Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Business Of Millinery, Part 1: Hats and Public Relationships. What Are The Options And How Does It Really Work?

Illustration Created by Leonid Gurevich For "Anya Caliendo.Couture Millinery Atelier."

     Or does it work at all? There are some topics in the modern day business of Millinery in the US, nobody talks about. Somehow vital and important bits of information on how to advance your Millinery business in the context of todays
Fashion Industry remains hidden. They are as mysterious as black holes scattered in space-time. Since the establishment of my brand, I came to the conclusion that this phenomenon might be attributed to the following fact: Couture Millinery, as a part of Accessories Family, is not marketed and supported by the main stream Fashion Industry as aggressively and consistently as the rest of the family in accessories division such as shoes, bags, scarfs, belts, sun glasses and etc.. Traditional Couture Millinery in the US is itself a big black hole missing from the map of action. A little disclaimer: I am not talking about accidental milliners, milliners who decided to be a part of the profession for the shier love of hats and to whom creating hats is more of a hobby rather than an attempt to build strong, viable, successful Millinery. I will also leave outside of the discussion factory made, mass produce hats simply because this is entirely different direction in Millinery and has nothing to do with Couture aspect of it.

Disappointingly, the business of Couture Millinery in the US is not supported by Fashion Industry nowhere near (often feels like not at all!) as strongly as it is supported in Great Britain, France, Spain and Italy. There are many fantastic initiatives created in support of the Millinery Art overseas. For example, "Headonism" initiative by a British Fashion Council curated by Stephen Jones which celebrates  new wave of emerging London milliners is keeping the art of Millinery alive, updated, strong and present, securing the path way for new generations of Milliners of the future. British, who don't really have to worry
about the survival of the Millinery as an Art Form, because of the traditionally  formed hat culture, go an extra 1000 miles to make sure that Millinery remains as strong and rich in diversity as ever. "Headonism" doesn't get just few hours on display in legendary Somerset House in London during London Fashion Week. It stays on display all through the entire Fashion Week.

Majority of  Parisian Couture Houses have Millinery departments and, as we see every season, hats continue to have strong presence on Parisian catwalks. Some of the Parisian Houses choose to employ efforts of well established Milliners located near by. In 2005, if my memory serves me right, Karl Lagerfeld invested funds of the House Of Chanel into purchasing rare artisians like Atelier Legeron , Ecole Lesage and Maison Michele - couture Millinery the only one of its kind remaining in Paris to secure  and protect the survival of the artisians. Italy with Milan(the birth city for the word "milliner"), at the very heart of best traditions in craftsmanship, continuously supporting one of the best headgear in the world starting form beloved brand "Borsalino"  and all the way to romantic, airy, fabulous hats and headpieces on its catwalks.

We, as Milliners in the US, to this day do not have a firm platform upon which American Millinery can reignite its strong presence as a unique, independent, rich with an amazing historical tradition trade, alive and well, in all its glory  on the forefront of major Fashion events and American Fashion in general . Some of the iconic names in Fashion like Donna Karan, for instance, still turns overseas to order hats for her collections as well as some other well established, legendary names of American Fashion.

 Today, it feels like American Couture Millinery is an orphan sister of Accessory Family whose rare appearances you see during countless family functions. Her appearances are random, brief and sporadic. It is somehow always a glimpse and rarely a full view. Lets take a close look at what is really happening with American Couture Millinery vs. main stream Fashion Industry.

The support of the Fashion Industry is established in a variety of different ways. If you look at the  members of CFDA, the main lobbying force in the American Fashion Industry, you will easily notice that the ratio between apparel designers, jewelry designers, shoes/bags/glasses designers vs. milliners is astonishingly inappropriate. Out of 400 members of CFDA 4 ( + 2) are Milliners. Think about this for a minute... The support of Fashion Industry also comes in a variety of editorial features. For example, pay attention to very popular widely run features like "Top 10 Accessories for Spring", "Best Accessories Of The Week" and so on. If you monitor it closely, you will see that hats are present 5 times out of 100 (lucky if that many!). In addition websites like , for example, don't even have "hats" listed as a separate category in the sub-list of "accessories" tab.  Often, major American Fashion Publications choose to consistently cover well known Couture Milliners located overseas. We all have tremendous respect for their names, but at the end, American Couture Millinery remains in the shadow as if it does not exist at all. The assumption is that the place of American Couture Millinery is somewhere on the dusty shelves of archives or rare millinery exhibitions, in the nooks and corners scattered all over the place, in unassuming workrooms, ateliers, home studious - away from the spot light. We are struggling for the shier survival of the Art Form of true Couture Millinery.

