Thursday, December 30, 2010

ellen christine chelsea says "Hello, soho"

Here's our last window, just in time for the new snow. A celebration, a new beginning, with a Snow Queen to inspire and lead us into 2011. Ellen Christine Millinery is now in Soho. We've been there for 25 years, but now we're open to the public, not just to the designers, editors and stylists.
Whew, what a move. Days of boxes, and days of construction, and at some point, we'll be pretty enough for receiving guests again.
At the studio/loft/showroom in West soho, we are already booked through January for brides. Nothing deters the brides, boy. Nothing. And we thank them for their determination and undaunted spirit in search for the perfect headpiece and veil.
May we serve you all, with more fun, less agravation, many good vibes, and tea. Because here, we have a kitchen!
Appointments can be made via internet, or phone. We welcome all .

Thank you for your support, and may it be a year of blessings for us all!

Ellen Christine
99 Van Dam, 4E

Phot by Sandy Ramirez

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ellen Christine Millinery Moves Ahead

New for the New Year:

With all of our collaborative efforts with designers, editors, and special projects with retail establishments , Ellen Christine finds it hard to be in two places at once. As a result of much deliberation, the retail shop in Chelsea will no longer be the place to come and be seen in our hats. Now, all of you who have wanted to see where the magic takes place, can come to the studio! As of December 31st, 2010.

A behind the scenes live experience better than backstage will now be available for our customers who have yet to see how it happens. Editors, stylists, and designers know the studio environment, but we will now be doing custom bridal, and fittings in the West Soho Ellen Christine Studio.

By merely dialing the same phone number and making an appointment, you can come up and see us in the midst of prepping the next collection. As a showroom, we will be available full-time for wholesale buyers, and to our retail customer , but now, the experience will be one-on-one.

We hope you are as excited as we are for the move, and the 2011 Spring Collection. We are nationally available at Henri Bendel, and hope to see you at one of our many appearances at the New York flagship store, on Fifth Avenue.

Call us for consultations, whether they be runway or anyway, and we’ll be happy to work with you as we have done for the last 3 decades. The 16 years at the Chelsea shop helped us bring hats to the forefront of fashion, and we hope to provide you with continued avantgarde millinery design.

Launching our showroom in Tokyo, thanks to the representation of Yagi Tsusho, will help us hat more heads. Henri Bendel awaits the Spring Collection, and through their 12 stores nationwide, cocktail hats and fascinators will rule.

Thank you for being a fan, and we hope to see you soon in Soho.

Ellen Christine Studio

99 Van Dam St.

Loft 4E

NYC, NY. 10013


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Meeting Roberto Alagna

Somehow, in the 1960's, we all became groupies. We'd head backstage like detectives, seeking out our heroes of the rock music world, or the theatre world, or the poets of our young dreams. We'd stake out hotels, lobbies, even sometimes airports (remember the Beatles:::???!!!), to catch a glimpse of a mythic guitar player. Life was good. Backstage was where it was at. No waiting in lines at the front door, to get into a concert; we knew doormen, bouncers, body guards. We got in. It was a life behind the velvet ropes, all through the New York disco years, too. While the b&t hordes (that's bridge and tunnel to those who don't remember) flaunted polyester and gold chains to be admitted to the hallowed grounds of Studio 54, or some other club of reckoning, we tromped past the crush, with a wave to the doorman, and waltzed in. Everywhere. No lemmings we. Never followers, rather we forged ahead of the pack, and found an empty seat on a sagging sofa in the dressing room, and camped out with our heroes. While some were there for sex, others were just there to revel in the glory of the moment, and the glow of someone so talented that magic music emanated from their very souls. Ah, life was sweet.
On Monday night I had a flashback moment. A group of French opera lovers came over to see Don Carlo at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, with their much loved Roberto Alagna singing the star role. Apparently, they go everywhere to see his performances: Monte Carlo, Vienna, anywhere a plane, train, or car will take their Roberto- loving selves. Adorable, really. They're all friends from Facebook , so thank you! technology.
Imagine the Met, fraught all year with new construction, so that everything is in a different place. Finding the Stage Door, and sailing past the waiting fans was different, when in the wake of the French Cadre. They knew where, and how, and almost made it into the vestibule, when the guard couldn't find all their names on the list. My job, at that point, was to use all those years of groupie experience, and make it happen. As the translator (ahem), I informed the guard that they had flown all the way from France, and were friends of Roberto. Definitely not as much resistance as backstage with the Rolling Stones.
Roberto was in the vestibule , just in front of his dressing room, already showered, changed, dressed, and as charming as he could possibly be. The sea of short , frosted hairdos stretched in front of us, as we waited for our turn at the altar of Roberto. He , with Marcel (secretary, bodyguard, personal assistant,manager) by his side, talked to everyone. Signed everything. Posed for any and all pictures....Roberto is a one man pr firm, spreading good will and smiles to all.
Yes, I even got my picture taken with the sainted one.....and as soon as my friend downloads it and sends it to me, I'll get to relive that instant.
Not quite like the 70's, but pretty darn close, I'll tell you.

