their milliner to have it re-blocked, re-designed, re-created......in short, done over.  During the WWII years, this was the norm, as it had been during the Great Depression.  You took Granmother's hat out of the dusty attic, and used it to recreate a copy of the latest French styles.
Nowadays, while we're in the throes of a depression, but not quite there yet, a little hat can uplift and change your mood.  Time to look in the back of the closet, raid your Mothers wardrobe, or run to a thrift store, and get a hat.  It should have some basic elements necessary to change it: it must be made from quality materials.  It should be sewn, and not glued together, and it should not be too dirty.  Squashed is okay; run over by a muddy truck isn't.
Cleaning a good felt is usually possible, but a straw that has grit embedded in it's fibers becomes a problem child.  Nothing is impossible, but the realm of possibilities can be limited, depending upon the hat.
We take no offense to being called upon to restore these poor crushed beauties.  After all, we want hats out there in the world, singing, and dancing.  Not hidden in the backs of closets.  Bring them out, hie them hither, and allow us to let them be reborn.

Friday, December 19, 2008

January Whites

     Just in time for the snowfall here in NYC, the issue of W Magazine with Christy Turlington on the cover has arrived  . January is upon us, and Christmas not yet here.

     Our "Diva" couture headpiece is featured in their special feature on bridal whatevers. Called "Chic to Chic", the story covers gowns, jewels, shoes, bags, with  our hat in the lead, on the index pages.  White dazzling white, the Diva has appeared in many versions through the years, but lately the ultimate complement has happened: we've been knocked off by Urban Outfitters. 
     While my brain concocts many a new and exciting cocktail hat, the favorites remain, and the Diva has always held first place. When discos ruled the earth, and sequins were the mainstay of every diva's wardrobe, this little hat was re-born .  Popular in the 1930's as an evening touch of glam, the look became popular on the dancefloors of Manhattan  in the 1970's and picked up a following .  Seen at weddings, bar mitzvahs, proms, and nightclubs, the small, circular perchy hat stayed in the subconscious of hat lovers, waiting for a new venue.
   When I opened Ellen Christine, the shop, we did this little hat as an evening piece, with veiling, and a feather, not just in black, but in colors of the customers' choice.......translated  for brides, it went glam, with swarovski rhinestones added for a glow factor.
     Always on the website, sometimes in the shop, now in W Magazine for your viewing pleasure...Ladies and Gentlemen, I present: The Diva.

 Urban Outfitters, you need me.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sample Sale Eternal

     Ellen Christine Millinery goes Etsy for a sample sale.  
As of Dec. 4th, go to :


for a streaming sample sale.  Find current models, past inspiration, and samples from Spring 2009 up for grabs at low prices.  We'll be running new items every week, so check back often for something you want or something you've been dreaming about.
   The Etsy community is the perfect venue for our sample sale, a place where hand made ideas made real come to light.  Our samples are made with the same care as our couture, so for those who don't live in New York City, this is a remarkable opportunity to own an original Ellen Christine hat or headpiece for a fraction of the cost in the shop.
     Our workshop will be putting in some interesting vintage ingredients, and research materials for all of the Etsy folk to peruse and drool over.  We have boxes and boxes of antique trims, feathers, ribbons, blocks, books and reference materials....since we're at an overflow mark, we are opening the floodgates to the crafters of the world.
   Please stop by the Etsy page, and do feel free to pass this along to al of your fellow hat lovers.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Holiday "Hats-Off"

     Go to www.hatsoffthemovie.com right away and get a copy of this wonderful film for every hat lover on your list.  Throw in a hat, and you've got the perfect present. 

     Directed by Jyll Johnstone, produced by Jyll Johnstone and Michael Arlen Davis, the documentary traces the day to day life of  the indomitable Mimi Weddell, actress and hat wearer sublime.  Mimi Weddell plays herself: she taps, acts, poses and happens to be 93 years of age.  Named by New York Magazine as one of the "50 Most Beautiful People in New York", Mimi has appeared in television, films and ad campaigns since she began her acting career 30 years ago.  
     The darling of the film festival circuit, both here and in Europe, "Hats Off" celebrates the life and whimsy of a determined, pragmatic woman "rising above it" in New York City, in an industry that calls for singleminded determination, at any age.

     This film will make you get up, get out, and celebrate your every waking moment.  
Now, go buy a hat and have an adventure!

Photo courtesy of Nicole Begiveno/The New York Times

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Post Party Syndrome

We did it!  We had the march up Fifth Avenue, and the party at Haven, and the coverage in the New York Times.  For our first event, I'd say the Milliners Guild of NYC has hit the streets. Party planning in New York is difficult at best, but with a group of designers as a committee, it's downright challenging.
When in doubt, delegate, and so we did.  We had Monika as the party hearty planner; Lisa as the decorating committee for Haven.  Anastasia was the liason supreme with the owners of Haven.  The p.r. committee was comprised of myself, Linda Pagan, and Michelle Peglau.  there were sub-committees, as well:  the makers of the feathered headpieces we gave as gifts in the goody bags; the stuffers of the goody bags; the rest of the Guild as back-up and consultants.  for those of you out there, feel free to ask any questions about doing a serious gig with a very small budget, and I'l be happy to steer you in the right directions.
Oh, the goody bags!  Moire from Rochester baked organic cookies in the shape of hats!  We had CD's contributed from several of our respective clients, and gift certificates from our affiliates.
Jewelry, make-up, and containers of mints with the Guild's brand on them as toppers.  Any member of the press received this little token of our appreciation, although it isn't done quite so much anymore.
The open bar served vodka martinis created especially by Haven for the event, and the dislay of hats from the Guild members was superbly executed by Lisa on the mezzanine .  Get thee to Haven for their ambiance, food, bar..........a great spot, truly comfortable and ultra-hip. Rare on the Upper East Side, without being stuffy.
Milliners, rejoice!  We did it, and did it in New York style!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hat On the Town