While the support of the Fashion Industry is critically important, it is also important to understand how the marketing of the brands happen in the context of today's Fashion Industry. Having been around the corner or two, my impression is that the current state of affairs makes it almost impossible for any Milliner to gain altitude and succeed in chosen direction without substantial (the word should be "insane" really) monitory investments in the brand. I am deliberately leaving the legends of the American Millinery like Eugenia Kim, Eric Javits out of this conversation. Eric Javits established his brand back in 1985. Eugenia Kim in 1997. Both started in the time when it was significantly easier to market due to an entirely deferent order of things: powerful PR firms did not yet influence the market cost of presentations and shows, things were often done on a very modest budget, connections were established much more easier, the vast majority of production for the Fashion Industry was still located in the Meatpacking district in New York, not in China, and the body of Fashion itself did not shift its focus from appreciation for the art of design and craftsmanship to the glitter and lights of huge, theater-like show productions at the price tag of hundreds of thousands dollars a pop, the first row attendees and flamboyant after show parties. And so here we are. The truth is: in the modern day business of Fashion it is all about who you really know and who represents your name.

With in the past 10 years PR firms (Public Relationship firms) in Fashion have positively reaffirmed themselves as often the only option on the way to the golden gate of Fashion Industry.  They are the go-to middle man between you and your dream. The Gray Cardinals of backstage who are capable of  making it all happen. There are many things one must be aware of before choosing to go with PR firm option, countless underwater stones that must be taken into consideration very carefully because this business is all about smoke and mirrors where nothing seems to be what it seems. Challenge # 1 is choosing the right PR firm that is not only well connected to the key people in Fashion Industry, but also the PR firm that has extensive experience in marketing hats. Do your research carefully, make sure to go through the existing list of clients to see the level of operation. Make sure to prepare a list of questions to ask on preliminary meeting and listen very carefully. Make sure to have a very clear picture of  how this particular PR firm operates. How often do they let people on the staff go and hire new interns? Because if they can not keep their own staff permanent, chances are - they are disorganized and overwhelmed. And this means - your case will be footballed from one case worker to another creating gaps and holes in your representation.

You will be surprised to learn that not every PR firm positioning itself as Fashion PR has enough experience and connections to do a good enough job. New York is housing hundreds of them courtesy of young, determined, hungry for success and money people fresh out of "Fashion Merchandising" faculties  of FIT and Parsons. Remember, PR is always about two things: communication and selling. Any PR person speaking off the record will tell you that the main objective of any PR firm is to sell their services to you. They will promise you the stars and the moon, tell you exactly what you want to hear (after all, they are excellent in communications and building client strategies), but at the end of the day YOU will be the one paying for every single choice and step they make on your behalf.  So, essentially, lets get a little cynical here, they don't give a rats tail about the art, craftsmanship, inspiration behind your Collection and so on. What they do care about is all mighty dollar. And there are plenty of those required along the way. Let's take a look at price points on the menu, shall we? 

One of the popular PR services is product pitching. For example. PR firm receives a request from a certain important fashion publication preparing to run a story on, lets say,  "Flowers in the Attic". Editors would like to request certain head pieces in the certain color pallet. Mind you majority of the stylists and editors do pitch to PR firms in search of what they need because it makes things easier on them. They choose not to have their interns contact each designer on the list one by one. PR firm than pulls out suitable designs from those designers who are signed up with them and ships selection directly to the magazine. Sounds wonderful except... not a single PR firm will sign you on a month to month basis. Instead, you would have to sign up for a year worth of services in advance which will cost you $ 5,000 per month x 12 months = $60,000 + tax . You are expected to pay out this figure without any guarantee that the hats you provided will make it in the publication at all. You will, however, be responsible for the shipping bill. These shipping bills no one ever discusses with you in advance but, potentially, the price of shipping can easily escalate to the sizable sum very quickly, leaving you in the red. This is due to the fact that in Fashion everything is last minute, everything has to be done yesterday. Especially if it comes to hats. The request for the hats always comes last.  Stylists will go above and beyond to secure apparel and shoes, jewelry and glasses weeks in advance. But hats are always the last to be thought about. More along the lines: "Well, it would be nice to have some hats... just in case...". In my next post I will touch on the difference between PR firm dealing with stylists on your behalf vs. you dealing directly with stylists.