Poster thanks to my Facebook friend, Solange Van de Vyvere ,who graciously gave me permission to use this latest creation of hers.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Thinking Man's Opera

In the new production of Verdi's Don Carlo, the Metropolitan Opera has given New Yorkers what they love the most: an intellectual production. This current 5 hour long redux, lifted from the Royal Opera House (indeed, done as a co-production) offers the opera- going public something to chew on. With Simon Keenlyside, reprising his astounding Rodrigo, and the darling of the opera world, Roberto Alagna, interpreting Carlo, the musicality of this Italian version is firmly entrenched. Although Roberto Alagna has said that it took Peter Gelb a few years to convince him to do the role, we are so very happy (thank you, Mr. Gelb!) that he finally agreed. Perhaps a bit strenuous on his lyrical tenor voice, the role of Carlo gives Mr. Alagna an opportunity to sing outside of the aria clad formulae of other Verdi scores. The sweeping, poignant orchestration gives bent to the character of the princeling, fueling his destiny and carrying him to the end. The end, of course, wait for it: his dying onstage. Our Roberto does a really, really good death scene. (Carmen, for instance).
The grandeur of the Met's stage is used for immense soaring columns, and an awe inspiring tomb of Charlemagne, but not as well put to use for the poetic opening scene in the forest of Fontainbleu. This is where the girlish Elisabetta (Marina Poplavskaya) falls in love with the dashing and charming Carlo, and should add a bit less of austere to the mood at hand. Okay, so we're put upon from the onset to grasp the designer's intent.
Notwithstanding the rigors of the Inquisition, the time chosen for the historicity portrayed, the sets are not autocratic, but do leave a bit to be desired. What can I say: I'm a Zeffirelli kind of girl. The costumes give us that lush element, with Roberto in boots and pantaloons, and Marina in sweeping gowns that add the breath of color to the characters in play. As Philip II, Ferrucio Furlanetto grabs centerstage in an unprepossessing manner, using his superb bass notes to capture us and prove kingly, indeed. Once Elisabetta is wed to Philip instead of to Carlo, the new royal couple appears in bloodred garb, dipped in the raw essence of their time.
Ah, drama. Gotta love opera. Try and get a ticket. Immerse yourself in this magnificent production at the Met,and revel in the Don Carlo moment. It's history, truly, made flesh.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Time to Start Shopping for a Hat

Spring is designed, and will be available any minute now. Good thing, since Kate and Wills have announced the inevitable, and are now planning for a Spring/Summer wedding. And oh, does Kate love her hats. If you're going to the wedding, MUST HAVE HAT. So start now, or else the Kentucky Derby ladies will knock you out of the park.
Kate Middleton has been seen wearing leather hats, fur hats, felt hats, but the British millinery "industry" has lately reported that 85% of their sales are "fascinators" . See Kate in lots of those little sprightly, feathery things? That's a fascinator. America is catching up, so you can find a fabulous bit of frippery over here in the colonies now. Ellen Christine Millinery introduced them a while ago, and has been concocting high ones, low ones, wide ones, and yes, even occasionally, a flat one, for over a decade. We advise our clients to shop for the hat first, and work your way down to the rest of the wardrobe with hat in hand. The hat will be the primo inspiration for the ensemble, and help you to get a handle on a mood. It will help create the magic of the moment, and make the search for the perfect dress so much easier.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Henri Bendel Christmas

Henri Bendel, at their flagship Fifth Avenue store, has just unveiled their Christmas windows. Seasonal decoration is a big, big deal in New York City, and attracts thousands of tourists year after year, who come to look, open-mouthed, at the gorgeous displays.
This year, George Balanchine's "The Nutcracker" is the theme for the fantasy, and today is the premiere of the windows!
All throughout the store, there are decorations that astound! On the main floor, amid the cosmetics and potions that help make a girl a girl, is our display.
Seated high atop an ostrich is a fair damsel, wearing an Ellen Christine Millinery riding hat. Her twin sits across from her. All in white, in fairy princess mode, and ready to come alive at any moment, the mannequins watch, and ponder the Christmas crowds at Bendel's.
Come and see our girls!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kooky Chic with Ellen Christine

Glamour Magazine's 20th Anniversary Issue is a whopper. Two decades of "Women of the Year" alone would make this a collectible issue, with Julia Roberts, Donatella Versace, and Cher named among the title holders. But it's the December issue, too, so every page reads glossy, colorful, exciting ,fashion. And advice. Glamour has become one of the leading young ladies' advice mags, with tips for man-handling (how to handle that guy), make-up sessions (hot new colors for the face, what else?)and not left behind, fashion.
Ellen Christine Millinery made it onto page 136, in a line-up called: "How to do the New Kooky Chic". Of course we did. A headband we designed just for this issue, in hot, hot pink felt, can be found exclusively in the Chelsea store. One of our favorite editors, Anna Dello Russo, was cited as an example in the spread, so we couldn't be happier.
It's a headband, it's a cocktail hat, it's a memory maker, indeed. come and get it!
And thank you, Glamour, and Conde Nast! We love this issue!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Glamour's Anniversary Issue

We did Elle Magazine, and Ebony, both for their star-studded celeb filled anniversary issues this year! And now, we're in the pages of Glamour Magazine's 20th Anniversary Special Issue. run and buy this one, people.
How it happened: Buki came to us with a story, and asked for a selection of pieces that would work. The operative word was : "kooky". Not far from the center of my universe, that. He came to the shop and we reviewed a colorful selection of possibilities. They all went back with him to the magazine, and got shot. As in shoot. For the story. No guns involved.
They chose one of the headbands! A wild little looping of felt, mounted on wire, and a base...all placed neatly on a comfortable headband for your accessoried pleasure. We did one in black, as well, but the story ran the hot pink. what a wow piece! Light up any outfit, or holiday room with this little showstopper,and you'll start to shop just for the headpiece to go out more.
Here in the Chelsea store, we have variations, covered in rhinestones, too! Sparkle plenty, and love every minute of the spotlight.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ellen Christine at Henri Bendel Fifth Avenue

