Sunday, December 25, 2011

Hayley in November

One of the delightful things that happened to Ellen Christine in November was the appearance of Hayley Griffiths. She covers stories for a news service, and came to our loft to do a piece on our work. Taking pictures of the showroom, and of the workspace, Hayley was fascinated by the overview she achieved that day. In her blog, she includes pictures of our work-in-progress, and covers the interview side with alacrity.
Questions aside, the interesting thing for me is that every interview we do seems to amaze the interviewer. Maybe I'm just too lost in my world o' hats here, but it seems to me that people know so very little about the process. It's really isn't like going to a supermarket and picking up the ingredients for a pie. Hat making is an intense and often thwarting business . Often, the materials you've just used in your collection are dicontinued, so all the designs must be changed. Even buyers don't really know what we go through as milliners/hatters. Striving for perfection, and often needing to allow the customer to go only half way can be frustrating to say the least. The customer may be a lovely lady from Minsk, or a store who wants to carry your hats, but hasn't a clue as to how to market them. Ah,the joys of a design life. And lifestyle.
And I wouldn't have it any other way.
But more on that another day.

Peachy Deegan, our own Hedda Hopper

Peachy Deegan has a brilliant column online that covers things high and low all over Manhattan. She loves things made in America, and spotlights new restaurants, and the most excellent of choices for your shopping pleasure. All in Manhattan, sourcing for the coolest shoes, the nicest dentist, the most chic, the most hip. Peachy tells us which restaurants are hot, new, or just plain good. In her column, she can cover beauty as delightfully as the latest fundraiser she has just attended.
Be there or be square, basically, since "Whom You Know" lays out the facts of life for those coming to New York, or those of us who live here.
Peachy began working with Ellen Christine on a sultry summer's day, when she happened upon us when we were in Chelsea, in the retail space. That summer, Peachy wore an Ellen Christine hat to the Veuve Clicquot Manhattan Polo Classic, a yearly event on Governor's Island. The girl can wear a hat! Nowadays you may see her in one of her feathered fascinators, which have become part of her public persona . In November, published an update of our story, slanting it towards the "Made in America" point of view. Patriotic, Peachy appreciates a good thing when she sees it, but loves a good thing when it's provenance is local/USA, and never hesitates to cover that fact. It's an honor to be part of the "Movers and Shakers" roster, along with such luminaries as Liz Smith and New York City's Mayor Mike Bloomberg. And it's more than fabulous being the "Official Milliner" of WhomYouKnow. Along with lots of superb purveyors of excellence, our hats have received a warm and friendly welcome chez Peachy.
For Hedda Hopper fans, Peachy may be a throwback, a new and exciting insertion into the world of the web. Hats go great with poise and character, and Peachy is just that personified. As a point of exclamation on a might slip of a girl, her hats are becoming seen around some of the finest establishments in town. Look for her, and look for to be in the know, and on top of the brightest and most beautiful here in town.
Thank you, Whom You Know, for giving us such great coverage,and for looking so resplendant in your plumage!

Photo courtesy of :

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Present 2012: Roberto Alagna

It’s Christmas 2012, it’s NYC, and our Christmas present this year is Roberto Alagna! Faust is once again at The Metropolitan Opera, and Robertino is here for two glorious performances: last night, and next Wednesday, the 28th of December. With his whirlwind press tour for the newest CD “Pasion”, behind him, and a jam-packed (until 2016) schedule ahead, this beloved tenor will have a brief respite from life for a sojourn of one month in New York City. Not that we take care of him here: he’s suffering from a sore throat, and today was in the emergency room for an ankle damage. It must have been that cartwheel in Act I last night!

Last night, Roberto demonstrated his consummate professionalism as he regaled a cheerful Christmas audience in spite of a sore throat, and as we have just learned, an ankle injury. Dancing, and playing the flirt in the part of the young Faust, Roberto demonstrates his acrobatic abilities as well as his winning ways.

This new production, by Des McAnuff places the opera in WWI-WWI-II era, with brilliant costumes by Paul Tazewewll. The excitement in the house is palpable: Roberto is in the house. The Met Opera shop is 4 deep at the counters, as Roberto’s CD “Pasion” flies off the shelves. And Carmen is playing on the big screen, in honor no doubt, of his presence.

Stepping into Faust’s shoes once again (Mr. Alagna was here in 2005 in the previous production, complete with top hat and cane) as a dandy, he brings to the Met stage his buoyant personality, and emotive portrayal of a man gone mad with self-doubt and guilt.

Like a 1920’s melodrama serial, this production begins with a black and white palette. The visage of Faust covers the enormous scrim of the Met stage, and like the Veil of Turin, speaks volumes before one single note of music is played. Robert Brill, set designer, Peter Munford, lighting, and Sean Nieuwenhuis, in charge of video design, collaborated on mood, before all else. The black and white overtones are dissipated in the opening scene as the lugubrious metal framework of the set is awash in fog. Lost souls wander aimlessly across the laboratory setting. Two definitive spiral staircases mark the boundaries between life and death. The elder Faust, in homburg and greatcoat (Wait! Could that be Roberto????) tells us by stance, posture, pose, of his exhaustion. One single red rose brings a spark of hope to the monochrome. Faust, aged, stooped is soon joined onstage by Mephistopheles. Sung by the fantabulous Rene Pape, our favorite devil, Meph is a cartoon icon of a bad boy. From this point onward, the costumes of Mephistopheles and Faust, the Younger, will mirror each other – the dichotomy of the psyche defined in the language of costume.