Everything is shipped overnight or with a messenger (don't forget you also paying for the return shipping the same way) which brings the cost to 150$ to 300$  for a single magazine. Multiply by the number of inquiries PR firm gets and you will start picturing the shipping expense you would have to pick up each month. PR will pitch your hats every which way they can without any regard to shipping cost because well, you know, they are working for you and need to show you the result. The results will look like a statement letter at the end of each months sent to you with complete run through of the names of the publications, the months of the issues the photo shoots were done for and with a note on whether your hat made it into the issue or not. I chose NOT to be signed up with PR firm I hired to produce my show at MBFW for additional services, but decided to educate myself on the subject since the opportunity was there.

Do not be disappointed when you see big fat "0" next to this one. After all, remember? - nobody guarantees you anything. Just like no one will guarantee you that the condition of your sample hats will remain pristine. PR will never guarantee you a safe return of your hats, nor will it guarantee you a suitable replacement cost in the event of the loss. The hats are often mistreated on the sets, tossed aside carelessly, packed badly without care and as a result - your samples will have damage, often permanent. In term of money - you will never be able to sell them at their original price, will never be able to replace the cost of materials and production cost. Let's be clear on that.

Another thing to realize is that you are not the only designer they represent. You are one of many and so just as they pull your hats, they pull every single headpiece they see suitable from every other client they represent to put into the same photo  shoot. Independent Milliners are rarely represented by PR firms. You will never see solo Millinery collection resting comfortably for the world to see in the caves of PR showrooms. The head pieces, hats and head gear of all kinds come to PR from many different sources. For example, many apparel designers add hats, always factory made, always in very traditional classic shapes to their collection to extend revenues of income. Not only hats, but bags, gloves, shoes and belts too. So, if you are told that you are the only solo milliner represented by PR it doesn't mean that you will be the only source of hats and it doesn't mean your hats will be exclusively pitched. In a nut shell, for 5,000$ a month you get to play a great old-fashioned game known as Russian Roulette while only dreaming about exclusive representation of your hats.

Once in a while you will come across spectacularly, deliciously peculiar situations which have PR written all over it.  Some time in 2011, numerous fashion blogs and various publication announced that a young lady, American, by the name of Gigi Burris is appointed by Chanel as a resident milliner. The news seem to hit media outlets simultaneously which means that the press release normally issued in cases like this was distributed (as it should have been) by Chanel in its usual manner - via PR to all international media. Needless to say, it created a swirl of interest for the mysterious and lucky Gigi. In an instant her name became everyone's destination. At the time, 23 year old Gigi, fresh out of Parsons seemed to be the most unlikely candidate: first of all,
Chanel likes to keep it in the family so do speak and see Chanel going with American (not French)  resident milliner was absolutely unthinkable. Secondly,  Gigi, although wonderfully charming and enthusiastic, was too inexperienced for this sort of position and had absolutely no signature style developed. Finally, her hats - flirty, young and very uncomplicated at the time created very obvious dissonance between what she was capable of delivering as a milliner and high standards of Chanel. Few days later the same media outlets who reported the announcement had to post disclaimers and updates carefully adding that the story is not confirmed and that Gigi herself has no idea and absolutely lost as to who would have an audacity to report a false story on her behalf anonymously. At that time, I happened to be in Paris visiting the very same workrooms of Maison Michele where Gigi (according to the story) was suppose to begin her residency. The manager and CEO of Maison Michele, Mr.Hardouin  was extremely puzzled by the news and said that it must be a mistake. Turns out, the entire story was a...well, you do the math. I still smile when I think of it. What a brilliant, brilliant, pardon my French, ballsy move on the behalf of that terrible "anonymous" person. How awful! Very inconsiderate!

Among many other strongly suggested services on the menu are curious little things like "Promotional Week". In addition to your retainer cost you PR will highly motivate you to pay another 5,000- 6,000$ for Promotional Week. Essentially, Promotional Week usually runs 2 times a year and consists of the following: you place your entire Collection with your PR firm and they arrange a full week of visits to PR headquarters of the wide list of stylist, editors, buyers, clients and celebs they deal with. In many cases this Week is done outside of the New York Week Schedule and is arranged not only for New York office of PR firm but also alternative offices in LA (for LA the cost is separate and also will run anywhere from 5,000$ to 6,000$) . I am not sure if this is beneficial for the prosperity of the brand.

