Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Fabulous Contemporaries: Catherine Baba.

 I have noticed Catherine Baba several years ago. First, I managed to run into her in Paris, I think in 2010 while presenting my Collection at The Box, in one of the little outside cafes Paris is so famous for. I landed myself couple tables away from Catherine and spent the next 30 minutes quietly observing her style. At the time, I did not know who she really was, but I figured she is, probably, a stylist or an editor of some world famous glossy publication. Turns out, I was right! I remember being captivated by how free she really was, wearing impossible white coat , turban and lairs of something magnificent in color underneath her coat.
 Catherine is one of these rare figures of Fashion whose appearance along let's you know she breathes and lives Style. I always find myself drawn to people whose interpretation of style is far from literal confirmation to the trends of the season. Catherine epitomizes what I call " Three Perfect "E"s" - exotic, eclectic, extravagant. She is actually was born in Australia but lives and works in Paris for the last 15 years. It is impossible to guess how old she really is. Every time I open a magazine with the editorial styled by Catherine Baba I know I am up for a treat. No wonder, Catherine has worked for the most respected names in business: Chanel, Balmain, Ungaro, Givenchy...
 A great lover of vintage pieces and a lover of hats, I have read somewhere that Catherine loves to collect vintage Yves Saint Laurent. Catherine to me is  also a perfect example of being fashionably free of any stereotypical behavior we usually see when it comes to stylists with big names. You will never see her arriving at the show in a black shiny car (just like all the rest). Instead, she drives a bike and she completely rocks the ride wearing the highest heels in history of all bike rides. :-)))) Finally, it is safe to say that none has ever made turban (an you know that turban is one of my favorite hats to work with) look THAT good.
 I am leaving you today with the collection of images of Catherine and I hope you will enjoy the selection. In my opinion Catherine Baba is a fabulous contemporary and one of the very few people in Fashion I look forward to seeing the most during Fashion Week In Paris.

Friday, April 26, 2013

My Brilliant Students, Part 5 : Fielden Willmott Millinery, Lexington, Kentucky.