The rear of the stage is set with a screen that projects the faces of Marguerite, and at times, hope via a floral bower, or despair, as marked by the grey passage of time itself. As the young Faust emerges from the mists of time, the scene shifts onstage to a WWI pastiche: soldiers crowd everywhere, mingling with the bevy of fashionably dressed “camp followers”. Brian Mulligan, baritone par excellence, plays Valentin to the hilt, delivering a “Avant de quitter ses lieux” to a bravo’d, heavy applause. I did say a very enthusiastic crowd.

Mephistopheles uses chicanery, sorcery and cheap thrills to wheedle the wills of men, and bend them to his vision. Where Faust is flirtatious, Roberto gives us all the vigor such a cad could carry. Where Faust is touched by the raw innocence of his “conquest”, Marguerite, Roberto gives a seductive, moving, perfect “ Salut, Demeure chaste et pure”. He carries the entire house with him on a perfect note, heart -stopping and ethereal.

Our Marguerite, Malin Bystrom gives her Jewel Box song with a delighted, girlish enthusiasm. This is Ms. Bystrom’s Met debut, and she has moments that sparkle, like the tiara she gleefully models in the mirror, and yet falls into the arms of Roberto with trepidation.

A pink glow falls on the set, and changes us from severe “chaste et pure” to the warmth of a burgeoning love affair. Roberto does his thing: seduction in progress, by a master of the genre.

Although the Met here announces that “Mr. Alagna is not feeling very well, but he will attempt to finish his performance”, Roberto dives into the swordfight that kills Valentin with brio.

The danse macabre that may indeed translate into Walpurgis (we were missing the usual feminine demonic hovering ballerinas) proceeds the final denouement of Marguerite. The fires of Hell are now poison apple green , and her “pure radiant angels” is a relief from the demonic activity and the loss of Faust’s soul. Marguerite climbs the stairway to heaven, and our once- again aged Faust succumbs.

Throughout this well-directed, very smooth pacing, Rene Pape lords over the world weary reality that is Gounod’s Faust with aplomb. He is witty, slimey/suave and superlative in his white leisure suit. Both he and Roberto man it up in suit after resplendent suit, complete with spats and bon vivant boutonierres. The adept millinery department of the Costume Shop at the Met give us hat after hat, all phenomenons of height and drama, very WWI. The chorus is covered in perfect period ensembles that run the gamut in inspiration from “ Alice Blue Gown” to Irving Berlin.

Well done, and a Merry Christmas indeed!

Faust runs through January 19th

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Travelling Hat

David Widjaja is a friend of mine. He came into my life as a stylist, and he has given Ellen Christine such grand exposure in magazines that are seen all across the country. Literally. For example, this one, CS (chicago) and Angeleno (Los Angeles) are both under the publishing wing of Modern Luxury. There are also issues in Atlanta,Dallas, Miami, Wash.D.C. and New Yodk city, to name a few of the covers. For their 2011 Holiday Wish List, published in November, we bagged the cover of the Chicago issue. Thank you, David!
David is all about color. He makes me work in brights, primary tones,and things outside of my normal comfort realm. This is good. With his eye for luxurious fabrics and exotic sets, David works magic with our hats. Also seen in the pages of internationally acclaimed mags, he styles luxe far and wide, and he loves hats.
When a stylist has a natural affinity for an accessory, they approach their composition from a different point of view. Sometimes it's the photographer who requests our pieces for editorial shoots, and then the stylist works with them to co-create a look. But with David, it's always his idea. I know when I get that phone call that I have to do something in silk. Like a turban. Or colorful like the little "Flying Saucers" we did for this cover. He drapes his models over staircases, wraps them around chairs, poses them on balconies, swimming pools, and keeps that hat on their heads at all costs.
Thank you, David, for your years of bright looks, and demanding ways. May we continue to work together for many ,many years. Here's to the next cover!
P.S. Not all publications that our hats appear in find their way to my doorstep. The editor of this particular magazine sent us two copies, one of CS, and one of Angeleno, in a magnanimous gesture. We thank him. Believe it or not, most times it's one of our friends, colleagues or clients who do the Ellen Christine spotting!

Hats Across the Miles of Internet

Been a long time. Since all the s/s (Spring/Summer to novices) has been there and done that, we're now onto the new S/S 2012. Normally, wayyy before Christmas, designers have done with their new collections for the next year. Resort happens somewhere in there as well, and Fall? Fall is a state of mind until it's time to design the new F/W (did you get it yet?:Fall/Winter), for next year. Yes, it's all pretty confusing, but then again, it's just another cycle. It's why bikinis are in shop windows in January. And Vogue is showing "pre-Spring" in December.
Our seasons are not the same as real seasons. Then again, our entire point of view is skewed towards one reality: design. Design factors into every sense of what material to use; what "theme" pervades; where the muse comes from. To be a designer, or an artist, usually means that everyday bits and pieces get taken care of by someone else. The moment you live in is all important, and the current project is the major focus.
Focus is compartimental in design. Like Bill Clinton, a designer puts it all into proportion: open one door, close another one. It's almost like living in a big house, with each room done in a different color. The pattern of your moment changes with the light and shadows of each room, and you change focus, according to the immediate environment.
If none of this makes sense, feel free to ask about art, or design to the next person you meet. Hopefully, they will have a different take on it all. For one, I tend to get wrapped up in many projects at once, but always looking backwards and forwards. Backwards, because a hat I designed many moons ago shows up on the pages of Vogue months after the shoot has happened. Forwards because vision is perceptive: it carries you forward into the next project with no help from you.
With this blog, I shall attempt to catch you up to now. We have had many wonderful ,breathtaking projects this year,and I hope to finish the recap before it's ended in a few weeks!
Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Above, see The Olsen Twins in two of our hats in the Vogue special issue for December: Best Dressed. It's always a thrill and an honor.