Henri Bendel is in the midst of it's Friends and Family sale. Now you, fond reader, can take advantage of this, and run up to Fifth Avenue and shop. Just until Sunday. Oh, and on Sunday morning, I'll be there to fit your hats and chat.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

the Big Boys of Opera

Four of the world's favorite operatic talents sat down on Monday to discuss the Met's new production of Don Carlo. The conductor, Yannek Nezet-Seguin, the bass, Ferrucio Furlanetto, the baritone, Simon Keenlyside, and the tenor, Roberto Alagna.
As a diehard Roberto fan, I was there to hear about the production, and to see how Roberto kibitzed in person.
At the outset, Sarah Billinghurst warned the audience that Roberto would be recording "La Navarraise" in the evening, and so would not be speaking so much. Ms. Billinghurst moderated the panel discussion, and we watched, listened, laughed, and enjoyed the scintillating repartee of these four. Each of the gentlemen were asked a question, and they all answered, sometimes all at once. Roberto is a card, and jokes at every given opportunity in a charmingly accented English. Apparently he and Simon have a running joke between them, and it made the conversation sparkle. And Roberto chimed in whenever he could, happy to be part of the bantering, and not at all worried about his voice.
Ms. Billinghurst asked about their preference in language (this new Don Carlo is mounted in Italian, but the original was written in French). Roberto proposes that the French is more romantic, and the Italian more dramatic.
When asked about this performance (he hasn't played the role since he was 32) Roberto mentioned that Peter Gelb wouldn't take no for an answer, that he wanted him to play Don Carlo, and so he learned the score in just two days. That became one of the running jokes. r Gelb practically met him with a piano player at the airport, and installed in NYC just two days ago, he got the part down.
When the questions circled around the different acting requirements of the various roles of this very deep play, the performers all had something to say. Mr. Furlanetto replied that the voice of the character comes from the mental sphere, but the capability of performing their parts comes from the ability to act...
Roberto feels that the characters themselves are all prepared within the orchestration. It's Verdi's composition that clarifies the roles, and with the addition of a clarinet, or a basson, so many layers are revealed.
All four men are deeply intellectual about their craft, and probably, about life itself. Not a chance went by to turn a pretty phrase, or add a bit of psychology to the insight. Simon noted that life is just like art, and the beauty is in the details.
We all have to "find the right color", as Simon says.
Don Carlo will be at the Met through January, and in December, the HD version will be broadcast in theatres around the world.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New York Magazine Credit

When the New York Magazine planned on doing a shot of the women of Almodovar's "Women on the Verge", they called around for "pillbox" hats for the shoot. This is an example of how history happens, hat lovers.
What we call a pillbox, is of course, a real deal, invented eons ago, but made ever so popular by Halston's winning design for Jackie Kennedy when she was Madame Mrs. President. The pillbox, oft seen in Turkish references, and Victorian libraries (men wore them as "smoking" caps, to keep the smell of cigar smoke from their Macassar oil-slicked hair), has now become a word with many meanings. As is the wont of the fashion press, invention is the mother of necessity, and the word becomes the reality as per job requirement. A pillbox to the young set may now seem to be a smallish, head-hugging anything of a cute little hat, with or sans veil. Whether it be the shape that gave it it's name, or the contemporary translation of the concept, little hats have made their mark and their comeback!
Look out world!

Roberto Alagna in the House

Carnegie Hall hosted the Opera Orchestra of New York last night, with a back to back performance of Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana and Massenet's La Navarraise. Celebrated as two of the naturalist/verismo operas, these pieces demand dramatic presentation. With a full orchestra,and the New York Choral Society behind them, the singers gave good drama. Led by Maestro Alberto Veronese, a star roster of operatic talent dealt a strong hand of soaring notes, full-bodied duets. Roberto Alagna sang Turiddu from Cavalleria, and Araquil in the darker Navarraise.
His diva in the Mascagni was Maria Guleghina, well-known in New York from her appearances at the Metropolitan Opera. Joined by Mignon Dunn, Carlos Almaguer and Krysty Swann, the performance was as lyrical as the composer could have wished. The brilliance of the conductor's sweeping control, and the scintillating addition of the Choral created a mood in the house of poetic artistry.
The Massenet, written after the huge success of Cavalleria, stirs the emotions on a different level. At Carnegie Hall, supplemental musicians were placed high above the audience, to infuse a sense of the military background, and it worked. Alagna again joins a stellar group, with Elina Garanca (his Carmen at the Met) singing the title role. Ildar Abdrazakov, handsome and commanding, sang the part of Garrido, the General. The cast was balanced with: Issachah Savage, Brian Kontes, and Michael Anthony McGee.
At the stage door, like good New York groupies, we got no glimpse of Robertino. He had left by the main entrance, leaving us waiting until the next time. Just like a man.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Boutique Week

This is something new for us, since we never have sales. At least not to the public. Boutique Week is the brainchild of two business school graduates, who are helping to raise the visibility of small shops across the country. By hyping a week long event in LA and New York, as well as select other cities, retail should get a much needed shot in the arm. Making it just pre-Halloween puts everyone into a party mood. Making it post-Fashion's Night Out carries along the theme of shopping, enjoying what the season's fashion houses have to offer, and celebrates current trends.
Ellen Christine Millinery was invited to participate, and will be offering a 25% discount on inhouse merchandise. We can't offer the discount for custom orders, or alterations, or online merchandise.
The idea is to get the public (who may not know us and our fabulous headwear)into the store, and let them meet me in person.
On board, everyone! Go to, sign on, get the code, ad come shopping. We've been working to fill in the inventory with sexy cloche hats, fabulous large brims, and fedoras in sizes for men and women. Those of you who know us know we work in beaver and fur felts, and make our hats by hand. These are the hats seen in Vogue, Glamour, W Magazine, Ebony, Elle, Marie Claire, and are all exclusive to our shop.
October 24-30.......a whole week to save.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ebony's Anniversary Issue

