Sunday, November 22, 2009


Here's a quick little article for those of you who didn't make it this year:

plan for next year! Make your own hat and win the prize, since only non-members can enter.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Culture of Costume

Early fashion plates, and journals promoted the latest, the hottest, and chic-est in garments, so that the middle classes could emulate the aristocracy across Europe. The latest color, silhouette, trimming of ensembles for daytime and nighttime became watered down as each subsequent societal group interpreted fashion. Through the decades that followed this initial blast that became the borgeousie, each group began to identify itself via fabric, shape and designer. In this costume maelstrom of the 17th-18th centuries, the common man has emerged dressed as he chooses, according to his own style and taste.

Today, with the overwhelming freedom of choice in mens’ as well as in womens’ garb, costume can be, and is, often extremely individualistic. Post-hippie vintage merged into haute couture, and slid home with it’s ever popular resuscitation, manipulated bygone eras into iconic combinations that became recognize-able by their decade. The 1970’s revived the 1940’s , and the 1980’s translation of the shoulder has come home to haunt. We’re living in a moment of phoenix-like glory. The 1980’s , so obvious an influence in contemporary fashion has now bled into the dance, and other artistic camps.

The Metropolitan Opera is currently showing, to sellout crowds, the new production of “The Damnation of Faust”. Chock full of intent, the visual content is rampant with dancers, acrobats, costumed singers, and video projections. And that’s in just one scene.

The 1980’s should be culled for specificity, and elements extracted that morph into new interpretation. Any era can provide inspiration, but when we take everything available and throw it against the wall to see what sticks, we’re not designing, or interpreting.

Let the individuals of this new decade ahead take the centuries behind us and extract, or exhume, their favorites icons. The Dandies will live to tie another tie. Hollywood movie stars of the glam eras will drip another foxtail. The flappers of the 1920’s will pull down their cloches on a new era. The Victorians will again tweed us to death, and the embroideries of the Edwardian Arts and Crafts movement will once again be copied somewhere in India. Fashion lives in cycles no doubt, and art follows, but let the art and the fashion be refreshing in it’s newness. It’s the hope we live for.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Great and Glorious Mimi Weddell

I'm sad to announce, via Mimi Weddell's press agent, that the lovely hatted one left us on Sept 24th. Here is her obituary:

WEDDELL, Mimi Rogers took a final bow and removed her hat for the last time on September 24, 2009 following a short illness. The first of four children born to Helen Stevens and Harold Rogers, Mimi made her debut on February 15, 1915 in Williston, ND. After exploring numerous cities, Mimi decided to settle in New York with husband Richard Weddell, an executive with what was then known as RCA Victor.

Exceptionally gracious and world-wise, Mimi was a working mother in an age when mothers did not work, especially mothers living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. In her mid-sixties, upon the passing of her husband, she quit all her “day jobs” and with no children to support Mimi launched what would become an eclectic modeling and acting career. She loved the cameras and the lenses embraced her.

At 90 years old she was declared by New York Magazine as one of the “50 Most Beautiful New Yorkers”. She has appeared in over 25 movies,starting with the cult classic “Dracula’s Last Rites”, to “Hitch” and numerous television series including Sex in the City , Law and Order and practically all of the “soaps.”

Ms. Weddell was featured in Joyce Tenneson’s Book, Wise Women. She also found time to appear Off Broadway and traveled across country to join the casts of regional theatre groups. Mimi, who would never let her age get in the way of a casting call, appeared either on the cover or in editorial spreads in New York Magazine; Italian Vogue; Vogue and, of course, Vanity Fair. She worked with photographers, Richard Avedon,Mario Testino, Peter Lindbergh, Tim Walker, and Martin Hyers to name a few. Her lithe spirit was seen in many commercials and print ads for Juicy Couture, Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Nike ‘Just Do It’ campaign and others.

A few years back, Mimi caught the attention of Producer/Director Jyll Johnstone who decided Mimi’s remarkable life was a story worth telling. The result was the highly acclaimed 2008 documentary “Hats Off.” Mimi at last got top billing and in so doing launched the battle cry heard around the independent film industry: “90 is the New 40.”