Friday, May 13, 2011

"The Hat" That Ate The Royal Wedding

Isabella Blow wore Phillip Treacy to death. Literally. This was a woman who treated fashion with respect, and yet, nothing wore her. She wore it. She wore Phillip Treacy hats with apblomb, and largely helped to establish him as a fixture in the fashion/hat firmament. It's said that Phillip Treacy designed more than 36 hats for guests at the Royal Wedding. The statements that his designs made reverberate in the fashion world even as they are seen on runways and on the heads of over-the-top celebrities.
This time, for the marriage of Kate Middleton and Prince William, Phillip Treacy outdid himself. This time, it wasn't just the world of glossy magazine layouts that sat up and took notice. This time, because of an interesting twist on a bow on the head of Princess Beatrice, , the entire world took notice.
The headpiece in question, done as an artistic and very creative interpretaion of a bow, was created in the palest of nudes, to accessorize the Princess' very chic Valentino ensemble.
"The Hat" sat forward on the forehead, much like the "dolls' hats" first designed by Elsa Schapiarelli in the 1930's . The cap was trimmed with what some have called "antlers". Treacy is no stranger to antler shapes as headgear: his collaboration with Alexander McQueen, for McQueen's 2006 collection demonstrated this. This was not an antler.
The trim of Princess Beatrice's hat was a monochromatic extension of the cap, largely resembling a bow, the knot of the bow, and the ends of the ribbon looping around and up . Treacy's vision was glorious from a milliner's point of view. How the molded bow was made is his secret, as are all of Treacy's methods. They appear as constructions molded and suspended in air. From his first collection, from his senior graduating project for the Royal College of Art, Treacy has learned how to defy gravity .
Bob Mackie once described a gown he made for Jayne Mansfield as a "hydraulic suspension bridge". Phillip Treacy designs create the same sense of awe and admiration from those of us who design hats.
Consternation, on the other hand, is what most of the world expressed when they saw "The Hat" . "The Hat" has been a hot subject of discussion since Beatrice stepped out of her limousine at the gates of Westminster Abbey
Reaching at least a foot above the Princess' height, "the Hat" cause an instant reaction in the worldwide press. "Overshadowing" most of the day, for some "out of place" for others. "The Hat"gave the public something to fixate upon. Here in the States, Joan Rivers called it an IUD. Some called it " a pretzel. "The Hat" gained an immediate following on Facebook, with thousands of commentaries decrying its originality and assertiveness.
For me, this bit of joyous exhuberance harkened back to the days when Isabella Blow was seen everywhere in her Phillip Treacy hats. Her spirit lives long after her death because of the phantasmgorical headpieces Treacy has produced through the years. Never one to demur to a regime of quiet reserve in her dress, Issy gave us Treacy by day, Treacy by night . Even the tribute that sat upon her coffin was her favorite Treacy hat. Isabella Blow was on all fronts, an innovator. Had she been at the Royal Wedding she most certainly would have applauded the little bow that sat upon Princess Beatrice's head. Certainly not screaming in color, "The Hat" represents the fashion forward direction that Great Britain had always taken. Traditionally, the Brits are a hat loving folk. May they be eccentric to our eyes? May they be silly by our standatds? to some, Great Britain resounds of colonial retribution since for centuries Britannia ruled the waves and it attributes. America was indeed one of those attributes, a colony of misfits that sought refuge on the shores of an exciting new continent.
Well, the excitement has diminished and the conservative fashion scene in the US now rules our shores. So thank God for the excitement generated by anything that Philip Treacy, Vivienne Westwood, or a host of other designers show us with their stimulating collections.
"The Hat " may cause strife in the minds of the more fashion conservative . Indeed it may cause consternation. But the primary rule of the fashion industry is to put something out there that will make people sit up and take notice.
Princess Beatrice has put her Treacy up for auction, to benefit UNICEF. Perhaps that was always the plan, to attract enough attention so that the buzz would reverberate around the world, and help to drive the feeding frenzy. This would be ingenious marketing at it's best. It worked with the ubiquitous floppy brimmed hat worn by Jennifer Lopez many moons ago, and it worked for the girls of Sex in The City. And now the worldwide press is watching every breath "The Hat" takes. Tracking "The Hat" has become a pasttime for some, an income for others.
"The Hat" lives on, but more importantly, the millinery industry may have finally gotten it's golden shot in the arm. You probably won't see "The Hat" walking down Main Street , but it might yet be caught on the High Street. The avant-garde of the fashion world may not feel as negatively as the middle class does. But fashion needs the middle class: they're our shopping public.
No, the ordinary woman may not pick up a over-the-top fascinator to wear to the country club, or to Coney Island. But hat have now captured their share of the popular cultural spotlight. The Headwear industry may now be perhaps experiencing it's long awaited Renaissance. No longer the forgotten child of the accessory world. Hats are finally out of the closet, and are yet on the tip of everyone' s tongue when they talk of the Royal Wedding.
"The Hat" will live on, in the closet of it's next owner. But it's myth will spark a renewed interest in headwear, and forever be a touchstone in fashion history. Hopefully "The Hat" will be won at auction by a museum, where it can be both admired and critiqued for centuries to come.
After all, fashion is, indeed, subjective. and it all started with a bow.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Alex McCord Does Wendy Williams