Mario Wilson is a stylist that we've worked with for a decade or more. When he got the Ebony Anniversary Issue storyboard, he called Ellen Christine Millinery for hats.
The editors had an idea that would re-create covers from the Ebony archives: Lena Horne, Diana Ross, Dorothy Dandridge among the icons portrayed. Using contemporary, well-loved stars, the covers would commemorate the cultural history that these artists have given the world.
The cover that captured one moment of Lena Horne (she graced quite a few covers) was styled with a huge draped hat, that reminded me of Christian Dior. Mario asked us to do a modern version that would fill the page, work that glorious color, and accent the beauty of Jurnee Smollett, from The Defenders. With the tiny timeframe (not unusual in the fashion world) we had to do the hat, we chose one of our sculptured hats as a design base,and dyed the material to match Miss Horne's hat. Tell us, did it work for you?
For Miss Diana Ross, Lady Day herself, the pose chosen worked a sequinned beret, surrounded by ostrich plumes. We made a beaded beret/cocktail hat, embroidered by hand with crystals, rhinestones (Swarovski), and pearls on a lace base to capture the richness of the moment.
This is definitely an issue to own.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Rude Milliners

Oh, yes, that's me! I just fled from a mindless comment, and she probably thought I was being rude. Believe me, if I had stayed, I'd have been really rude. Sigh. In the holy days of glorious black and white movies, the salesgirls were always polite , unless it was someone like Crystal, in "The Women". She was rude, but then, she was a scripted character, played by Joan Crawford. Joan Crawford was a strong character with or without a script, if we believe the lore of Hollywood gossip.
But here in my little shop, I stand along, with no script, with just my mouth to defend me. Sigh.
If you, the total, hatless stranger, walks in and says: "I hate hats".......what can you really expect me to say??? If you walk in and say" You're probably too expensive"........what can you really expect me to say?????
Or: "Hats look terrible on me".......commmmeeeeee onnnnnnn.
Me, the mouth. Of course I'm going to say something like: So, it's a hat shop, why are you here?
Yes, we are expensive, but we try to accomodate. No, our hats aren't made in the united republic of starving orphans and widows who work for .25 a week. No, we don't glue, paste, varnish, and otherwise turn into plastic, the things some people call hats. No, we don't have enough inventory. Sorry.....Macy's is in the other direction. Loehman's is on 7th Avenue. H&M isn't on this block.
Sometimes I take the time to explain the veritable glories of handmade hats. And sometimes I don't.
Please, hat shoppers, take pity on us. those of us who make our own product beg you to be thoughtful, kind, reflective, and not blurt out the first thing that you think when you walk in. Think first, and then talk.
And let those of us who know our craft handle your hat problems.
Oh, and if I'm insulting you please feel free to banter back. I love a good witty exchange.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hats Need Shoes

If a girl has a new hat, what's the next thing that will spark up an outfit, and perk up her mood? New shoes! It's all investment shopping, of course, with an eye to the practical, and yet fulfills the shopping need. New shoes can change your mood, much as a new hat can, while saying to the world that your style isn't about old, worn, scuffed boots every single day. Of course, if they have a distressed look to the leather, and yet are brand, spanking new, it's the marriage of two worlds. Handmade shoes, meant for walking, in this crazy burg of ours, New York,can be a blessing.
There's a little shop in Nolita: Shoe, that can go down that checklist for you and supply men and women with hot new style on the feet. Pumps, boots, sandals......very, very cool looking shoes.
Trust me, I've been a shoe-aholic since I was a wee tot.

Look for a great walk-through of the store by Lisa Staples on, a portal for you guessed it: local boutiques!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Polo MUST Hats!

Translation: there's a Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in LA on this Sunday, and in keeping with the spirit of the Hollywood heros and heroines who fancied Polo in their heyday, hat wearing is de rigeur. The press push is for 1920's and 1930's, so that the last remaining Polo field in Hollywod resounds with the hooves of the horses, and the cheers of brilliantly clad folk.
For fashion lovers everywhere, the Henri Bendel stores now carry the Henri Bendel Cocktail Hat Collection by Ellen Christine Millinery, well within the mood of the moment. By taking the fast track to the Beverly Center, (, you can own one of these handmade fascinators for stepping out to the Polo fields, and beyond.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Don't Cover that Hat In Meat, Sir

Hopefully, this Walmart shopper isn't considering a male version of Lady Gaga's ignominious flank steak ensemble. His hat is already covered in everything in his collection. And, by the way, Walmart shoppers, this is NOT millinery. To buy a pre-formed hat, to cover a hat, to glue things onto a hat is NOT millinery. To buy existing shapes, and float tiny plastic race horses on it is NOT millinery. And, slapping a steak on your head and calling it a hat is definitely NOT millinery.
Oh, sure, it's something on the head, and by definition, it's a hat. I cringe. I shudder. I suffer the angst of lost glue guns. But millinery it is NOT.
Drape, fold, pleat, stitch, block.......this is millinery. Wired, edged, fringed, feathered, ribboned......this is millinery. Bead, swirl, veil........this is millinery. It's an art form, to most of us. It's an expression of our inner architect. Production designer. Interior decorator. Florist. Event planner. Costume designer. Musician.
Our work takes ingenuity, and technique. It takes patience, and concept. It takes flow and rhythm. It's the sum total of all we learned in art school, design school, graduate school.
All in one little hat.