Within the “industry,” Mimi was always known for her vast collection and endless array of hats. Her sense of style was legend. Grace Coddington, the Creative Director of Vogue Magazine remarked to Mimi's favorite fashion photographer, Tim Walker that she couldn't have styled Mimi any better than Mimi dresses herself.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fashion Week, NYC 2009 and then some

A deep sigh of exhaustion now exudes from my entire being. We're not quite over, but here's the deal:
during Fashion Week, all of the models are in town, and , the dear editors schedule as many magazine shoots as they possibly can, to take advantage of that very fact. As a matter of fact, everyone is in town: the photogs, the models, the stylists, and every assistant not shipped off to Albuquerque for a shoot. This omni-presence seems to complicate matters. TV shows schedule bits involving fashion, the reality shows jump on board the fashion bandwagon, and yes, even the designers remember we're here and we can make fabulous hats for their collections.
So, a wrap up of just a few salient points from this mad, mad week and a half:
The Mad Fashionista requested hats by Ellen Christine to highlight her wardrobe for her tent presence. Somewhere along the way she upstaged Kathy Griffin, wearing one of our hats, as reported in WWD. Point for our side.
Chic Today got an article out of me for the Gareth Pugh installation at Mac/Milk. We love this designer, and felt right at home, as if it were the 1980's once again, in the middle of a lit cube.
Go read the article.
United Bamboo requested designs for their S/S 2010 collection. Andrew Richardson, a stylist with whom we have worked in the past, called and asked for a meeting. The meeting went well, the hats looked glorious, I was happy , they were happy. Pay attention to the prints in their collection, all designed inhouse by an artist. Very Joan Miro. Great dresses, and a brilliant jumpsuit.
People Magazine is shooting their 35th Anniversary issue. Some of our cocktail hats were called in by Jamie Grace for Iman, and Chanel Iman to wear........we''ll have to see what happens.
The upcoming tv series "Sherri" picked up two hats for an episode shot just this week.....I can say they're large hats, drama hats, great looking hats......beyond that, watch the show when it comes out.
The last project of the week is for "My Fair Wedding", a reality show that is staging a fashion runway show next week. They'll present a specially designed collection of gowns, with Ellen Christine Millinery headpieces. Watch and see for a David Tutera moment.........

Just a peek into our daily adventures.........just a tip of the iceberg......just a blink of the eye. Now, back to my customers.
Wear a hat, and keep me happy.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Spike the Shoe!

Wearing a cobbler’s apron crafted by Hermes, Beth Levine made magic in her studio. Beyond shoes, the Levines (Beth, and her husband, Herbert) transformed American made footwear of the prosaic loafer era into a glamourous panoply of humorous, chic, and innovative pieces that remain iconoclastic even today.

Think of Marilyn Monroe in her Springolators….the name Beth Levine is stamped indelibly onto that image.

A virtuoso of shoe-dom, Beth Levine as the design force behind the Herbert Levine brand, influenced European style with her elegant creations. This glorious technicolor book tracks the Levines from their first post War shoe factory to their last run in 1975. Ad campaigns, publicity shots, pages from Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar fashion editorials lend imaginative background to the myth and the reality of the Levine shoe.

Best of all are the artistically photographed portraits of Beth’s shoes- details captured, nuance explained. Able to make inroads in experimental and futuristic shapes and materials, the Levines’ body of work affords a broad spectrum of design research. Theatre boots, encrusted with stones a la 18th Century; modernistic Kabuki “flats” that give a floating sensation; clear vinyl; heels crafted from curls of leather; pumps covered in peacock feathers: this book is a veritable library of shoe history. Written with appropriate quotes and quips, with a dynamic forward by Harold Koda, of the Metropolitan Museum, this is one of the most important costume books in the field since “Mode in Shoes” first appeared.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Inside June Vogue Magazine

Vogue does a wedding, or rather, a wedding redux! "The Wedding Party", photograhed by Arthur Elgort, and styled by Grace Coddington re-enacts the wedding of model Sasha Pivovarova, to Igor Vishnyakov. With pages full of romantic frocks, and our headpieces, the "maids of honor" prance in a modern fanciful interpretation of a traditional wedding set of bridesmaids.
The inspiration for the Ellen Christine headpieces used came from the 1950's, popular with the mile-high hairdos of the era. The contemporary version lends itself to a casual but elegant anytime occasion, wrapped wire, leafy appliques, and silk flowers, tinted as in nature, to a subtle variation in tone.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


News on Ellen Christine's myspace :

Any day it's not raining, new Hat tales episodes are posted online so come and tchek our myspace to see the new episodes !