...Onward march the Catherinettes!  Tomorrow in NYC, leaving from the Millinery District Synagogue at 1025 6th avenue, the NYC Millinery Gu1ld , and proceed in an orderly, abeit hatted, fashion, through Midtown, up to Rockefeller Center and on to Haven.  The idea of this promenade is to celebrate St. Catherine's Day for the first time in New York, and honor our fellow milliners the world over who put the needle down once a year for this Fete.  
St. Catherine is the patron Saint of milliners, and in Paris, for decades, the "grisettes", who work behind the scenes in the Grands Maisons, unmarried, 25, and dressed in green and yellow, march en masse to the statue of St. Catherine and climb up to crown her.  
Where is our St. Catherine, you might ask?   We haven't designated a statue as yet for the crowning, but we will gather en masse in commemoration of the day.
Join us, with a fabulous hat on to be sure, and come up Fifth Avenue.  Let the tourists wonder and be amazed!
Onto 51st St., and then to Haven, where we will have a vodka bar open for one hour.  A selection of hats, and a selection of milliners will be at your disposal for interviews, and gawking.
Come, join us, for this, the first Hat Happy Hour.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Time and Time Again

     Pick up this week's Time Out for an article about Ellen Christine Millinery.  It's a brief interview, highlighting some of the Fall 08 styles, a gorgeous headshot of yours truly, and some nice words from the reporter.  
Although we are included in many, many editorial layouts, in  the important High Fashion magazines around the world, features of the shop are not as frequent.  Having said that,I must point out that this is the second one this Fall (see Sept: Actives, France), so maybe it's a new trend.  On a roll here, next week we are doing a piece for Threadbangers, an online clue to how, from a NY team of fashion seekers.  We'll highlight it here as soon as it's released.
     So, a loud thank you, to the editors of Time Out NY Magazine, and to the writer, Jacqueline Colette Prosper for her wonderful article.
     She picked up on my dream contract:  a  new Tiara for the Statue of Liberty every few years. Why not?  She's probably wondering why she never gets to change her outfit .  After all, this is New York, and she is from Paris.  Doesn't she have a reputation to maintain?
     So, instead of cows, let's do a collection of gigantic tiaras, placed all over town, funded by an approapriate arts group (are you listening, Mayor Bloomberg?), and sold, to make money for the city.  I'd love to see huge tiaras all over town, on top of the bull on Wall Street, in the North Marina, in Madison Square Park..need I go on?  I shall ponder this, my next project, and you, dear reader, feel free to send your ideas and comments to this blog.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Chanel Leaves New York Airspace

It's sunday, the last day of the Chanel Mobile Art Pavilion, done by Zaha Hadid.  the only way I was going to see this exhibit was to get myself up at 5 a.m. to stand in line by 7.  Instinct told me to get there even sooner than that, and it's a good thing I listen to myself: I was now alone, to say the least, at 6 a.m. when I got there.  
Amid the glory of Central Park's autumn palette, the construct sits demure and calm amid speakers that even at 6 a.m. were emitting sounds of white music. New Yorkers were already out, wondering what the line was for, and the Chanel boys were all in a row, giving instructions, help, and directions.  Chanel designed a lightweight jacket for the uniform of the outdoor crew, and a tshirt for the indoor crew.  I 'm told the jacets travel with the show, but I'll bet the tshirts show up on eBay.
Tickets are had by ascending a staircase, standing in line, and strolling across a leaf strewn courtyard to a module that mimics the mothership.  then, the ticketholder gets in the appropriate line and waits for 15 minutes until entry is permitted.  All very controlled, and regimented, but somehow not irritating.  The feeling is civilized, organized, and anticipatory.
Inside, the art installation is segmented, and you are given an MP3 player of your very own as a gude.  The voice is that of Jeanne Moreau, seductive and soothing,  in a poetic composition that manages your progress through the exhibit.
Art is sometimes disturbing, sometimes relative, sometimes boring.  Chanel Mobile Art curated it's content based on the questions "What is Chanel", using the 2.55 iconic quilted bag as a starting point for inspiration. It's never boring, but some of it will be your cup of tea, and some of it won't.  
The result is a changing body of work that allows perspective, meditation, and opinions to happen and grow on an individual platform.  As a collective stream of humanity, the flow through the Pavilion is only restricted in the time chosen for pacing.  As selective single voyeurs, the observers form their own point of view, free to see which corner of each space they choose . 
 As the art works are textural in inspiration, they use depth perception as fabric, layering their chosen medium and imagery . The floors and walls read textural, whether it be reflective mica, or 3-D tiled floral composition, the texture of Chanel streams in harmony with the modernist shapes, forms and divisions within the structure.
On to Moscow and London, landing in Paris, the module defines fashion as life, and will garner criticism, witticism and reaction at every stop on this trip.  
Fashion bridges boundaries as easily as architecture becomes art in our New World.  The concept of blurring these boundaries has always been a part of any artist's basic creative flow, but fashion has been fighting it's way onto the art front for decades.  
Let it in......it's art, as well as fashion, given it's context.  