Photo courtesy of People of (Thank you, Grayson Handy, for the intro to this dubious expression of popular american fashion)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fashion Week spring 2011

Pardon me, I've gotten eaten alive by FNO and Fashion Week, NYC ....
We launched the new Henri Bendel Cocktail Hat Collection by Ellen Christine Millinery on Fashion's Night Out, at the New York City HB Flagship store......with Ellen Christine in attendance. O, wot a nite! But we lived to tell about it!
Malan Breton invited Ellen Christine Millinery to do the hats for his Spring 2011 collections. And we lived through that, too. Life Magazine published an extraordinary shot of one of our Lace Garden Hats, so perfect for Malan's 1930's slinky gown.
AND, we participated in The Milliners Guild S/S 2011 Hat Collection Show, for The Green Shows, at The Metropolitan Pavilion. We lived through that , too.
These were all in the space of 5 days, and for those of you who do not know about NYC lifestyles......rev your engines. It's do, do, and do it again, for days on end. What fun!
I'll write about each individual event at length, so follow our blog, and keep up with the pace.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Roberto Alagna Time!

to get us completely psyched for the 1010-1011 opera season at the Metropolitan, the Met has now begun it's outdoor DVD extravaganza. Easy: get to Lincloln Center, and grab a seat early. Bring a picnic lunch/snack/bottle of champagne, and get set to enjoy another superbly performed opera on the biggest screen you could hope for. The Met has been programming these video recordings of their latest season for a few years now, in cinemas around the country. Last summer, they instigated this glorious festival so we could all enjoy opera under the stars. No, it's not live, but the performers are the stellar line-up we all know and love. Contemporary operas, new productions, and old favorites are among the selection from last season.
Last night, the festival kicked off with Karita Mattila in Tosca. Monday night it's Renee Fleming in Der Rosenkavalier. And HOORAY, on September 6th, Labor Day evening, it will be our beloved Roberto Alagna in the new production of Carmen.
It's not the same as being in the Opera house itself. It's not the same as seeing it at the movies, with the intermission interviews. But it's wonderful. It's huge. And it's the Met!!!
See you up there!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hats off to Queens!

Invited to a huge party at The Astoria World Manor, we found ourselves in the heart of kitschy Queens. I've never seen the Sopranos, or Gossip Girl, or even the American version of Ugly Betty, so I wasn't privvy to the glorious layout of this renowned banquet hall.
I grew up in the 1950's, just a nip and tuck outside of Philly, so hanging chandeliers, dripping plastic fountains, and artificial greens were the mainstay of many a lounge, foyer, restaurant, and banquet hall. It's comforting, in a way, to know that this atmosphere still exists, and we can revel in the tackiness of it all. The Astoria World Manor has endless rooms, hallways, floors, stairs, much crystal it could be in New Jersey. Dripping with chique, it envelops you in a blanket of festivity.
No snobbery here. No superficial insecurities. Just people having a good time. Down the hall from our party was a wedding. I know this because we asked, because it looked like a cross between Mardi Gras and St. Patrick's Day in there.....plastic (gold) fedoras and derbies are apparently now the de rigeur party favor at these affairs. Gold leis adorned the men, and women.
Far be it from me to offer these comments as a criticism. As an anthropological experience, there isn't much better. You gotta love the whole reality show of it.
Our party was a "Reminiscence" for a woman who was an important milliner in her 94 years in the Harlem community: Mother Mays. Her fellow style finders and fans convened in a sparkling room , and celebrated her many facets with a fashion show,( hats by Ellen Christine Millinery), music, dancing, and more food than anyone in there could eat. An endless bar, and cheerful fellowship made the evening speed along. May I note that only one other person had a hat on besides myself, and my friend, Marie. So much for being fans of millinery........what does it take???!!!! It was the perfect place to wear a hat, ladies. Wotup?

By the way, if you should find yourself in the Manor, ask for Patrick as your bartender. The servers are all brilliant, but he will go out of his way to concoct something interesting.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Forbes Gets The Hat Trick

In an article in this month's Forbes Magazine (see online link above), writer Hannah Elliot mentions the wave of hat popularity that is sweeping the nation. Since we gabbed with her for an hour or more, we were happy to see her upbeat piece. AND all the lovely pictures that Forbes ran of our lovely hats, including the now famous Moet Bowler, of course.
Thank you, Hannah! Did I mention that my great grandfather was "Forbes"???? Not one of those, mind you, or at least I don't think so.........

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Panama Hat

As the last fragments of summer waft past our eyes, and the school year becomes more than a far away dream, spring 2011 is on every milliner's mind. We design now for next year, as with all fashion, and fashion presentation, it is done 6 months in advance.
This past season, we all had problems with materials coming out of Ecuador. Because of earthquakes and climate changes, the toquilla palm growth wasn't up to par, and orders for panama hats got backed up. We've just heard of another earthquake in Ecuador, so we're keepingour fingers crossed for the ingenious weavers of Montecristi, and every other village there, where they make our elusive bodies for hats.

Here's to Spring 2011!! May our market expand, and may every head in NYC be wearing a hat!
sigh. a girl can dream, can't she?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Restorative Hat Works

When in doubt about your favorite hat, don't throw it away...ask a friendly milliner if it can be saved.
One of my favorite customers brought back a superb Montecristi extra super fino from South America . These hats are very, very expensive, and finely woven to perfection by craftsmen in one tiny village in Ecuador. When you have one, you prize it. A favorite of the Duke of Windsor, Winston Churchill, and FDR, the Montecristi is as close as you can get to hat heaven for a man.
So my customer was hanging out with his ladyfriend, and her dog decided that his hat was fair game, and a new toy. So off went the dog , bounding and leaping,to the lake, hat in mouth, happy as a clam in a mudhole. Believe it or not, the weave held up, but the hat did need to be reblocked. Worry, worry worry, but no need to fret: we were able to restore the original shape, and give him his hat back, whole, and now with a happy history.
The morale of the story is this: you'd be surprised at what can (and cannot) be restored. In the vintage world I frequently inhabit, hundreds of antique , dusty, moldy, misshapen hats have passed through my hands. Truth be told, this is how I learned to make a proper couture restoring hundreds, literally, of vintage hats to their former glory.
Bring us your hat, and we will tell you yay or nay, but don't throw it out until you know your old standby can be saved!!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

More My Fair Wedding

We don't often get follow-up from our celebrity shoots, but the staff at David Tutera is extra kind, and super efficient: here are two shots from the show currently running in this season's episodes.
The Gatsby Bride, our lovely Kimberly, is shown from the side. The beading on the lace cap is just showing here; the detacheable feather ornament is on her right side, away from the camera.
The bridesmaids wore irridescent peacock feather headpieces in their hair. We designed them so they could sit high, or low.
Watch the episode for more of the fun....she was a very special bride, and more so because she was one of mine.