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Two French Students in New York

Depuis le début du mois de mai, deux étudiants français en commerce international ont intégré la boutique New Yorkaise, Ellen Christine Millinery.

Denise & Hervé travaillent au développement du marketing dans cet endroit en proie à la créativité de Chelsea.

Peut-être d'ailleur avez-vous déjà pu les apercevoir, coiffés de leurs chapeaux favoris, un gangster fedora pour l'un et une cloche des années 20 pour l'autre, arpentant les rues New Yorkaise avec une grosse boîte à chapeaux.

C'est maintenant après avoir pris leurs marques au sein de l'entreprise en réalisant une opération pour le May Madness du S3 group qu'ils s'attanquent au développement de la griffe au sein de la grosse pomme.

Objectif, ne plus voir une seule tête nue ou qui ne saurait pas où l'on trouve les chapeaux les plus extravagants et sophistiqués de New York.

Vous allez pouvoir retrouver en ligne plus d'épisode de " Hat Tales" et encore bien d'autres projets.

Alors restez bien attentifs, dans un mois ils nous quittent, peut-être nous réservent-ils encore des surprises qui sait ... ?

Translation :

Since the beginning of May, two French students who are studying International Trade in Jean Lurçat in Paris began their internship in the New York boutique, Ellen Christine Millinery.

Denise & Hervé are working on marketing development in this place full of Chelsea creativity. You may already have seen them wearing their favorite hats, a gangster fedora for one and a 1920’s cloche for the other, walking through the streets of New York City with a big hat box.

They have just finished the project for May Madness (S3 group) and now they are ready to attack their plan to further integrate the Ellen Christine label into the Big Apple.

The goal: no more naked heads and letting people know where to find the most extravagant and sophisticated hats of NY

You will find further episodes of “Hat Tales” online and more projects to come.

So pay attention, in one month they are leaving us so who knows what surprises they have in store?

Written by Hervé and Denise

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Calling All Customers!

Dear people who have spent money in my shop? Dear hat-loving folk who have commisserated with me over felt, silk, or sculpted straw?
How shall I address all of the crazy, wonderful, exciting and patient customers that I've had over the years?
How about:
Dear Customers,
(very proper, this one)
It has come to my attention that thousands of you have never written a review about Ellen Christine Millinery on Citysearch.  The powers that be at Citysearch tell us that this is important for others to read, and so I hereby request your aid in this matter.  Please go to this link: and write your little hat-loving hearts out.
Brief, and to the point.  We like it.
By the way, please come in for a visit this month, since we're participating in the S3 May Madness Month.  You'll have a crack at a jim-dandy raffle when you make your purchase.  There are 60 of us, small businesses in NYC all, and we are doing a joint prize- awarding raffle. come in and I'll tell you all about it.
Thank you, and I hope to see you all very soon, again.
Ellen Christine
255 W. 18th St.
NYC, 10011

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Take Back the Easter Parade!

Come one, come all, and join the festivities on Fifth.  Avenue, that is, come Sunday, as the Milliners Guild unites en masse, to reclaim the fashionable airs of Easter Sunday outside of St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Renowned as a promenade for the elite for decades, the Easter Parade has had it's ups and downs. Modern counterparts of  Gilded Age strollers are sometimes a bit  more fluorescent and flamboyant than the chic ladies of yesteryear.  Parade atmosphere has somewhat replaced the ego flaunting of the rich, sporting their Paris fashions and extraordinary chapeaux.
No longer will the Eater Parade remain the tag end of a faded ritual..........this year, both the Milliners Guild of New York and their friends.......AND the Dreamland Orchestra, playing music of the 1920's, will be adding a chic element back into the melee.
Come wearing your best hat, your dapperiest don on your arm, and let us reclaim the fashion of the Avenue, at the Easter Parade.

The Milliners Guild will be found, proudly wearing their banners, near 50th and 5th , from 10 a.m. onward.
Michael Arenella and the Dreamland Orchestra will be somewhere in the vicinity of 54th and 5th, from 12:30-3.