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Time

In the West Village, NYC, every year there is a parade of ghoulish wonder, with giant puppets, spangled characters, floats, and thousands of gawkers lining the parade route.  For years, we all just jumped in whrever, but now it's a bit organized......proceed to Spring and 6th Avenue.  the parade starts at 7, so get ready now!
Handmade is best, but feel free to stop into the shop for a feather accessory, mask, or some hat that will complete your costume.....veiling, tulle, feathers..........add something, as you need to fill in your costume.
We don't have Carnivale.instead we do the Halloween thing.  We don't do The Day of the Dead, we do the Halloween thing. Don't stay at home, come out if only for an hour to experience the dragons in person.  
And, if you've never participated.....this is one of those things you have to do in your lifetime.  come as a girl if you're a boy. Come as a boy if you're a girl......come as objects; come as  people, dead or otherwise........green, pink, blue, hatted or headless: come to the parade tonight!
Here's a hint: this year's theme is "Ghosts!"...........

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Expounding Upon Chanel

Before I get into see the current exhibit in Central Park, research is a requisite.  The Times' Nicolai Ourossoff scoffs at this merging of art, commerce, and fashion as a flatfooted move in these economic straights we're in.  Should art and fashion then hide until the world can afford to indulge once again?
I say nay, Nicolai......these are the times when the world needs distraction, interesting installations, and art by the wagon load.  Let each man judge whether it be to his liking, whether it be good or bad, blue or green.  Busby Berkeley used the dynamic of the Great Depression to create a library of fascinating film, scene after scene filled with distraction.  The costumes and wardrobe flaunted by the Hollywood stars of the 1930's cheered an entire generation through the inanity of the feathers, the satin, the furs. How merciful was that era of flash for the hard hit, and hard bitten folk of the Depression?
Let Mr. Lagerfeld provide us with that distraction, in an artful, architectural mode.  Mode, get it?
Fashion isn't just about consumerism, it's about learning to speak a language of clothing within a context.  The House of Chanel has given us decades of beauty, innovation, and genius.  Let that same wave of contribution sweep over the playing fields of Central Park for the next few weeks and let us languish in it, revel in it, and by all means, appreciate the art form.

Monday, October 13, 2008

L'Opera and Then Some!

     The Metropolitan Opera has restored all of it's crystal chandeliers, thanks to a gift by the Swarovski barons.  The exquisite light fixtures, symbolic of the new life at the Met, are all a-sparkle.  And so the Season begins. The revival of La Giaconda was performed  early in the new season, but if you missed that one, there are lots more to tickle your aria palette. 
Run and see any Zeffirelli production, as the modern versions of all of the favorites are slowly creeping into the repetoire. The two being shown this season are Cavalleria Rusticana, with Pagliaci, and La Traviata.
For a costume fanatic, Zeffirelli designed shows are the optimum.  The difference is extraordinary to my eye. Although the 17th C. italian setting of La Giaconda is ripe for picking, the costumes don't match the extraordinary combinations that Mr. Zeffirelli includes for a rich and rewarding visual.  Opera fans hovering in the wings of the new productions may feel that the lush ambiance subtracts from the onward modern pace of the genre.  But give me La Traviata over a stage littered with illustrated props and psycho-suggestions of crowds.  give me the fabrics, the density, and of course, give me Renee Fleming singing the part, and I am one happy girl.
What can surpass the lace scrim at the opening of Carmen?  What?! 
Headpieces, hats, costumes.......my tendancy may lean to the extreme, but I'm a visual kind of gal.  I want it all.
The redux of La Giaconda fills the stage but not the dresses.  The lace is everywhere, golden and shimmering , like the  Prada skirt everyone wants to own.  Carnival time in Venice is a time for magnificence, not making do, I'm afraid, so the flat silhouettes of the capes, headpieces and skirts left lots to be desired.  And thus the line drawn between a Zeffirelli production and all the rest.
Looking forward to the rest of the season, I'm hoping for hats everywhere.

above: La Giaconda, below, Carmen

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I don't Care if Halloween Comes First..........

We hereby announce the New York very first celebration of St. Catherine's Day!  We, the Milliners of New York City, will band together in raucous marching through the erstwhile millinery district in midtown on November  18.  Yes, it's a date of our own choosing, because the real St. Catherine's Day, November 25th, is too close to Thanksgiving for us, and so we march early. The idea, Paris/French in origin perhaps, is to join together the unmarried ladies of 25, on the 25th day of November, and decorate the statue of St. Catherine, in the hopes it will bring on the chain to your ball......aka, a mate.
We're not traipsing about looking for a statue of St. Catherine to decorate, and so we follow the tradition of donning festive headgear, and celebrate anyway.  And, we're not all 25 years old, either.  The New York tradition will start this year at the Synagogue in the Millinery District: 1025 6th Avenue, up through Bryant Park, towards our goal: the party at Haven. Of course, you must wear a fabulous hat to participate in the walk, and even crueler still: the open bar will only admit you if you're wearing that fabulous hat!
So,, come one, come all, come hats...........don't worry...I'll remind you all.............but get ready!  