David Tutera's "My Fair Wedding", on WEtv

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

French Revue

We got the cover of FRENCH!

Thanks to the intriguing styling of Marcell Rocha, and the dead-on photography by:
Thierry Le Goues, both Coco Rocha and Yulia Vasiltosova shine on the day-glo spring covers of this hip French fashion magazine.
It's the new darling of the make-up people in town. It's got new, it's got hip, it reminds me of a gallery stream of images.

Pick it up at a specialty newstand now: #16 printemps/ete 2010.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Vogue Steam Heat

Steven Meisel photographed a story called: "Universal Coverage", to tell a coat story. With coats come hats, at least in my world.....and Ellen Christine Millinery contributed a little navy wool cap to the layout. The setting is a glamorous forest, and indeed looks like a set, it's so magical.
The coats are fantasmajorical combinations of texture and textile, with Sasha Pivovarova modeling in languid poses. Styled by Marie-Amelie Sauve, the story is a wealth of brocades, prints, knits, fur and rich metallics. Gorgeous shoot, and we are so happy to be included in'll want every coat!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

O Hatty Day

The American Cancer Society recommends "2-3 inch brims", to shield your lovely features from harmful UV rays, as a preventative proactive step in protection. We advise our clients to step outside in the sun,and give it a test, granted the sun is shining,and you have an outside they can step into.
Although straw isn't the material of choice for the AMA/ACS, we recommend certain straws because we don't like synthetics. Our hats can be lined upon request, and there are very tightly woven straws on the market that allow breathability, as well as protection, as key elements.
The most important element to us in a hat is that it looks fabulous on the wearer. Every face has a hat, in spite of what the common train of thought may be. Not every store has every shape, proportion, style, color, material, so it's not easy to track that one perfect hat down.
Remember that some faces work best with an "architectural" shape: more squared off, not rounded on the crown.
Hat styles aren't universal, but their lot in life certainly is: to protect us from the elements, and/or to help us look sensational. there are thousands of hats out there, people, so make it a goal: go get a hat today!

Photo courtesy of:

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Milliners Guild of NYC/Bastille Day II

The Milliners Guild

Invites you, your friends and family to

Join our Second Annual

Bastille Day Celebration

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


7:00 PM – Assemble at Bar Suzette Creperie

Chelsea Market

425 west 15th street

Drinks and full menu available

8:00 PM – Highline Promenade millabout

9:00 PM – “Chapeau Formidable” Award

9:15 PM –cocktails on the Terrace

Standard Hotel on the highline

48 Washington at 13th Street


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Veuve Clicquot Hats Off!

Hats and the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic go together like Princes and Polo ponies. The estimated 12,000 plus crowd on Sunday's Governor's Island match between Black Watch (Nacho Figueras et cie) and Black Rock (Prince Harry and co) were extremely happy for their hats in the heat of the day. The temperatures rose, but the breezes held back, so to cover heads, horses, and happy picnickers, umbrellas floated in the Veuve Clicquot yellow along with the tented areas reserved for the very VIPs who came over on their launches and ferries.
Movie stars, celebrities local, international, and hitherto overlooked regaled each other and the hordes of press who came to shoot the wealthy and the fans who cheered on the teams from the newly improved sidelines. The $50,000 tables were full, the $250 picnic tickets were sold out days before the event, and the bleachers were stacked with freebies. Ferries from Manhattan and Brooklyn came and went all the day, with crowds not so used to having a Royal on their very home turf.
The hats made the scene, but by and large, Americans don't yet dare to outdo the Ascot crowds of England's horsey set. We tend to stay safe, so lots of practical, pretty, and sane headgear made it's way to Governor's Island. Yes, off in the crowded tent I did see a Phillip Treacy butterfly hat, and a red satin satellite. Lots of Ellen Christine out there, too, but we haven't beaten them yet. On the hat front, that is. Nacho did beat Prince Harry this year, in a 3 1/2 minute overtime.
The horses kept their sleek haunches in tight formation, as the game kept it's pace with the expectation of the crowd. Dust rose as the riders swung their mallets, and forced the Veuve Clicquot signature ball back and forth across the greensward. At the divot stomping break, the public gamely joined the tradition of milling about and crowing about the Prince, while settling the erstwhile clump back into it's manicured place. Excitement mounted when Prince Harry took a headover tumble, and Black Watch may have suffered because of that fall, even if the young Prince did not.
A day in the sun, with a Prince on an island, surrounded by happy, familiar folk and lots and lots of champagne. Ah, life.
Sentebale was the recipient of this good will, and hopefully the charity, dear to Prince Harry's heart, benefitted enormously from the souvenir sales, the gate, and the publicity.
Champagne flowed, the hoi-polloi mingled with the corporate, and the day was a glorious exercise in American:"See-What-We-Can-Do?!".
Thank you, Veuve Clicquot. I'm already planning my hat for next year!
And thank you, Mario Diab, for making me beautiful all day long.