P.S. I'll be wearing a pink hat, in case you're looking.  Come up and introduce yourself!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Get Thee to the Theatre!

Especially, for laughs, both sophomoric, and real, go see "The Toxic Avenger".
Opening April 6th at the New World Stages, at 340 W. 50th Street, this is a comic book-inspired romp through the nonsensical world of the Tromaville hero.  Dipped into a vat of unxious goo, the nerd Melvin Ferd the Third becomes (trumpet fare please) Toxie, the walking vison of New  Jersey waste products.  
The theatre affords an intimate, well planned staging of the hilarious adventures of Toxie and his blind blonde bombshell girlfriend, the odious Mayor, her sidekicks, and Melvin's Mother.  And how do they do it?  How do they (5 actors and a rock band) perform an entire fantasy film/action/superhero sketch? They do it brilliantly:  the sidekicks take on the parts of every known gangsta, ruffian, back-up singers,  and all auxillary roles possible.  The Mayor is playing both herself, and wotta self!, and the Mother, and in one scene has to beat herself up, without missing a beat.  The beat, by the way, is provided by Bon Jovi's own David Bryan, who wrote the songbook and the music.  
I was amazed at the compact possibilities, and the genius execution of it all.  
Bravi, the cast, bravi the producers, and hooray, for this laugh-a-minute escape from our yucky economic woes!
We thank you, and we aim to tell everyone to go see this show!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Naked Heads

today we have an article in the New York Times:

Mr. Blumenthal wrote about even more of my eccentricities..........

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

R.I.P. Mrs. Albrizio

When I started in the millinery business in New York City, my friend, Andrew, sent me to Albrizio Millinery to block my hats.   This was entre into one of the most important hat houses in the city.  They make hats for the Metropolitan Opera, for theatre, for top designers in the business.  The name Albrizio is known in the church lady circles, in the rap world, in fashion because they have their own label, as well as allowing those of us who design hats, to use their facilities.
 At the studio, Marie  reigned supreme, Goddess of the hatblocks, Queen of the feathers, and bulwark to the hat industry in NYC.  Marie and her sister, Ann Albrizio, had started the hat business in the post-war garment industry.  Ann started teaching at FIT and molded future hatters (Kokin, Patricia Underwood, Eric Javits, to name a few) of America with her strict verbose manner.  Between the two of them, they kept the industry afloat through the lean years in the 1960's and 1970's, when hairspray was more important than the hat.
Marie was my point person, since her sister, the legendary Mrs. Albrizio, had retired.  At Albrizio's, Marie let me block one hat or a dozen, sewing my straw braid, and coping with my questions on a weekly basis.  Although Patricia Underwood might have an order in for hundreds of pieces, and Kokin might have the finisher busy for days, Marie always managed to slide one of my hats into the process, and helped me learn the business.
Andrew was close to the sisters, so I was invited for dinner at home.  Marie's grandson, David , was taking over for Marie, who was at home attending to Ann, house-bound, but still receiving guests.  To say the least, the factory/studio and family were one, and the atmosphere was warm, and more encouraging to small designers than any environment in New York City.  The garment center used to be like that: a small business, kept in the family, that embraced newcomers and lent a helping hand to their education by opening the door.
This is what Ann Albrizio leaves behind.....generations of milliners, hat-makers, lovers of hats.  Students who shine in the current fashion world, and those to come, ever thoughtful of Mrs. Albrizio, and all that she gave us.
Last night, March 23rd, Mrs. Albrizio left us.  May that door stay open, and may we all celebrate her life, her work, and her contribution to American fashion.  

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring into Hats

In the Northeast, we're really trying to get into Spring.  the easy dresses are coming out, orders are coming in for Ascot.  Mothers of the Bride are getting nervous about what they may be wearing on their heads.  Easter and Passover are just around the corner.
But it snowed one morning this week, and it's still chilly and than some outside.  Of course I can remember Easter Sunday as it snowed on my new suit and hat, but that was long ago, and not normal.
As a perky measure, getting your Spring hats out of their boxes is a good way to convince yourself that the weather is changing, and brighter colors are on the verge of happening.  Dust off those flowers, get your strappy sandals ready, and prep your transitional wardrobe so you can mix things in , just to add a note of cheerful expectancy to the day.
At Ellen Christine, we follow the Victorian's philosophy: use a darker straw as an in-between hat, and you'll feel lighter in your step and almost frivolous in you mood.  If it's not quite time for those Panamas yet, use a feather trim or a flower on one of your felts, and bear witness to the changing of seasons.  
Work your way into the high season by thinking ahead to what new hat you'd like to add to your wardrobe, and come into the shop and play.  We have to make new ones every week, so the panoply changes, as the temperature rises, albeit ever so slightly.
  Forge into Spring with a new hat, and your spirits will rise to the occasion!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dapper Flapper