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I Gotta Hat!

Meaning, I must have new, exciting, different, outre hat references every single day......for years I've been on a diet, the no-hat diet......except in my own little world, that is.  People think hats are a bit much, and want something as small as physically possible......is that a bobby pin, or a hat?
Hollywood used to be the forerunner of fashion, aptly predicting the trends by establishing them.  If Roz Russell wore a silly fruity number in a shot of "The Women", fruit was happening for Spring.  If feathers were floating from Garbo's hat in Queen Christine, then birds were in trouble indeed that season.  Ah, gone are the days of the Silver Screen impact.......not like days of yore, at any rate.......sure, the Pirate in Johnny Depp's soul will make Holloween happen forever every October 31st, and Marc Jacobs uses the tricorne as a  Fall 08 shape on the runway. Daily life precudes the wearing of hats for some reason, notwithstanding the fedora on Britney, the porkpie on JT, or the fedora on Indiana Jones.  So this year, with hats all over the place in films, on the pages of the glossies (lots of Ellen Christine hats to be seen in those magazines), on Young Hollywood, and now, at your local movieplex in The Duchess, my strict diet is over.  It seems that hats are allowed to be in the common vernacular once more!  Hooray!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Garbo Speaks!

Many moons ago, in the beginning..........
Marlene Wetherell,  while still at Victoria magazine, requested a few pieces for one of their issues.  As per my usual modus operandi, we designed them to spec, since there were parameters involved.  One, it was to be for the blue and white issue, in June.  Second, it needed to be variable, chic, sporty, and romantic.........all in one little hat.
The blue and white one was published, and Polly, my Premiere hates me for that hat even now, since it's a complicated woven structure sitting in a comfortable smallish brim.....cotton ribbon, pale Wedgewood blue, contrasted with the white of an antique linen tablecloth.  Doesn't that sound delightful, as a little hat to throw in your suitcase and carry off to the Polo fields with you?

But......since one hat is never enough for a shoot, I strive to please, and so we designed a few others.......on the way out of the studio, I felt the need for one more twist of fate, and so I grabbed a paprika felt body, threw it on a block, and raced down to the car.......I finished stitching it on the way uptown, in the back of the limo.  For some reason, theatre training does this to us......it makes us infallible and capable of making anything anywhere in a flash.  for a shoot, it's fine....but for a finished product, you can't be that self indulgent.
To bring this all to a neat closure, the hat I designed that day was named the Garbo Fedora, in honor of the magnificent star of the silver screen, Greta Garbo.  It, too , was published, in another issue, and it's the first one the stylist picked up..............ah, life.
Buy your very own on www.ellenchristine.com: packable, supple fur felt with a simple pleated crown and an assymentrical brim. Perfect for the transitional millinery wardrobe.
And remember what my Grandmother said: "Give it a dip, dear!".

Friday, October 3, 2008


What shape of hat can I wear with my face?  That's one of the 10 most frequently asked questions in my shop. I'll get into the rest of them along the way, and you will recognize yourself, or your buddy, in them all. This one is an easy out for me but for some reason, perplexes Jane and John Q. Public.  The little diagrams I've included are on my website, ellenchristine.com, for easy reference.  They're taken from a fast-and-easy How-To book from the 1940's, and so the silhouettes are recognize-able from that era.  The basic geometry is the same, though, and so :
If you have a round face, don't wear a hat that will highlight the circle, but rather something with a bit of a diagonal, to distract, and elongate.  Same goes for those of us over 40 who haven't had face-lifts yet.
For the square, very angular face, add something soft, keeping the angle there again, to cut with a diagonal, and highlight the architecture of your bones.  My grandmother always said "give it a dip", and that's very important  for this shape.  
The triangle, or heart-shaped face loves hats that come lower on the brow, and they can often wear a cloche with that Clara Bow cuteness.
How to find out what shape your face is?  I always say to draw it in the bathroom mirror with a bar of soap.  Easy, fast, but somewhat subjective, unless geometry was one of your favorite subjects.  So, if that's too hard for you, just come into the shop, and we'll play here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The New Yorker Festival

With the New Yorker Festival this weekend, and chill in the air, naked heads can look to Ellen Christine for hats and such to warm the cockles of any intellectual heart.
 Ticketholders can look forward to a generous 20% retail discount from us all weekend, and with the hub of the bub located just down the street, there's no reason not to take advantage of a good thing!
Those with a Citi credit card, or Citibank debit card will receive additional benefits, aka, an additional 5% discount.
Fie upon thee, economy, the New Yorker will feed your soul, stimulate your intellect, and give you a break in the pocketbook so shopping doesn't become a figment of anyone's imagination, lost as an art, asleep at the wheel.
go to: www.festival.newyorker.com/index.cfm for information, tickets, updates, you know the drill................