Alex Mc Cord, or may I say, the charming and lovely Alex McCord came to our showroom this week. Because I'm used to dealing with last minute crazed editors and stylists, I was amazed at the fact that she had prepped this visitation with a DM, and an email, to set the time up.
Here's the gig: an appearance on The Wendy Williams Show for The Royal Wedding post-ceremony commentary on Friday. With Simon . And, of course, clothes-conscious folk that they both are, they prepared ahead of time.
Let me say that again. Ahead of time. For those of you who read me, and/or who are used to the spontaneity of the fab fashion world (I'm being understated here), veeery (sic) little is prepared ahead of time. Oh, sure, Nicoletta Santoro, the saint of prep, or Karl Templer, another one who always calls me in early for their shoots....but normally? The shoot is tomorrow. The television show is in an hour. The photog wants hats. The star wants hats. The producer wants hats. Kill me, I'm not exaggerating. Life is a whirlwind .

So, Alex knows what she'd like to wear, and is hoping we have something in her colorway. Since I'm an avid fan of the show RHONY, and especially of herself and her dapper hub, I know her look. Besides, we've done a shoot together vicariously through my hats. And she's walked in Malan Breton's fashion shows, for which I've had the great pleasure to do hats. So I felt confident in what I'd like to put on her mane of blonde-ness.
But NOTHING prepared me! when they came to this humble, if flavorful establishment,they fill the room with their overall carriage, and personalities. They're incredibly well-paired, as if via central casting. Simon is in an impeccably casual seersucker jacket, which matches the monochromatic golden bronze tones of Alex's heels-but-still-casual ensemble. Blow me away for being a fan, but let me tell you! And I've done some superstars. Jack Nickolson once pinched my butt!
Let's get down to business: the piece I had chosen for her works perfectly. In an instant, I had her hair in a semi-lift, with softness around her chiseled features, and voila! Simon approves. but more importantly, I like it on her, and she likes it , too. Especially for her dress . Oh, la. Can life always be this easy, please? Champagne, and peaches. Love.

Watch for clips of The Wendy Williams Show on her site, unless Simon gets a hold of them first and shares.

Hat's Over!

Or, to those of you who aren't into hats: The subject of hats is just : too much , too many. For lovers, creators, and wearers of hats, it's the old sign from the LoneStar in NYC: "Too Much is Never Enough". We're drooling, we're in hat heaven. We're over the top with glee and childish excitement. Much like a love-starved guy on an internet sex site, hat fans are finally having their day in the sun.
We all have our favorites, and not-so faves, of the Hats at The Royal Wedding. Let me point out which ones Ellen Christine loved, and to underline just why.
It's page after page of hats, hats, and more hats. How to choose the pick of the litter: knock off the boring, conventional, the blase. Are you getting my drift?
Nude reigned, with washes of color a close second, in the choice of ensemble, as well as headgear for the day. Navy substitutes black in many instances, but the occasional black hat snuck into the Abbey. Phantasmagorical, oh, yes indeed. Phillip Treacy? Not to be overlooked as the Head of State in the Hat World , and seen on at least 36 heads , according to the quotes online.

We loved Lady Sophie of Wessex in her Jane Taylor nude "headband". The sweep of straw base, wrapped around a headband base, was particularly well balanced by the trim of flower and feather. Loved the monochromatic tone on tone of her ensemble. So understated, and chic.

Lady Sophie Windsor, in her navy blue, off-kilter Treacy, led the way for the larger proportioned hats of the day. Her chignon finished her look perfectly, and brought Dior, in his "New Look" phase to mind . Yes it's got it's bow, in a space-age sort of way. Yes it's a large brim, in a modern take: balanced, in an unbalanced way.

The ashes of roses worn by Princess Letizia of Spain plays a safe game. this is the hat that most women will understand. It's a simple shape , in natural straw, with again, monochromatic tones. An Edwardian color, this pink, and it's echoed in her hat. Pretty, inoffensive, and practical: she won't be bumping her hat into the Archbishop's face! And you can see over her hat, if you've been seated behind her.

Ah, Mrs. Becks: Victoria Beckham resplendant in her pregnancy. She is wearing one of her lable's trapeeze dresses, clean lines, a hair sexy. Her glow is not in her smile, it's in her hat: Phillip Treacy. They say they worked on this hat until the second beforehand. And it's such a simple little pillbox, with a jaunty trim. Masterful.