Theme parties are the bane of my existence.  Any number of people come into Ellen Christine and ask for a "1920's" headpiece, or an Audrey Hepburn something.  Most contemporary body types wouldn't like themselves as flappers, and couldn't carry off the deer-caught-in-the-headlights innocence that Miss Hepburn projected. To show them a beaded headband, trimmed in a spray of feathers, that we just happen to have on hand is usually a frustrating experience for me as an artist, and my assistants as salespeople.  To wrap your head around a 1920's turban look, or a feathered accessory is difficult unless you're an actress, or an otherwise imagination-infused individual.  Probably a warm up exercise should happen before people go out shopping , into a world they know nothing about, and can't easily grasp without a personal shopper, or a costume consultant.
Flexing the imagination muscle is helpful, so here's my advice:
when you're invited to a party with a theme, or a wedding with a theme, please do some homework first.  Go to the library, a bookstore, or online for some basic description of what you're looking for.  Then look at current fashion and see if anything out there looks like the images you're expected to mimic.  In today's market, fashion reflects vintage mode, so it's usually easy to find a piece that isn't authentic or antique, but does lends itself to the era at hand.
Now you can go shopping.  Ask for help, once you have a vague idea of what you want.  Plan a budget, since beaded dresses can be expensive in any format......and every flapper worth their salt had a bead or two hanging around.  Cocktail dresses and cocktail hats are the norm for a 1950's look.  Sheaths work for a 1920's vignette.  Feathers work with both of these looks, so always consider accessories your ticket to happiness.  You may already own a dress or an outfit that could be perked up with a boa, or a headpiece, and the right jewelry, so check your closet, too.
Take heart, and be brave.  Use those drama muscles and make it happen, and the theme of the party will be how fabulous you look!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

We take celebrities to heart in New York City.  They are our World Bank, our 6 Degrees of Separation from fame and glory, our Muses.  On any given day in a Starbucks, a Barnes and Noble, or just walking around the corner, you may run into Harrison Ford, Sarah Jessica Parker, or Liam Neeson.  There may be a fleet of trailers lining your street, as another scene from a film or a television series is being shot. Your favorite celeb might be out for a walk, or on his way to buy a hat.
These beloved and admired folk come to New York to appear in a Broadway show, to put in a cameo at a Charity event, or they might move here because of the anonimity afforded living amidst these madding crowds.  We cherish our actors.  They are a part of our city, even if they live a bit upstate.
Natasha Richardson and her gorgeoous husband came to live here.  Although I never had the privilege of working with either of them, I did have my Liam moment.  As I was trudging through Soho one afternoon I had to bypass some of those aforementioned movie trailers.  I bypassed smack into Mr. Neeson.  End of contact story, but nevermind...there's always a little flutter when you run into one of your heroes (literally).  When he and Miss Richardson married, the best of two worlds joined and provided us, their fanbase, with the delight of having them on home turf.
And because it's closer to home, we feel the loss that much more.  God bless the family, and Miss Richardson, Godspeed.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Rusalka at The Met