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Time to Listen

Not to the politicians, I'm not pointing you in that direction........you can indulge in drama and politicking all you want, on your own time.  Here, I want to steer you into fashion drama, and barring that, into fashionability at the very least.
Every year Ellen Christine makes cloches..........and berets, by demand, more than by habit.  I call them hats for virgins, because of their easy wearability, and because people not yet used to wearing hats (!?) can handle both of these shapes .  The beret is the most sought after hat when the weather begins to turn.  We do a soft fabric beret in several styles, and a blocked fur felt beret, very jaunty, and popular this week because of the High Holidays.  
The cloche hits the shelves by August, and the first round is sold out by September.  That means I have to design new ones, so I won't get bored.  The cloche, named after the bell shape it mimics, can be had in a round shape, a flat, Art Deco shape, in fabric...we have original 1920's textiles we make them in every season.....   We add feathers, beads, trim from the Edwardian era, buttons, ribbon, or nothing, as some customer prefer. 
I'm including two of our basic cloches: one a simple entity with a perky rose at the side of the hat, and one with a milliner's felt rose, sculpted from the same felt as the cloche.  Both can be found on the Ellen Christine website, an online catalogue of our classic repetoire and both are within reach economically......(www.ellenchristine.com).  Order yours directly through the website, and get on the cloche wagon.
See, I'm listening!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Surface Magazine and it's Editor

We've made an appearance in the current issue of Surface magazine, with two of our ingenious pieces from the Fall Collection.  The twisted and covered wire tiny Top Hat Skeleton is perched on the left hand page, and on the ever important right hand side is the Wave, from the Architectural /Frank Gehry Group.  Done in fur felt, and wired to assume the position, we mounted it on a circlet to sit on your head, either tilted, or directly. See these pieces on our MySpace page, to order at the Chelsea store.
The delightful Amy Prince, editor at Surface, popped into the shop to have a try-on afternoon, and left with her new Ellen Christine: a one -of -a-kind felt headpiece, named Gehry's Mandala, part of the Architectural Group as well.  (If you're a fan of this blog, you read when the new building Mr. Gehry put up served as the inspiration for all of this collection.  And now it's Fall, and the hats are finding their homes on heads.)
She wore hers to the Marc Jacob's show at Fashion Week, and sent us a photo of herself and friend in her new hat!
Surface is an industrial becoming topical, leaning towards lifestyle, with lots of fashion kind of magazine.  Visually stimulating, and  vastly interesting, it serves up solid interiors in a futuristic mix, with intelligent articles about the design world around us.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sailing to Waterworld

...and in your own back yard!  Who needs Disneyland, when we have Deitch Galleries.......their new installation provides visual as well as tactile inspiration for designers and art buffs alike.  When I look at these constructs, I see Peter Pan, Kevin Costner, the Sub-Mariner..........every merman and pirate fantasy come to life...........it's easy to imagine Johnny Depp mischievously peeking out from behind one of the sails. But that's where my head is at, post-1960's drug culture.
This clever and colorful art has been amiably  brought to my attention by Amy Prince, effervescent and intelligent managing editor at Surface Magazine (please see the current issue for some of our hats).  She's sent me the link, and now you all can benefit from the extended arm of networking, just in case you don't know about it as yet.  
Long Island City, just across the East River from the 35th St. stop on the Water Taxi, used to be a world away from Manhattan.  SilverCup Studios, where we did the American Craft Council campaign eons ago it seems, is out there somewhere, if I'm not mistaken.  Take a quick vacay, and go see this installation, to amuse your friends and dinner partners, spark your imagination, and view Manhattan from a different artistic angle.  
Ship ahoy!
Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea, Deitch Studios, 212-343-7300, www.Deitch.com

Thursday, September 18, 2008

vive La Rentree!

At the end of the summer, and the beginning of the Fall season, the French wisely celebrate the transition with a phrase that means bad things to some and good things to others.  To schoolchildren it means the end of fantastic summer days playing and having fun in the country. To the workaday minion it means back from the vacation sublime, onto normal, working, family and drama.  To those of us in fashion, it means get ready for the retail onslaught, and the shows. Two seasons coincide in the same month in the fashion world: the stores have the new Fall fashions stocked and ready to sell, and the designers present their Spring next year on the catwalk.  No wonder the world at large sees designers as dramatic personalities......at any given moment, we're thinking about a minimum of two seasons at once...very schizoid. The summer is for research, relaxation, and assimilation.  At least for me.  What goes into my head as I travel, read, and observe, comes out of my head in many little ways......hats here, headpieces there, feathers, trim, edges, finishing details...........
La Rentree , an end, and a beginning.........

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fashion Victim

ahh, and a tired one I am indeed...........while everyone has run off to Europe for the shows in London, Milan, and Paris, we get a breather over here in New York City. So of course the mags descend, craving new designs, for issues on next years roster already. And they haven't even begun to clamor for the pieces Galliano hasn't shown yet.......is there no rest for the weary?  
Well, all in fun..........we've just updated the Myspace page with Spring 2009, and some updated press pages.  those of you following the trials and tribulations of  The Cause of the Hat on this blog will recognize several of the images the lovely and able Amelia has uploaded for our viewing pleasure....it's a recap of the Italian Vogue story that Camilla Nickerson did with our pieces in the July issue.....some current August/ September press, and bits from our Bergdorf Goodman kamikaze appearance.  No, they haven't called yet, in case you were wondering.
We're back from another astounding weekend on Governor's Island, sun and frolic for all. It's the perfect venue for our sample sale, and so we will continue with the idea next June.  Keep posted, and if you're one of our regular customers, you'll find out all about it.  If not, we may even advertise it , so keep an eye out........
Off I go to dream up something spectacular for Amanda Harlech's daughter.........