We now come to our favorite hat of the day. Yes I said favorite: Princess Beatrice. Her stylized bow has caused incendiary remarks worldwide, but hey, it works! The color, again, the nude, soft tone, and after all ,it's just a simple bow. Read my separate article about this hat all it's significance to some of us. Bea's classic heels and oh-so-elegant Valentino balances the whimsical hat that Mr. Treacy made for her.

The Earl Spencer's Kitty worked the nude vibe as well. Her fascinator, as well as her sisters' choices, very age- appropriate, but punchy enough to stand out in a crowd of benign headgear in this category. The fascinator is a piece for women who can't yet handle a large brimmed knock- the -ball- out- of -the -ball -park kind of hat. The fascinator will help a whole generation come to love and learn the hat lore ahead of them (all puns intended).

The blue you have to love. Not just because it's Malan Breton's color, (we love Malan), but the uplift color, in the USA, is always seen at a wedding. This ensemble, on Tara Palmer-Thomkinson is topped with another mind-boggling Treacy creation. Yes, it has a name, according to the bible by Joan Rivers. But we won't go there. Again, a "cocktail hat", perched, like the hats of the WWII fashions. The vertical lines work with Ms. Palmer-Thomkinson's proportions, and don't turn her into an exclamation point.

Zara Phillips had on one of Treacy's most seen stylistic hats: the wide-brimmed, flower -tucked-under-the-ear idea. Spanish in origin, worn by centuries of Sevillanas, this style has been transformed by M. Treacy into haute couture. Indeed , we have seen a version on the runway. Ms. Phillips hat color choice is black, but with the airiness of the straw that was used, it doesn't read dense.

Jacqui Ainsley is wearing the "little " hat, that does compromise between the fascinator and the brimmed hat. Poised just to the front of the forehead, with the trim at the rear, this hat would work on any age , any coloring, any hairdo.

Princess Maxima of The Netherlands has been overlooked in the fashion press, with no nod to her perfectly draped calot. Her hat is an echo of hats favored by Princess Grace of Monaco, and millions of fashionable women in the 1950's. Another version of this would be the Juliet cap, oft favored by our brides here at Ellen Christine. Draping is an art taught along side construction and drafting in design school, but needs to be executed by a very skillful hand. Madame Gres is a name most known when draping is the subject matter, but Charles James loved it in his gowns, too.

Finally, The Duchess of Kent, chose palest pink, and on a woman of her advanced style, it might not work. But just look at her: resplendant in her (again!) monochrome. This Milady hasn't lost her stylish edge, and wore a small cocktail hat, with perfectly balanced trim.

There you have it. Now can we go on to other subject matter, please??????
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Saturday, April 30, 2011

the View does Ellen Christine

It's been one polluted week for hats. The Royal Wedding had every tv show scrambling for coverage, not just by their camermen, but coverage for the talking heads. Those heads needed hats, and pronto. It was like: "oops, we forgot the hats", and so a mad dash for hats happened all over town (New York City). And, as per usual, in the fashion world, it was all last minute.
One of the shows Ellen Christine Millinery covered was TheView. Barbara Walters' baby, with a revolving panel of 4, this talk show brings topics and opinions to the forefront of livingrooms in America.
For the Royal Wedding Show, the costume designer called in pieces early in the week (that's this week, for those who aren't following), to be seen by the cast, producer, whomever deigns the wardrobe worthy enough for daytime television audiences, and approved. Apparently, the ladies choose their wardrobe a scant moment before the cameras start to roll, so, not only did we not know their headsizes, but we sure didn't know what they would be wearing.
Good thing I know these ladies from years of watching them on programs. Sheri, we had actually done hats for , when her sitcom needed hats for a church episode. The best way out of this would be to send in fascinators: those little darling drops of joy that perch on the head and cause everyone to giggle. Couldn't go wrong with a fascinator, so off they went: a goodly selection.
When they walked out on stage we got our surprise: Goldi Hawn was the guest host today! And she was wearing a black "Kitchen Sink" I had whipped up that morning. It's ditsy enough for her, but chic. They chose the one I had put in the box just perfect for Elizabeth: a peach horsehair "choux", that had just been featured on "The Aisle". There's another version of this little hat in the "Henri Bendel by Ellen Christine" collection, too. If there are any left.
See The View, our episode, here in it's entirety:

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ellen Christine Walks down The Aisle

Ellen Christine joins the ranks of fashion favorites on The Aisle. The trend-making designer leads the millinery field with landmark editorials in Vogue, W Magazine, Elegant Bride, Martha Stewart Weddings. Currently seen on David Tutera’s “My Fair Wedding”, Ellen Christine concocts headpieces for couture runway shows, and private collections for well-known retail venues around the world.

The collaboration with The Aisle stems from her reputation in the world of fashion. David Yassky , co-founder and co-president of The Aisle knows Ellen Christine from his time at WWD. This is to be an accessible collection, using the familiar elements so recognizable in Ellen Christine Millinery. Artful draping, precious handmade flowers, and fanciful featherwork lend an old Hollywood feel to this group. Inspired by contemporary bridal wear, but rooted in the glamour of red carpet close-ups, this collection will add to the look and the feel of brides around the world.