photo courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

Princes and Polo Ponies

Hats and the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic go together like Princes and Polo ponies. The estimated 12,000 plus crowd on Sunday's Governor's Island match between Black Watch (Nacho Figueras et cie) and Black Rock (Prince Harry and co) were extremely happy for their hats in the heat of the day. The temperatures rose, but the breezes held back, so to cover heads, horses, and happy picnickers, umbrellas floated in the Veuve Clicquot yellow along with the tented areas reserved for the very VIPs who came over on their launches and ferries.
Movie stars, celebrities local, international, and hitherto overlooked regaled each other and the hordes of press who came to shoot the wealthy and the fans who cheered on the teams from the newly improved sidelines. The $50,000 tables were full, the $250 picnic tickets were sold out days before the event, and the bleachers were stacked with freebies. Ferries from Manhattan and Brooklyn came and went all the day, with crowds not so used to having a Royal on their very home turf.
The hats made the scene, but by and large, Americans don't yet dare to outdo the Ascot crowds of England's horsey set. We tend to stay safe, so lots of practical, pretty, and sane headgear made it's way to Governor's Island. Yes, off in the crowded tent I did see a Phillip Treacy butterfly hat, and a red satin satellite. Lots of Ellen Christine out there, too, but we haven't beaten them yet. On the hat front, that is. Nacho did beat Prince Harry this year, in a 3 1/2 minute overtime.
Champagne flowed, the hoi-polloi mingled with the corporate, and the day was a glorious exercise in :"See-What-We-Can-Do?".
Thank you, Veuve Clicquot. I'm already planning my hat for next year!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Last Call for Hat Stack

Well, hello, and here we go.tomorrow is the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic. With the entire world gone mad for the World Cup, sports awareness is at an hormonal high, and all the world is watching. Us, that is, at the VCPC, on Governor's Island. Prince Harry is coming, Prince Seeiso is coming, and a raft (really a VIP Ferry) full of celebrities are sure to drop by.
No stranger to last minute requests, at Ellen Christine Millinery,we are frantically hatting it up until the last possible second this evening. Celebrities? Done! President of Belvedere? Done!
Host Chair Committee? Done!
From the sound of things, hats are flying off shelves all over town, and it will be the definitive hat occasion in New York City Social Circles!
Finally, something for everyone........with much better can this get, o hatted ones?
We start off our very full day tomorrow with an appearance on Weekend Today New York, doing a hat beat, and setting the scene for the event. What to wear? What hat?
Join the fun, come to Governor's Island tomorrow, and for God's sake, wear a fabulous hat!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

My Fair Wedding : New Season

Sunday night, Ellen Christine Millinery shows up on David Tutera's My Fair Wedding at 10 p.m., We TV. That's the's the story:

Out of the blue, we got a call from a producer for the show. We had worked with David Tutera, when we did the headpieces for his runway show last season. so now, the question was, do we want to do a segment on My Fair Weddings?
As any good ham knows, we never turn down an opportunity to be out there, although I'm basically a behind the scenes kind of gal. So the wheels were set in motion, and the adventure began.

The day of the shoot, the crew arrived, set up,moved, moved again, re-arranged, and set up yet again, to have the scene ready. Our gig was to present three options for the Bride in the story, and our Bride wanted fantasy glamour vintage...1920's, to be precise. So we offered them a variety of styles from the era, with modern twists.
Everyone who knows Ellen Christine , know we are the Flapper destination, (see our editorial layouts in Vogue, Sept 2007, and May 2010).
History is our thing.
David arrived, dapper gentleman that he is; Bride arrived, all a-flutter and excited; shooting commenced. And it was in the can after a few hours. There are a few out-takes that should show up on a blooper program somewhere, but I'll be they won't! Something funny always happens on set. Now it's up to you to tell me what you think of the episode....on Monday!
I'll let you all watch the episode to see what we came up with, and what an incredible wedding David produced out of his hat for this couple!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

CBS Does Hat Day

It's hat now or never, sun worshippers! To promote National Hat Day in the Sun, CBS morning show on Tuesday has invited the Milliners Guild of New York and the Headwear Association to the plaza outside the CBS morning tv show, to distribute hats and to show our wacky and wild strength in numbers.
Be there, or be watching and let the television nation know we mean hat business.
7-8 a.m. of course! 59th and 5th Avenue, next to the Apple Store

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Head 'Em Up

Crushed into a corner giving interview after interview is not the worst thing, really. If you're out on a New York Street, surrounded by our little garden at Ellen Christine Millinery, with the sun high, and the temperature just right, it's fun. Just me and my dead bird (the one on my hat), giving forth, expounding upon the glories of hat wearing,and the excitement being generated for the upcoming Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic.
The rooms that comprise the shop and atelier filled with hat lovers, press, and lots of champagne, thanks to Veuve Clicquot. A glass in one hand, and a hat in the other is my idea of heaven!
When lots of different styles surround you, it happens: you want to try things on that your head has never been near in its life. Hats happen, and the ice begins to crack. Ah, Spring! Ah, Summer!
Ah, The Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic! Here we come!

In the photo: unabashed fans: Lisa Weier, from Conde Nast Traveler, Samantha Barnes, from Veuve Clicquot, and Linda Zagaria, long time friend and client
Photo by: Sebastien Moraitis

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Fascinatin' Rhythm

Do it up like Fred and Ginger (for those unfamiliar with that segment of popular culture: Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers), in a whirlwind air of Art Deco. Wear a twist of silk, cultivated with a feather and a mysterious drape of a veil, and you have a headpiece.
The fascinator, or it's younger sister, the Bonbon, holds it's own amongst the broadbrimmed hats of the serious hat aficionadas. Presuming that's all on a female head, of course. The French Bibi, and the Calot, widely known in the 1930's, but left un-named pretty much nowadays by the younger set, fit into the fascinator category as well. Smallish, appropriate at a cocktail party, or the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic, the Bibi can be charming, fetching, and even regal, should it be covered in rhinestones. The Calot, or half-hat, serves a dual purpose: covering the crown of the head for religious and/or Royal Enclosure rules of respect purposes, it can be treated as a headband, and worn much the same way. Often seen on the heads of glamourous movie stars in the 1950's (Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe) at their watering holes of yore, the Calot was a horse of many colors. Draped in fabric to match an ensemble, or a contrasting textile, it could be beaded, feathered, veiled. It could go to a wedding, or on a yacht. Usually flat, and a tad subtle, the Calot was very well behaved.
Get to know some of these little hats, and let them introduce you to their big sisters.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pony Up for Prince Harry

The Prince is coming! The Prince is coming!
Just announced: Harry, Prince of Wales will be playing polo for his charity Sentebale at the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic on June 27th. This will be his second appearance on New York soil, and his second challenge to Nacho Figueras, Captain of the Black Watch Polo Team. Prince Harry led his Sentebale team to victory, adding a more resplendant note to the days festivities.