    The magic of the Met happens, and you're not aware of being transported in an out of body experience, but suddenly, the lights come up and you're back.
In the current production of Rusalka, with Renee Fleming reprising her role as the nebulous water nymph, the magic begins at the first rise of that glorious golden curtain.  The set is lit with gloworms and fireflies on the lake......the trees bend their branches to embrace the night sky, and the audience.  A true fairy tale, complete with dryads, water creatures, a bonafide witch, a Prince, of course, and a castle, all revolving around a wishful little lake-dwelling sylph.  Renee Fleming emerges from a tree at lake's edge and sings to the glory of the full moon, pouring out her heart and her heart-felt desires, as delicately and lyrically as a breath on the evening breeze.
Although, as an audience, we know what's coming next in this Czech version of The Little Mermaid, still we are carried by the gracefulness of Miss Fleming, and the fairy dust in the very air.  Her movements are as diaphanous as her gowns, and lend themselves to the poetry of Dvorak's music.  
When all of the elements come together, and a brilliant, sparkling production emerges, the rest of the world disappears.  Truly.  
Treat yourself to the opera  at the Met, whether it be this production, or another.  Walking through those doors, in that majestic theatre, is an experience meant to be savored, and enjoyed.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Yes, We Can Restore That Hat!

What to do when the dog has ran off into the lake with your favorite Montecristi panama hat? How do you deal with a rain-soaked felt Borsalino? After you pull your favorite hat out of that mud puddle, what do you do now?
We get hundreds of calls and emails about restoration, re-sizing, reblocking, and simple R&R for hats, and some of the stories are not to be believed.  Your husband won't give up that ratty misshapen thing on his head that makes him feel like Jimmy Stewart?  Sneak it out of the house, let us give it a brush and steam, change the ribbon, and he'll probably just think he looks extra'll know, but he won't..........
When your daughter wants your Mom's old Easter hat......bring it to me, and we'll resize, and even re-design it to fit her style......
Many are the feathers we've had to steam, re-dye, reposition.........
As much thought and technique goes into restoration in the truest sense as into designing a collection .  The re-furbishing is simple sometimes, and sometimes not,but it's always worth a question, and look-see, and an attempt.  There's nothing like a favorite hat to perk up your mindset......unless it's a new hat.
Get yourself a good brush, and don't use it on the dog. Get a light colored one, and a dark one, for different shades of felt and straw.  When you brush a hat, just as when you brush a garment, you're removing topical dirt that will end up lodged in a crevice, creating muck and ultimately damage.  Start early in the life of the hat, and keep it up.... your hat wardrobe deserves it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Housewives Need Hats, Too

Once in a while something comes along on TV that gets me hooked.  I'll admit it: The Real Housewives of New York City has dug it's talons into me.  I follow the series, I Facebook, I read their blogs.  Maybe because it's New York, and I'm here, too...who knows? My friends aren't like this.......their egos aren't this fragile, their apartments so perfect, their pools so blue.  We are a bit of an alternative group, my friends and I....we dress accordingly to our own whimsical, eccentric poetry of the moment. We don't hang at the Hamptons.......who'd want to? Our husbands don't have lucrative businesses that support our projects.  Well, most of them don't.  
When you get completely immersed in the fashion scene in New York, there are divas everywhere, but would you choose them as your friends?  Just say hello, and carry on. Not necessary to take them into the bosom of your family.
So, the girls are sensitive creatures, easily offended. I had a friend like that.....everything I said was interpreted in a completely subjective manner.  Ouch.  The Housewives do their confronting on camera, since it's a TV show, and make up somewhere along the way.  What happens in between is up to the audience to make up.  Reality TV is only 24/7 if there's a camera in the house.  So,  petty tiffs, and quite a few attitude flinging sessions take flight every week.  What a story line!
Since I've never watched reality TV, I'm not so familiar with the concept, but I read on the blogs that people who watch these shows are intensely involved.  Everything from behavior, to nail polish is criticised, sliced and the public so perfect?  Am I missing something?  What to me is a non-plussed romp through someone's day to day, seems to be a case study for lab students everywhere.
So I watch, and theorize about America, and wonder yet again what train all these people have taken.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hats for Miss Holstein's Collection

Here's the procedure, if you plan, think ahead and act like a Virgo:
all wayyyyy in advance, like in September, or October, for the Fall 09 show line-up.  Bring a visual reference, some ideas, and a colorway.  Plot the first mock-up.  Make an appointment, and keep it, to see the mock-up. 
Approve the mock-up, and place the order, in full.  
Call for pick-up, hopefully, before Christmas.