For the thousands of eager members of The Aisle, the sale begins on April 19th. Coming just before Easter, and the imminent Royal Wedding, these headpieces will lend the perfect note to the hat mad, in this season of hat frenzy. Ellen Christine has never before offered headpieces in the wholesale Wedding market, and The Aisle is the perfect venue . There are eight custom designed pieces, offered no where else. And there’s only one week to shop!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Roberto Alagna on Facebook

Sounds silly, right? Isn't everybody on FB? Not at all:
is the official , official, by his sister, his personal press corps, page. The fans, the groupies, the admirers of RA have been waiting for this for a long, long time. Grousing, complaining, wheedling, hoping. And now we have him. All to ourselves, on Facebook. Marinella has put up exclusive shots from his recent productions. Those of you who don't know Roberto Alagna are in for a treat. The golden boy of the lyrique stage who has changed the face and the attitude of opera forever is a superior talent not to be missed. Fans and followers know and love the inflection of his voice, the precise tonality, and the eloquent phraseology. For those of you out there who don't follow opera: come on board. It's not long-hair anymore, exclusive to the rich and richer. The opera world is enlarging it's popular appeal, by including contemporary facelifts to the classics. Architects are among those now designing sets at The Met. Prada, the fashion house of Miuccia, is designing costumes. Peter Gelb is taking his Met by the horns and mounting an entire new "Ring". Come and see! And hear. Wherever you are in the world, go hear an opera, and bathe in the exquisite music that is ours to own and enjoy.
Roberto Alagna has added a scintilla of rockstar to the opera world. He's the face and the voice the world wants most to see and hear. RA has led an entire corps of actor/singer onto the lyrique stage, and opera will thank him for it for generations to come. No more a "stand-and-deliver" operatic performance, geared to the audience of yore; opera is now raw drama, burning passion, glorious joy. The actor/singer of today , with Roberto Alagna at the avant-garde of these new performers, give us a different point of view. Opera is changing, and those of us who have always loved music, are deeply greatful . Even if we are led, kicking and screaming into the future.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Inspiration of The Met Collection: The Divas

One of the most frequently asked questions of a designer is: where do you get your ideas? Most of the people asking are not artistes, but appreciate and marvel at the things designers do.
Part of "The Met Opera Collection: The Divas", that we did for The Met Opera Shop came from the intense performances on that huge, vast, and impressive stage. The voices that we are privileged to hear interpret roles after role each season, as Mr. Gelb forges a new world of opera lend themselves to dramatic inspiration. The new production of "Carmen", with Roberto Alagna, quintessential Don Jose , and the best Carmen in the opera world, Elina Garanca, influenced the design of the Ellen Christine fascinator in blood red, and black. The headpieces drip in the way the gown in the death scene falls from Carmen's body as she lay dying.
Armida, all pinks and poppy red, gave us the idea for the bandeaux we made for the collection: petals, floating with sprigs of ostrich, sit lightly on the head, as lightly as the spells of the sorceress, as sung by the fabulous Renee Fleming.
The crown of the collection, made just for the launch party, is the "Armida". It's a huge picture hat, covered in more than 300 silk blossoms. The flowers are made by Schmalberg here in NYC, who also did the flowers for the set of Armida. We used the same petal formation, and the same shades of pink and red from the costume and set design, for this hat. The surprise is that it was inspired by a photo that Solange Van de Vyvre, from Belgium, shared with us . The Floralies, a world famous event in her home town of Ghent, takes place every 5 years or so. The installations at this show are made completely with plant materials and flowers. Our Armida hat was inspired by a gorgeous shot that Solange sent us.
Inspiration is all around us: see the magic, and art.
Photograph : Sandy Ramirez

Ellen Christine at the Met

The Metropolitan Opera Shop invited us to do our launch of the new collection there yesterday, St. Valentine's Day, for Fashion Week Fall 2011. Because the inspiration of the show revolves around the Met's current productions of Carmen, and Armida, the setting was appropriate. Breathtaking, the Shop sits ensconced just beyond the ticket windows, a glowing draw for the opera lovers of the world. Lit by original fixtures designed for the Met's opening , the inviting space pours out into the foyer, and celebrates the art form with pieces that allow the public to participate in their favorites through music, books, and now, fashion.
Ellen Christine , and The Diva Collection, designed in collaboration with the Met Opera Shop geniuses, will be in residence, affording headpieces that lend a romantic note to every head. Rich reds, taken from the heartbeat of Carmen, dance in a flowered accessory that sparkles with the light of Alagna's "La fleur que tu m'avais jetee". The tonal pinks of Fleming's Armida ride on a bandeaux of silk petals. The Diva herself, the centerpiece of the collection, is scattered with pieces of broken Swarovski crystal, capturing the magic of the Met's Austrian chandeliers.
Be part of this exciting Met Opera Collection: feathers, flowers and light to draw you in and fascinate.
Exclusively for The Metropolitan Opera Shop, Ellen Christine Diva Collection, for Fall 2011, available now, and by special order in the Shop at Lincoln Center.