Another week passed by so fast I think I missed Tuesday, the day I usually blog!  April Session with my students came to an end and I had to say "Good by" to another group of very talented future milliners. Always such an emotional moment for me...So, today I would like to introduce to you Fielden Willmott, my former student and now Milliner with in her own right, a proud owner of Fielden Willmott Millinery based in Lexington, Kentucky. When I think of Fielden (which I do often and always with a smile) three things come to mind: extreme dedication, very clear creative vision and talent. Fielden has proved it once and again when Hurricane Irene landed her and another student of mine from Australia (Caz :-), sending you my love) in the Red Cross Shelter due to the mandatory evacuation. Through the entire ordeal Fielden kept working on her fuchsia velour fedora. Seriously, I think now it is safe to assume that those who choose to study with me are a very special kind of people, I call them unstoppable. So far my students worked through a minor Earthquake, Hurricane Irene, Hurricane Sandy, sometimes without heat... still amazes me at times how on Earth was it  possible to complete anything at all!
 It is difficult for me to believe in this short period of time during which Fielden has managed to accomplish more that some of the professionals who work in the business of Millinery for years. Now, Fielden commands magazine covers (like the one on the top picture) and  has her hats featured in glossy editorials. It takes hard work and dedication, passion, love and discipline - qualities which made Fielden what she is today - brilliant. She also happens to be a beautiful girl with a heart of gold. I am very proud and honored to call her my friend. Since studding with me Fielden opened her own Millinery  - Fielden Willmott Millinery, based in Lexington Kentucky.
 Couple month ago Fielden came to visit me in my Atelier to share wonderful news of opening her own Millinery Studio in Lexington. Fielden brought her new creations and I was left in amazement over delicate, gorgeous hats, the quality of craftsmanship and overall aesthetic of each design.
 I have been delighted to be invited to the opening party for  Fielden's Millinery Studio. Congratulations Fielden! I am getting excited just thinking of all the beautiful hats that will be born there . :-)
 This fabulous, plush, chic velvet turban was created by Fielden in my Class. Here you see an image of the design in progress. I remember how hard Fielden worked on making sure that every single pleat creates not only a unique design but also tells a story. Fielden named it "Mystery Of The Hidden Ruby". Ultimately, it was photographed in Spring 2013 Issue of Story Magazine. Not only that, Fielden wore it to the Milliner's Guild's Bonnet Bash at the National Arts Club in New York and won the Most Glamorous Hat Award. Let me just say - Bravo and well deserved! :-)
 I asked Fielden what was her philosophy behind her work. In her own words: "I believe that a hat or headpiece should make its lucky wearer feel special and unique; that it should be a natural extension of their beauty, their proportions, their personality, their dreams. A hat can provide an opportunity to creatively express one’s personality, to try out the feeling of a louder persona, or to tuck in and hide quietly behind the safety of its brim. Hats offer us the gift of adding a bit of magic and drama to enhance our lives, allowing us to create our own story with rich expression."  What a beautiful approach to millinery, don't you think?
Fielden also shared with me her goals. There are many of them, of course because Fielden is a true dreamer in the most wonderful sense of this word. Here is one of her goals:" I absolutely love working as a creative team. My biggest goal right now is to use my Millinery skills to collaborate with other artists to make pieces that are cross-disciplinary and very unique. Currently, I need to fabricate a series of headpieces that haunt my dreams at night. I don’t believe that I will sleep without waking up to a cold sweat and creative frenzy until these pieces have been given life."  Oh, I know how that feels and I have no doubt Fielden will achieve everything she dreams about.
 So, if you find yourself in Lexington, Kentucky please stop by Fielden's Studio. :-) You can find Fielden right HERE. I know you will not be disappointed. As for me, I am looking forward to seeing Fielden sometime very soon and I am looking forward to many more beautiful hats created by Fielden Willmott Millinery.
 All hats featured in this post created by Fielden Willmott Millinery. Photo by Emily Moseley Photography.

Friday, April 19, 2013

My Brilliant Students, Part 4: "Ms. Merry" by Ayuko Hishikawa, Tokyo, Japan.

One of the greatest privileges of being able to teach millinery is the fact that you open doors of you Atelier to extraordinary gifted people who come into your world and make it that much more beautiful. People so passionate about millinery and so dedicated to learning the secrets of the trade, they don't think twice of jumping on the plane and coming to the US to take Advanced Millinery Course with me. This was exactly the case with Ayuko who came to study with me all the way from Tokyo, Japan. Here you see the very first hat Ayuko created in my class (top picture), she named it "Black And White". The process of design of this hat immediately set Ayuko apart from the majority of the class - she made it very obvious that she gravitates towards structure and form in design. 
I have this theory that somehow we carry our approach to design based on our DNA and place of birth. I feel it in my own work and I could, certainly, feel it in Ayuko's designs: her designs have a strong flare of  her home country - Japan. I could see it in the way she handled the material folding it almost origami style ("Black And White" Hat) , the way she would position pearl sprays and feathers and, of course, I could see it in the choices of colors .What impressed me the most is Ayuko's ability to design a composition which would consist of gazillion little colorful parts. This approach demands a lot of patience, especially if the design includes work with "preserved flowers" - extraordinary technique from Japan, excruciatingly tedious, something I am well familiar with therefore can easily appreciate the effort and the final beauty of the design.This beautiful hat Ayuko decided to name "Butterfly", also includes preserved flowers.
The "Queen" hat designed by Ayuko is also created out of preserved flowers. This hat Ayuko created to express the strength and beauty of a woman. Remarkable that every single flower on this head piece is  a natural flower not made of silk or any other fabric and, yet, because of the precious technique of flower preservation this hat will live a life time. One of my most favorite hats by Ayuko.
Here is a "Flower Crown" by Ayuko - also made out of preserved flowers, the amount of work on this piece is staggering given the small tiny flowers Ayuko chose to incorporate in her design. Ayuko told me that she often draws inspiration from nature itself and with this piece she wanted to express the feeling of blooming happiness. I think she has done an amazing job! 
Also, one of my favorites by Ayuko is this beautiful piece she named "Rabbit" with "love me hug me" text on it. So playful and so rich in color and detail, made me smile!!! :-)))))
"Sweet Wedding" hat was created by Ayuko all by hand and included work with preserved flowers, pearls and ribbons. Very editorial version and I absolutely love it!!!
Since studding with me in my Atelier Ayuko Hishikawa established her own brand she named "Ms.Merry" based in Tokyo, Japan. She now creates extraordinary hats for many occasions and works on teaming up with one of the garment designers in Japan to start on a special line of clothes and hats. You can find Ayuko right HERE and if you are not fluent in Japanese, you can visit Ayuko's Facebook Page  . I can not express how happy and proud I feel looking at beautiful hats by Ayuko, but again good things come to good people and beautiful hats are created by those whose hearts are filled with beauty, patience and love for the chosen art. :-)
All images are courtesy of Ayuko Hishikawa. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Hats Of "Rita's Last Fairy Tale" By Renata Litvinova.