Guess who operates this way?  Catherine Holstein, that's who! A very professional young lady, with talent on her mind, and vision in her fingertips, who knows what she wants, and how to make it all happen.  Her agent called for the appointment, with a recommendation from Vogue Magazine, and the rest is fashion history now.  Her Fall 09 RTW presentation happened yesterday, Friday the 13th, with nary a black cat in sight.  Called "goth", by some of the press,  the collection put the models in very wear-able and sale-able clothing, with the hats providing the right soupcon of accessory. I love the lapels on her jackets.  I love her jackets.  In keeping with a more sedate color palette, as designers are wont to do for next season, the touches of color provide just the balance needed to make the collection cook.
You can see Catherine Holstein's clothing in Saks, for one, but look for her pieces, and by all means, put in a request for an Ellen Christine hat, just in case the store buyer is making notes!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Fashion Week Chic, 2009

Gird your loins, kids, Loris Diran has launched, his store is open, and his fashion show is getting rave reviews for the collection.
Loris Diran opened a retail store in the Bowery District and presented a beautifully edited runway show at the Altman Building, all in one week.  And we think we're busy.  
Ellen Christine was honored and excited to be included, via headgear, in his Fall 2009 show: to follow his armour inspiration, we created leather "helmets".  For the boys, although, it's an-anybody-can-wear-it piece, we did a really tailored quilted leather sexy hat.  Loris showed it with the lines of the hat in the vertical , but the cold weather treatment of the hat allows for  a flap-wrap, with buttons, to ward off the winter chill. Thanks to our supreme leather handler, David Menkes, the pieces were done in time for the show.  David's the skin genius we've been working with since we did costumes for rock and roll bands in the 1980's.
Fashion always rushes us along, but theatre training helps ease the way to curtain time here at Ellen Christine. The leather hat was done in a beautiful gunmetal grey, black, and a brown, for balance.  The tonality of the accessories was designed to compliment Loris' tone poem of a collection.  The boy works wonders with depth perception, combining chiffons with tweeds with nary a skip in the beat.

For the ladies, Polly Sweet, our premiere, crafted a perfect curl for the model's hairdo.  Loris and his able assistants trekked off to the Metropolitan Museum for a day of inspiration, shooting the armour collection.  From that series of photographs, the angle and direction of the cocktail hat was born. We decided to do it in the same gunmetal grey as the helmet, with the same quilting, to add continuity.  I designed it to sit perfectly on the crest of the brow, with the curl wrapping into the cheek.  Dinishing on a piece like this has to be meticulous so it caresses the model.  My fingers did the walking on that leather piping, shaping and molding the leather into the curve we wanted.

And so a collection is born. 


Saturday, January 31, 2009

Time for the Brides

.ahh, February.......before we dive into Fashion Week, we must make some time for the brides.  They come to the shop in Chelsea from December onwards, hunting and foraging, seeking their perfect headpiece, veil, accessory......or just an idea to spark their imagination.  Ellen Christine Millinery is honored by chic magazines around the globe, with coverage and pictures of some of our creations.  Online, the site ( pulls in brides from an international market. 
Sometimes brides come in with their mothers, in town for the weekend.  Sometimes they come in with their fiances.  More often than not, a friend is the costume consultant for a day, and advises which pieces goes with their idea of the perfect bride.
Taking all of this into consideration is hard work, so here I've laid out some 

Ground Rules for Brides-To-Be:

Know as much as possible about your accessories: jewelry, shoes, bag
Practice hairdos before you shop for the headpiece and veil
Bring in tearsheets of interesting items you've seen and admired
Have a swatch of the gown
Have a picture of the gown, or a sketch
Know your budget
Don't leave the headpiec until the last possible moment

By having done all of the list above, you'll know how you feel about adding beads, or lace, or tulle.  A basic headpiece can be changed by a simple addition of a feather, or jewel, and French veiling, the most popular at the moment, can be added after the headpiece is designed, should you change your mind.  Don't be afraid of trying something dramatic, because this is the day to do it.  Think color, think detache-able, think outside the bridal box.