photo: Sandy Ramirez

Friday, February 4, 2011

Opera, Not Hats

Where may the hats have gone to, you may say.........for me, Ellen Christine, it's all tied into design theory. Like music theory. Like dance theory. Like art theory.
The Metropolitan Opera gives us grandiosity, and thus, inspiration. And for the production of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra, it was all old school. The sets: involved. The costumes: lush. The singing: grandiloquent. And the conducting, ah, the conducting!!!!!superb. It was opera 101 for some, and an indulgence for others, with the sets leaning more towards opulence than modernisme. The velvet, the brocades, the fur, the armor.......ah, what a delight for the costume freak in all of us. Lame done as armour. Armour done as armour. Lord, I love a guy in a skirt. Help me, but I do. When that guy is Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and it's a full-length coat/dress/robe......heaven. Somehow a Russian draped in fur, singing his heart out, is a natural. That's because Dmitri makes it all seem so easy. Except for the first act, when he appeared in a blonde/brown wig, his stage presence is nothing short of noblesse oblige. Not an actor, but a remarkable baritone, he sang the role in an emotive, languid spellbinding manner. No, his enunciation isn't Alagna-esque, but that voice of his carries, and moves the soul of a non-believer.
The berry -reds in the wardrobe echoed the tones of Simon's predicament, and the lamentable situation unfurling in the cold palace. Warm shades of red to match the redolent voices. Furlanetto is deep, rich brocade, if he is a fabric. Maestro Levine carried the orchestra as if the music flowed from his very hands.
The set felt like a Maxfield Parrish print come to life: soft, deep lighting, ably set the stage for those voices, those costumes, that music.
We fell in love with Furlanetto in Don Carlo, and can only weep at his vocal ability. Every duet sung perfectly. The casting included Barbara Frittoli and Ramon Vargas. Whenever any of the cast sang together, it was magic: voices melded and supporting each other. My only problems with some of the singing was in Frittoli's high reaches. Vargas played a noble part, and he wears the armour well. His stage presence lacks the magic of some Met performers, but he holds his own, and stands true as a tenor.
Act II gained applause at the set, and Frittoli reigned supreme in her trill in court. The second act filled in the holes, and provided distance , and gained momentum in the singing. the Met delivers once again!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Les Chaussures de Roberto Alagna