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Don Jose Ramon Reyes

Really too young to be a Don in the Spanish sense, Jose Ramon hails from Santo Domingo, and has been doing very well with his sportswear line.  Happily, we have collaborated before, just last Spring, and we've been honored to be included once again in this Spring 2009 collection.
The pieces in this collection are able and designerly in a wonderful way: JR uses fabrics to combine a mood.......using a gingham check on a heel of a shoe, AND the hat, as well as the garment itself, pulls us back into the days of early Dior combos.  Touches like this are the sign of a passion and a very organized mind.  The dresses are wonderful in this group, and they offer a wider range of client base selections......not just for kids, in other words.  Beautifully crafted, with a perfectionist eye for line, balance, detail, and flow.
I liked it, and I'm not just saying that, kids..........
p.s. the hats looked great!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Mystery at Bergdorf's

Who made those fabulous hats in the Bergdorf Goodman Fall 2008 catalogue?  Ellen Christine Millinery, of course.  No, we haven't yet started to wholesale, but since the stylists who call the shots for these layouts love our hats, they pull from our stock for dressing up the looks.  In this case,  the lovely Marina Burini, a fan from way back, commissioned the pieces for the story.  this is  a case of collaboration:  meetings occur  in advance, with a spread of ideas, and a feel for the story.  We make what the stylist wants, or what they dreamt of, and sometimes it works.  In Marina's hands, it always works. 
 It helps if there's a synchronicity as well. the process is always a pleasure when it works, and then some....look at these gorgeous shots in the Bergdorf catalogue of our draped suede turban, and the magnificent quilted leather Samurai Helmet.  Photography is such a marvelous art, and when the styling is excellent, nothing can go wrong.
Both pieces are available exclusively at Ellen Christine Millinery, and can be ordered in any color that works with your Fall wardrobe.
Oh, and Bergdorf's, we'd working on a collection just for you!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Hit the Deck!

Ah, Manhattan!  We forget we're an island, surrounded by water and waterways, and that those waterways are becoming accessible with transportation.  It's not quite the same as a subway, but think about a Water Taxi the next time you have to go to Brooklyn from Mid-town.  The shape and scope of this city is different  when viewed from the water.  Suddenly, you're passing groups of islands, marinas, kayaks, sailboats.  Although we're in high pressure NYC, and the rivers run right by us, the magic of those waters isn't put into play unless you're actually ON the water.  Yes, the East River, and the Hudson River protect us from the evil spells of our invaders, but when you're on the water, the magic is real.  
I've always chosen a Ferry ride as a mode of choice, often taking extra hours just for the pleasure of the passage.  The movement of the boat on the water, what's behind you, and what's in front of you, create a different funnel of time.  Pre-Chunnel, there I'd be on the bumpy Ferry from England to France.  In France, from Royan to the Medoc, another Ferry.  From Cape May to Delaware, again a Ferry ride.  So relaxing.
All over either river, there are tours for the Waterfalls.....a free ride to Ikea has now joined the pack of busy little boats filling the waterways.  But now, besides just doing a party on one of the many wonderful boats for rental, think about grabbing the taxi, hopping a ferry, or taking a kayak course.  Your point of view will change, and boy is it exhausting getting that many positive ions in one day!
P.S. Don't take your cell phone with you!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Does Anyone Still Wear a Hat???????????

Just stab me to the heart..........in the current, September 2008 Departures Magazine, in the Style Issue, Elisabeth Franck-Dumas asks us this question.  Couldn't she have phrased it in a more positive framework? Couldn't she say that hats are hot, that hats have climbed the long uphill mountain of fashion and are now shrieking from a hilltop?  Couldn't she lead in with a "Wake up and wear a hat!", or "Don't be left out in the fashion tundra....get a hat on your head and fast!"?
Something catchy, upbeat,positive, and demonstrative is what we of the millinery bent need to convince the hatless generations that they need us to be put together, well-dressed, accessorized, done.  
The article is about one of my hat idols, Marie Mercie, long a whimsical creative force in the hat world, and so I thank you, Elisabeth Franck-dumas, for the update on Ms. Mercie's creations. She and Stephen Jones have been the triumphant and inspirational banner for my own insanity.  the world is just getting used to hats again, granted, and so we need to keep up the surreal, irreverent, tongue-in-cheek, as well as the all stops out glamour, so that the normal has it's grounding.  Yes, people are usually going to go for the demure, the normal, the silhouette they feel most comfortable with: brim, crown, flower.......but with the standard bearers marching ever forth with  mile high plumes, branches, dead birds, daffodils, et al, we can keep them coming in to see all of the possibilities...........
Yes, there are those that still wear hats!  Better yet,  there are those who newly wear hats, and those that again wear hats.  And those who wear hats in spite of the rest of the naked heads out there.  We wear hats in glee, and joy, and glamour, in the moment, of the moment, and for the moment.
Join the fray!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Blue is Back!