Now would be the time to choose your hat, with royalty in mind. Go big, go important, go decortive. Be bold, be brave,be ingenious. Choose a hat to boost your ego, to underline your personality. Let color be your inspiration, but stay with a black hat, if you're a timid soul. Feathers and flowers were born to adorn. Let them seduce you, and convince you that your hat can be your crowning glory for the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic, and stand tall amongst the celebrities that day.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

the Making of a Hat du Jour

No, we don't usually do "in-the-box" hats here at Ellen Christine Millinery. But once in a while, when I pull out some of the archival materials, I can't bring myself to cut them up. And so, the normal hats take up residence. We can't reproduce them, but we often have two or three of the same bodies (that's what you call the blank/raw material for making a brimmed hat), so if you miss one, you might get to see another one.
This little lady is a vintage, densely woven toyo, with a pc brim of 4" on it. I say pc because the American Cancer Society recommends a 4" brim for sun protection. We aim to please.
Although the straw starts out soft, with a bit of organic stiffening, it gains body. This particular style requires that format, to retain it's shape, and lady-like appearance.
The flower is a handmade composition made in the studios at Schmalberg, where we make our trims. Leaves, petals, branches, buds......whatever we don't make here, we make there. Now, that's a place to visit when you come to town. Put it on your list, and ask for Warren. He loves to show off his 19th Century machinery.
The flower is made to be removeable, for a wardrobe change. It's up to you.
See our other entries in "Hat du Jour" on :

Monday, May 31, 2010

Redirect that Hat Thought

As an alternative to the large brim, high crown, well known silhouette in a hat is the "fascinator". Just a little bonbon of a hat, the fascinator seduces, flirts, and gives an option but still lends an air of festivity. Whether it be feather, flower or a cloud of tulle, this sidebar is most well known because of SJP. Her red carpet openings cause a stir,with her headpieces. They may be too much for most of the population, but there's a group of imaginative dames out there that can sport them with bravado and ease.
The headpiece category fill the bill for all age groups, from teenagers to stateswomen......a wisp or a wallop, tiny or gigantor, single feather or entire bloom or the entire bouquet....these little darlings are the hottest things on the red carpet, and at all major social scenes.
Perfect for the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic, and any weddings you may have this summer, a bonbon is just enough to tempt the palate,and get you ready for the majors.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Win the Race with the Hat

Races in New York, c. 1908

Why not be one's self? That is the whole secret of a successful
appearance. If one is a greyhound,why try to look like a Pekingese?
Edith Sitwell, 1887-1964

When our Mothers were telling us to choose wisely, I'm sure they weren't talking about hats. But a hat will elevate, captivate, charm, entice and fascinate. The right hat sets off your architecture, framing your face and focuses on your eyes. The right hat makes the outfit, and the occasion.
Pretty as a princess, delicate as a flower, or right on trend, your image in a hat speaks volumes.

Help in choosing the right hat should never come from a girlfriend, unless she's a hat wearer. Underlying cattiness can come out at the worst possible moment,and hat shopping should be fun, and stress free.
Hats are like people: they come in all shapes and sizes. Even the most gorgeous on the wrong face just won't work.

Oval faces have it easy, since they can wear most anything. Long faces, rectangular or triangular, shouldn't opt for tall narrow hats. Round faces need to choose something besides a cloche or a bowler. Oh, and don't let your age get in the way, please. Our underlying bones tell the story, and make the hat work. Women of a certain age may tend to select more sophisticated styles, but individuality always remains the name of the hat game.

Best scenario: girl (or guy) goes into a shop where a vast selection of shapes, colors, and proportions are available to try on. Milliners are best, since we like to make so many different and crazy things. Department stores will stock mostly what's on trend. There's nothing wrong with buying trend, but not for every occasion on your social calendar.

Spread your wings,and experiment!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Kingdom For a Horse

So saith the Bard of England, in Richard III, not speaking of fashion of the turf, of course, but to save his own skin. Ah, Richard, ever the egomaniac.
For fashionables everywhere, whither a horse goeth, so goes high style. Breeders of thoroughbreds, fans of the track, and groupies of Nacho Figueras know that what you wear is as important as the horse that wins the day.
Valerie Steele, in her "Paris Fashion", says, as she spoke of Longchamp (the racetrack) in Paris:

"People were as interested in the contest of fashions as in the contest of horses on the turf."

Anglophiles in France were very interested in what the ladies were wearing to Ascot,and so the parade of fashion became a style competition. Designers sent their best dressed mannequins to the races, to preen before the well-heeled, and to take notes on what their competitors were creating. Clients of said designers planned their ensembles for months, ensuring their individuality, and spectacular turn-out. Hats, of course, were part and parcel of the tout. No one left the house without the proper chapeau: proper to their station, proper to their wardrobe, and proper to the occasion at hand.
Flaunting feathers that make bird-lovers cringe, bedecked in fanfreluches to die for, the ladies of every era made it their job to be fabulous while placing their bets.

Fashion is fun , and hats make it easier. Take it from one who knows.