translated, to French, for his European cadre, by Google translate
Ellen Christine: Ok, donc 1 chose: quand a été la 1ère fois vous êtes venu àNy?
Roberto Alagna: Il a été, pour la première fois à New York a été pour le concours Pavarotti ... .. car nous avons fait la première éliminatoire (sic) pour le concours ici en 85 ... ..
Ellen Christine: Je pensais que c'était à Philadelphie, non?
Roberto Alagna: La finale a été à Philadelphie, mais le début était ici, à New York.
Ellen Christine: Donc, vous étiez un bébé.
Roberto Alagna: j'étais un bébé ... je ... à cette époque je ne me souviens pas, il était de 23, ou 22..
Roberto et Ellen: quelque chose comme ça, ouais.
Ellen Christine: A propos de New York et vous: parce que vous avez tellement d'énergie, que je pense que New York est une ville bon pour vous parce qu'il est à égalité avec votre énergie.
Roberto Alagna: I love New York, mais je vais vous donner un secret:
Ellen Christine: Quel secret?
Roberto Alagna: J'ai un secret à New York: parce que je connais un endroit dans Central Park, c'est juste une petite surface, 1 mètre, (en italien) carre mètres. Et dans ce carré, c'est le silence total, et quand je suis plein de musique et tout dans ma tête, j'y vais, et je reste là pendant 1 heure, 2 heures, en regardant le ciel ou regarder les arbres, et tout, et en une heure, je nettoie mon cerveau, totalement propre.Mais I love NY parce que j'aime cette énergie de la ville. En fait, j'aime ces contrastes. Vous pouvez vous sentir beaucoup de contrastes, des contrastes différents à New York. J'aime ça. Et vous pouvez être surpris tout le temps, partout.
Ellen Christine:Chaque coin
Roberto Alagna: Oui, tous les coins ... j'adore ça.
Ellen Christine: Et tes fans français, tes fans espagnols viennent vous voir ... tout le monde vient vous voir à New York.
Roberto Alagna: Parce que le Met est très important. Aujourd'hui, pour moi, c'est le premier théâtre dans le monde. Et j'aime venir ici pourquoi: non seulement parce que vous avez ce public magnifique et ce beau théâtre, mais au même temps vous pouvez retrouver ici votre famille, je veux dire mes musiciens de famille. Vous savez, chanteurs. Parce que quand vous venez ici tout le temps ici vous avez beaucoup de productions dans le même temps, tout le temps.Nous sommes en bas, dans la cantina, et nous rencontrer et parler avec les autres et c'est très agréable de se rencontrer après 2 ou 3 ans ... .. pour revoir au Horovtowsky, et son épouse et les enfants, pour rencontrer Sandra, Simon, tout le monde et j'aime ça, parce que vous vous sentez comme une vraie famille.
Ellen Christine: Donc, vous allez manquer NY quand vous nous quitter pour une année entière?
Roberto Alagna: Tout le temps, toutes les fois ouais, sûr, sûr. NY me manque tout le temps, parce que je suis en amour avec la ville, et j'ai beaucoup de belles souvenirs d'ici. J'ai passé beaucoup de temps avec ma femme, avec ma famille, et ma fille. J'ai beaucoup de belles memoirs.
Ellen Christine: Votre fille etait ici avec vous?
Roberto Alagna: Oh, bien sûr, de nombreuses fois.Je me souviens avec elle quand elle était petite, nous sommes restés ce moment-là dans la maison de l'Essex, Central Park South et quand elle était petite, pour essayer de dormir, je descendis vous le savez, de faire une tournée avec les chevaux,
Ellen et Roberto: (les voitures)
et nous avons fait le tour, et après qu'elle est allée dormir, je l'ai mise sur mon bras, et au lit.
Ellen Christine: Excellente idée!
Ellen Christine: Allez-vous au Canada et à Moscou cet été?
Roberto Alagna: Oui, cet été je serai au Canada, à Toronto, avec un répertoire de très belles et d'une soprano nouvelle. Je ne la connais pas, mais j'aime aussi des surprises dans ma profession aussi, et après que je vais retourner àMoscou. J'ai chanté plusieurs fois là-bas, c'est un public magnifique.
Ellen Christine: Et le reste du temps, vous serez en France?
Roberto Alagna: Je vais être en France, en Espagne, à Vienne, à Londres, en Allemagne, partout.
Ellen Christine: Encore une fois je vais vous demander, de la part de Solange:pourquoi ne pas vous rendre en Belgique?
Roberto Alagna: Non, je suis allé à Bruxelles l'année dernière, et j'ai chanté un beau concert. J'ai chanté Roméo et Juliette en concert, et il était beau, avec un grand succès et tout. Le problème: je ne peux pas aller à Brux et de dire: OK, les gars, je voudrais chanter. Ils doivent m'appeler. Si elles m'invitent, je viens.
Ellen Christine: Votre sœur a de le faire?
Roberto Alagna: Non, non, vous savez, parce que: nous avons une mentalité avec ma sœur. Nous n'avons jamais demander à quelqu'un pour un projet, ou quelque chose comme ça. Tout le temps nous répondre aux demandes.
Ellen Christine: Il me semble que, peu importe le rôle que vous faites, vous êtes toujours en pointe. Dans le temps, a l'epoque, politiquement. D'une certaine manière de gérerà choisir des rôles qui sont si parfaites pour l'époque et et que le temps de l'année, et dans le monde. Comment choisissez-vous vos rôles?
Roberto Alagna: Je dois être en amour avec les roles et avec la musique. Je dois être dans l'amour. Quand je suis amoureux, je viens de profiter tant à rester sur scène pour chanter la musique, tout vient naturellement et parce que j'aime chanter, c'est ma vie.J'ai chanté toute ma vie.
Ellen Christine: Tu aimes à mourir, aussi!
Roberto Alagna: Parce que, je aime mourir parce que je sais quand je mourrai, je sais après je vais à nouveau éveillé. Je n'aime pas mourir pour jamais, mais sur scène, vous le savez, parce que c'est très émouvant. J'adore ça.
Ellen Christine: A propos du film sur Wagner?
Roberto Alagna: C'est un film très étrange, car en fait, je pense que ces gens, je pense que le producteur, n'a pas d'argent. Et tout le temps qu'il m'a appelé pour me faire une autre scène, et une autre scène. Et je ne sais pas ce qui s'est passé. Il m'a demandé de faire en premier, c'était juste une apparition , et après qu'ils ont fait une autre scène, et maintenant un autre. En fait, je ne sais pas, j'ai filmé peut-être une demi-heure du film ... je ne sais pas si ils vont faire quelque chose avec cela, mais ...
Ellen: Nous l'espérons, parce qu'elle était belle
Roberto Alagna: J'espère que non, parce que je ne sais pas si ce sera un bon film.
Ellen Christine: Nous n'avons pas de soins. Nous ne sommes pas des soins aussi longtemps que vous y êtes. Il peut être un bon film, il peut être un mauvais film, mais la pièce que vous étiez en était merveilleux était évocateur.
Roberto Alagna: Vous savez, venir me voir à l'opéra. Il vaut mieux!
Ellen Christine: je fais, je fais tout le temps!Vous avez tous ces fans, je les appelle le cadre de français ... vous savez les francaises: Maraise, et Martine ... tout le monde vient vous voir.
Roberto Alagna: Vous savez qu'ils sont tellement bons. Ils viennent également lors de la tournée. Au cours de la tournée, il ya beaucoup de concerts (concerts petits). Ils sont tous les soirs la. C'est tellement émouvant de voir ça.
Ellen Christine: Nous sommes vos groupies!
Roberto Alagna: Ouais, ouais, mais vous savez,c'est plus que cela aujourd'hui. Je pense qu'aujourd'hui nous sommes de vrais amis. Ils savent que .... C'est bien.
Ellen Christine: Ils seront heureux de savoir parce qu'ils vous aiment et qu'ils aiment votre musique.Je vous remercie
Roberto: merci Ellen

original English transcription at:
with the link to the video
thank you, Michele Peglau for the shot of Roberto backstage

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year!

And what a way to break in the new year, new move, new energy:
Italian Vogue cover, January, 2011.
Thank you Karl Templer, once again, for incredible shots of our hats. Thank you, Italian Vogue, for the cover!
Boaters rule: we're doing tiny ones, medium ones, and oversized ones. Just check out the trailer for the Real Housewives of New York: Alex McCord is wearing our Edwardian fantasy's the big black thing taking up the entire screen, in case you're wondering.
But that's in February. This is January, and we must revel in the moment of our Italian Vogue cover.
Happy New Year, all!
Remember that apointments can be booked now, using our phone (212-242-2457), or email (, for studio fittings, design consultation, and getting all of you hatless ones accessorized!