Always a fave color for Mother's -of- the- Brides, and the late Queen Mum, blue has fallen by the fashion wayside in recent decades.  Turquoise lifts it's head some summers, and slate sneaks in in the fall, but a good strong true blue has been absent, and sorely missed on the clothing racks of  the Marshall's stores across this vast nation.  Blue is a striking color for every skin tone, and like yellow, and green, every skin tone has it's best shade of blue.  Every collection we include a blue hat, whether it be a teal blue, or a baby blue in the Fall felts, or a feathered concoction for cocktails doused in peacock twirls.  And they always sell.
Now I won't have to shout it from the tenttops at Fashion Week, because the Democrats are bringing blue back!  Michelle Obama has been seen in many tones of blue; since the convention started, I've seen her in little else.  No hat, of course, but we'll work on that issue.  Hilary Clinton was in blue.  Bill Clinton sported a blue tie.  Politicians and their supporters have always known that red is a great color for the tv lens, but apparently, some stylist snuck in a blue dress somewhere, and off it went like a shot.  So now the Mothers- of -the- Brides will have dresses next year, and the spangles of the upcoming drag queen season may very well reflect the blue skies, the blue waters, and the true blue prevalent in the Democratic Convention.
I'm all for loading up the window of Ellen Christine with nothing but blue hats just as a showoff gesture.  

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

the New York Times Style Magazine

So appropriate to the moment we live in, the Surreal movement created a daunting body of work to admire, and emulate.  While Elsa Sciaparelli and Salvador Dali were collaborating on torn images on fabric, and Man Ray was building a catalogue of images to die for, other designers in fashion were sticking to same old same old.  The avante-garde has always hacked their way through the rainforests of bourgeois imagery, to forge ahead and deliver us into an art moment redolent with exotic orchids.......or bugs.  Or blood and guts, or giant eyes, or melting clocks.  The idea of surreal permeates every level of artistic creativity (except for that of the young lady recently dropped from the roster on Project Runway), and has helped many a lost student find their direction, and voice, under the guise of "different".  We live in an era of surreal moments, from the 9/11 horrific nightmare, to the daily bombing of villages throughout the world.  All these moments must be viewed by a careful eye, not allowing the harsh reality to invade every pore, but rather, regarded through a mask of perceptive control.  One side of the face protected, we offer this blatant mask/cloche for contemporary societal participation.  We see, and yet, we do not.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

the Wild Blue Yonder

Rosemary Ponzo, one of our gregarious and effervescent customers, zips around to balls and charity events non-stop.  For her night at the Tiffany Ball, she commissioned a blue feathered headpiece to compliment her blue satin gown.  Feathers are like the birds they come from: some are lyrical in their shape and form, and some are basic, fly me there kind of feathers.  Obviously our Ro is a soaring spirit, costume designer that she is, and this pastiche of peacock swords and coq dyed to match was the perfect combination for her personality, the gown, and the event.  Our premiere, Polly, is an artist, and when it comes to feathers, her eye captures a composition, and what results is always a sublime creation.
For many of the younger set, a smaller, flat composition with a bit of french veiling , is the perfect accent to any cocktail ensemble.  Brides love a juxtaposion of blonde, white and ecru feathers on a chapel, or fingertip length veil.  The popularity of the fascinator in England has given rise to feather headpieces, and to the hatinator, which in my language is a cocktail hat.The Victorian and Edwardians used feathers on everything: at a hem, to provide a dustcatcher; in the hair, on a hat, on a fan, on the gowns, on the wraps, cloaks, stoles, jackets.  Everywhere there were feathers.  There's something to be said for the soft down of an ostrich plume brushing up against the neck.  So romantic.  Do it, wear it, go for it.  Listen to Rosemary!

Friday, August 15, 2008

September Glamour

Or, Glamour in September......as you like it. There's a wonderful spread with Nicole Ritchie, styled with the perfect accessories, including one of the fedoras we designed for  the 3.1 Phillip Lim, Fall 2008 Collection. It's actually the same fedora shot in the Elle September 2008 picture, but in an different colorway.  This warm taupe is a perfect foil for Nicole Ritchie's golden skin tones, and frames her face in a seductive, glamorous way.  It does exactly what a hat should do: highlight your best features, and let you shine.  It's an accessory to the ensemble, and to the face in the hat.  
Remember when choosing your fall hat that it should have a bit of panache, and frame your face.  Your eyes should pop, and you should smile when you put it on, radiant in your hat moment.
The beaver felt we used for this series of fedoras lends itself to the textures of fall, adding either a balance to smooth fabrics, or an intriguing combination of surfaces to knits, tweeds, and raised patterns.  Mix and match as you choose, and let not the hat wear you.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hello, New Zealand!

With the hobbits running amuck around the hills and dales of New Zealand, the citizens have banded together to form a new publication, and report on the intelligentsia, the artistic, and the unusual folk that inhabit the rest of the world, as well.  Thus No. the Magazine was born, and gorgeous portraiture and interesting coverage, and intervews have emerged as a result.
This is the second issue, and Ellen Christine is honored to have the ever lovely Debbie Harry gracing the cover in one of our hats. Debbie has been one of our customers since the first week we opened, and so we've been working with her through the years, vicariously as well.  The vicariously happens when Carlos Davis, a New York stylist who uses our pieces in many shoots, gets the assignment and comes in to pull some pieces for the article.  Luckily we know Debbie's style, and head size, so we were able to give our input.  Carlos made his decisions on set, and this fabulous cover is the result of their efforts.  
What a shot!
The photog has set up a myspace page, and the magazine can be seen there, if you can't find it at your local newstand.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

where, oh where???