Then come to Ellen Christine for the headpiece of your life.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ellen At the Opera

Last night my friend, Andrew, took me to see Rigoletto at the Metropolitan Opera, in New York City.  It's Verdi, so it's a rich, baroque libretto.  The set ain't bad, either. The Set and the costume design were done by Zack Brown,  in 1989, and it's not the first time I've seen this production.  With lush gilt details on their jackets, the men look as gorgeous as the females amid the columns of the Duke's palace .  The women sport  golden cages and Renaissance-inspired headpieces( that we may or may not call hats) on their hears, in rich colors that add to the glow on the stage.
Inspiring, and thus do designers dream up their next thing.  
The Georgian baritone, George Gagnidze, made his Met debut last night, so we were honored to hear this incredible voice for the first time.  Aleksandra Kurzak took the role of Gilda in hand, and lent a lyric trill to the shading of her singing that helped to reinforce the innocence of the character. Giuseppe Filianoti was her Duke of Mantua, who gave us "La Donna e Mobile" in his charming way. Since Pavarotti  was the first Duke at the Met,  Mr. Filianoti has a monumental height to climb.
Wandering between the acts, at intermission, we went into the bar on the Parterre lounge, to see the baton given to Wagner by King Ludwig of Bavaria.  (I was really hoping to run into Roberto Alagna, who had been seen in the downstairs lounge earlier).  In another case are Pavlova's dancing slippers.  Everywhere around the Met are archival photos, and memorabilia is artfully displayed in pristine cases.  The gift shop has been newly re-vamped, and is now worthy of the world-class fan base that this center of operatic talent draws.  All it needs are headpieces by Ellen Christine for their shelves, and the selection  of phantasmagoria and music would indeed be complete.  
All said and done, another wonderful evening at the Met.  

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Winter Antiques Show

It's that time of year. If there's snow on the ground in New York City, it must mean the opening of the annual Winter Antiques in it's 55th glorious year, this show is the premier gathering of cognoscenti in the antiques world.  From the world over, purveyors and collectors alike huddle over a rare book, coo into the doors of an even rarer sideboard, and ogle ridiculously rare jewels that date as far back as B.C. 
This is the time to indulge your senses, and wallow in old.  Stroll one afternoon through the aisles of  renowned European houses, and fine American dealers , who have created a city for your perusal.  From January 23rd, until February 1, you too can come and bask in the glow.  Or come to the Opening Night Party, or to the Young Collector's Party, to see the sights while sipping champagne and grazing on gourmet tidbits ....all information can be had by going to and clicking on the Winter Antiques Show button on the left.  This is all to benefit the East Side House Settlement, so it's a wonderful way to start your year off with a charity event, and beauty in abundance, all in one fell swoop.
Come join us!  I'm there on Sunday and Monday, and of course, at the parties...............

photo courtesy of Cora

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hatty Award

...Much to our surprise, we've been included in the twenty recipients of the first Annual Hatty Award.  The award is given by the publishers of Hatlife, known in the trade for it's consistent coverage of the millinery industry.
Thank you!  We continue to make surprising and interesting headwear every day, with five collections per year.  When you come into the shop in Chelsea, you'll see our current, past, and future ideas all living peacefully together.  It's fun to be in this business, happily making cocktail hats one day for a request from Vogue magazine, and summer straws the next, for a shoot that W is doing with some celebrity.  Being included in the recipients marks a definite turn in our direction, as we head into our plans to develop as a wholesale company, with an eye towards the cocktail and bridal markets.  Our brides, often editors and designers themselves, come to us with couture ideas.....we hope to develop these extraordinary pieces we are priveleged to make into a cohesive line.
Wish us luck, and continue to buy hats............
No more naked heads!
Ellen Christine

Friday, January 2, 2009

Friends and Family

Happy New Year, to one and all.  If you were outside in New York on New Year's Eve, I do hope you've thawed out by now!
Open houses all over town, and in the tri-state area, to continue the festivities, and say hello to friends and family.
At Ellen Christine, we're holding our semi-annual Friends and Family come and get it: 50% discount, on anything in the shop.  We can't include custom orders in this, but you're all welcome to come in and get a cocktail hat, a fedora, or a whimsical something to add to your collection. Our holiday season lasts until Three Kings Day, so that's the last day of the F&F.  We already have new ideas on board from the 2009 collection, so if you're thinking spring, straw, or Derby, come in and get something wonderful .
Yes, you can tell your girlfriends, your guy friends, and any relative you still love.
And thank you all for all the fun we've had in 2008 making hats for everyone.  May the hat moments grow more numerous, and may all of your heads be covered in 2009!
Happy New Year!
Ellen Christine