One of my latest discoveries and now almost obsessions is the movie created by producer, director, designer, actress and writer, impossibly talented Renata Litvinova entitled "Rita's Last Fairy Tale". I came across this movie almost by accident while working in my Atelier and now, almost 3 weeks later, can not stop thinking about it. I ended up watching it four times. Turns out "Rita's Last Fairy Tale" had the same effect on many of my friends: by the end of the first time watching the movie you almost feel scared that, by accident, you missed something very important.
If you would ask me to describe the genre of the movie, I would have to say  it is partially a drama, partially a fairy tale, partially a comedy, partially a haunting tragedy with strong touch of surrealism, where each dialogue feels almost like a small revelation. The story line is very simple - the Death, played by glamorous Renata, accompanies one of the main characters of the story, Rita, during her last days on Earth. The "Soul Collector", as Renata calls her character, has a substantial wardrobe of both dramatic, very high fashion gowns and accessories to wear when she is by herself, as well as more demure outfits which she wears to be among people. Every single piece of wardrobe: scarves, hats, brooches, impossibly inappropriately used gowns  were carefully chosen by Renata to serve one single purpose: to create  powerful visual effect. Brilliantly done. I could not take my eyes off the screen even for a second.
Many of the items of the wardrobe were pulled by Renata from her own wardrobe, including her Grandma's necklace in brilliant red, scarves and even impossible Chanel decorative combs and head bands were used in an unexpected manner. Some of the costumes for the movie were initially sketched by Renata. I, of course, was mesmerized by the head gear: the most dramatic of which was a head dress created by Kostya Gaidai. Heavily decorated Kokoshnik in black ordered by Renata for the fist few opening scenes of the movie.
Another dramatic piece is the hat made out of smoking cigarettes in a shape of the butterfly (the symbol of Death) and worn by the main character in one of the scenes. I have to confess - it had a mind blowing effect on me: the scene itself, the costumes, the dialogue - I literally can not stop thinking about it even today. There were many vintage hats used in the movie, but those that were created specifically for the movie feel very organic, in direct correlation with each particular scene. "Rita's Last Fairy Tale" is one of the most beautiful intellectual movies I have seen in years and I would recommend to anyone who speaks Russian to watch it and than watch it again. The taboo subject of touching the mortality and not being scared by it, the idea that Death itself can look glamorous, gentle, kind and capable of meaningful conversations - there is something deeply personal in this movie.

I am leaving you with the images form "Rita's last Fairy Tale" and wishing you wonderful Tuesday. :-) My new Collection is in full production along with many orders for Kentucky Derby and my wonderful students who are working very hard on creating their first hats. :-)))