Ellen Christine Millinery works with dozens of news publications and glossy magazines every year..........sometimes we even get to see the results, but usually, someone calls in and says "I saw something in such-and-such, etc......" and we run all over town to find an issue.  See how exhausted you get just talking about it?
This happened with Elle Magazine, with whom we've been working a lot lately (thank you, Joe Zee) both here in the US, and in Europe.  Lo and behold, we're in the September issue of Elle US, with a few things, one of which is a shot from the runway show we designed with 3.1 Phillip Lim.  Love that!
Since we did soooooo many August and September issues for this Fall season I'm hoping to see us in a few more.  If anyone sees us in anything out there, please give a holler.  Stylists forget, and I can't  follow every one up, so we pop up in the oddest places.  Another thing to know is that photographers sell their stories to other publications, so of course neither the stylist nor we find out about it until someone sees one of our hats or headpieces in it. Ah, the mysteries of the publishing world!
And all for press...............

Saturday, August 9, 2008


In the summertime, on the East Coast, up North, your family went to the shore, or to the mountains , usually to the same resort, town, hotel, or house.....forever.  Some of my girlfriends were Pocono kids, but most of us hung out at the Jersey Shore.  In my house, it meant Atlantic City/Brigantine.  My Mom had friends who frequented AC, and my family had a house in Brigantine, so that was the destination by rote every summer throughout the 1950's and 1960's. My, how things change.  I still love the shore, but the sand gets to me now, so I'm not about lounging on a beach to scope out  guys.  But, give me a boardwalk, and I'm a happy girl. 
The boardwalk in Atlantic City was the most extraordinary place in the 1950's.  Impressive hotels, the common ground of Steel Pier (where you had to see the Diving Horse, or your life wasn't complete), the carriages made of rattan that pushed you up and down the length of the boards.  Mr. Peanut reigned, huge and inviting over the Planter's Peanut stores.  James Salt Water Taffy was best when it was filled AND chocolate covered.  Kohr Bros. soft custard (again chocolate, but with marshmallows now) was the junk food of choice, and rainy days were for playing skeetball.  I still can see the pink ceramic poodle I got for my grandmother with my tickets.  
Atlantic City was the home for musicians, gangsters, and work-a-day vacationers to mingle.  Their kids all built sandcastles on those wide sweeps of beach.  They all went to the Miss America Pageant Parade on the Boardwalk, and to Convention Hall to see the Pageant itself.  they all went to Steel Pier for fudge, or to hear Paul Anka.  Jazz clubs filled with NY elite, and the restaurants overflowed .  
I don't have one single bad sunburnt memory of Atlantic City, and no matter what it has become today, casino back to back, the flavor is there for me and everyone who ever went during those wonderful innocent years.  It remains a mythic draw for many of us from Philadelphia, because we're used to going , and the new slew of slots loving grannies every season keeps it jumping.
Hop on a bus, get in the car, jump on the train and go see if you can piece together some of the past.  Maybe Madmen will shoot a few scenes down there, and we can all drift  for a sec, and relax in time.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Row Your Boat

.....in the early 1900, there existed a reality that we do not know:  men wore hats every day outside (women, too, but that's another blog).  On the day when men officially laid their winterworn felts aside, and donned their Spring suits, they sported a straw hat.  this marvelous occurence was called "Straw Hat Day".  What a gas!  I love that there was actually a special date , and in some cities, the first day a straw hat was to be seen, to switch gears.  In New York City we're used to the catch as catch can weather, so we wear sandals in the dead of winter, and long sleeves in the summer because of air conditioning. Or not.  But the straw hat rule , as the white shoe after Labor Day rule, and the white glove rule, and the matching purse and shoes rule......no longer exists.  I recommend to my clients to do as the Victorian did:  have a darker straw hat be the transitional one for early fall, and early spring as well.  Edged in velvet, or with a bit of leather, suede, or other suggestive fabrics, the straw can carry you until your winter hats come out of the closet.  
On the designated Straw Hat Day, somewhere around May 16, the boater was the touted topper for men.  Used by private schools as their hat of uniform, and by the G-men of the 1920's as a signature hat, the boater has seen it's way through music halls, movies, Chanel, YSL, and the Amish.  A simple shape, made of plaited straw pressed into layers, the boater sits jauntily atop the head, lending an air of respectability to summer seersuckers, linens, two toned shoes, and suede bucks.  Do your homework if you don't know what I'm talking about. 
May it live long and rule!  

Saturday, August 2, 2008


My great great grandmother sat in her rocker with a white cotton rag dipped in vinegar, for her headaches.  A turban?  A headwrap?
Carmen Miranda wore turbans piled high with tropical fruits.  Paul Poiret dressed his models, and his wife, in lush turbans with aigrette plumes stretching high from jewels placed at the front of the forehead, like Indian royalty.  Think of the exotica of  the Ballet Russe, and the intense oriental flavor in their costumes.  Yves St. Laurent wrapped his models heads in turbans and resurrected the look for the decade.
For the uninitiated, a turban is a foreign object, unapproachable, unwearable, and off their radar.  To those of us who rode shotgun in the 1970's and 1980's, when the 1940's look ruled, the turban is a way of life in the summertime.  On the day it's way too hot for a hat, a headwrap is a welcome escape from hair on the neck or forehead.  It extends the hairdo by a few days,until you get to a hairdresser for a blow-out.  It adds a note of insousiance to a simple dress, or flippy skirt and t.  Of course, you should do the red lipstick of your choice to perk up the hausfrau reference, and wear a great pair of shoes, but an Hermes scarf tied just so, and artfully knotted, is just what a girl needs on a hot summer day in the city.