Another curious little appetizer is called "Celebrity placement" . And this is where, I have to be honest with you, all of it stops making any sense to me. AT ALL !!! According to this service you, as a designer of fabulous hats, is expected to shed 10,000$ for a single celebrity of a D-list to have an opportunity for this celebrity to grace their own head with you creation so that than this celebrity could grace  your own presentation or show with personal appearance OR to wear your design and credit it to your name at coveted Fashion events. What!? Really!? Duh, dummy, look how silly you look with you pretty little jaw on the floor! Now, sweetie, suck it up, reapply, put back on that cute little topper you just lost while having temporary stroke and listen to the rest. The idea behind this tremendous fees to PR is the push effort to gain clientele of a certain stature and financial capability who would actually be able to pay for the superb combination of design and craftsmanship. You just paid for another month of PR representation, sweated over huge 4 figure shipping bill - all in a single effort for those very people who can afford your hats to discover you and buy your hats. And apparently YOU end up to be the one who is expected to pay 10,000$ to a very person who, by all means, is perfectly capable of purchasing the hat. The best part (please drum rolls and a drooling cup because you will need it after another round of  convulsions) is that you are kept in the dark about who exactly this D-list celebrity will be. Anybody's wild guess here. I mean, with all do respect, Honey Boo-Boo's Mama anyone? Possibly?...

    And again - no control over the situation. It would be logical to assume that the fee is much higher for A-listers. So, how many of those celebrities we see on the front row of the coveted Fashion Shows each season are paid for by the designer vs. invited as a guest and loyal client? How many of the clothes and accessories produced by the designers are actually sold to celebrities? Very little. It is now considered a great luck if your hat is pulled by the stylist for a brief evening for a celebrity to  borrow and than return. Celebrities are now viewed as a walking sales pitch and many of them act like one. Why not? They all are getting to keep their fortunes untouched courtesy of new generation of PR who throw merchandise at them with a speed of  the bullets flying out of a trace gun.  Well, remember it is all smoke and mirrors. All this style awards and best dressed awards  lost meaning and essence, because everything is borrowed not bought and the styling in the overwhelming majority of cases is done by someone else. The fashion crowd containing so many familiar faces of those who desperately want to be viewed as style icons and well promoted Fashion Bloggers - majority wear clothes they borrowed form PR showrooms or wear the clothes they are paid to wear as a form of advertising. Modern Day Fashion industry is more and more resembling giant glamourized second hand store. The time of sublime style icons who use to own their wardrobe and, oh horror!!! - dress themselves too: Nan Kempner, Millicent Rogers, Gloria Guinness, Slim Keith, Anna Piaggi and Isabella Blow are long over. And YOU, as a designer working with PR, is lured into believing that you are a part of it and that you should breathe and dream of lending your hat for use free of charge...while trying desperately to establish and sustain your Millinery business...

   Why am I stressing this point? Because I believe you have to have a very clear picture before you will start feeding the always hungry monster of PR. This little Monster is about to get even hungrier since we did not even cover the topic of Fashion Week Show production expenses. In order to keep this series of articles on Business in Millinery manageable, I decided to post them in several installments over the next few posts. With in the next few takes I will cover the subject of successful Millinery Presentation/Show Production, compare alternative and price points between the shows that employ PR vs. independent shows. I will cover the alternative way of obtaining cost manageable PR services and make few suggestions on how to bring it all together, how to build your own personal relationship with stylists and secure wealth and prosperity of your brand without going bankrupt with in the few first years of operation. Meanwhile, if you would like to ask any questions with regards to this subject along the way , I will make sure to cover them as we go. Wishing you wonderful week ahead! :-)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Atelier Life: Very Recent Press And Editorial Work: "The SFP LookBook, SS2014", "Genlux" Magazine and "El Pais Semanal", March 2014 Issues.

 While I am working on the series of articles dedicated to the business of Millinery, on the subjects that are almost never discussed in the open, I decided to post  a bit of recent updates on Press and Editorial work of my Atelier. Our very talented IT guy, Richard, is currently working on posting new updates to my official website which should become available early next week. Thankfully, editorial requests are coming in and features on the hats of my Atelier pop out here and there, often unexpectedly, courtesy of different fashion publication. Thrilled to see my hats in the official The SPF Look Book for SS2014 Collections presented at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York.
 Always such a joy for me to see hats I have worked so hard on featured in the solid business fashion publications like this magazine. I count it as wink from the industry my way. Thank you, guys! :-) 
"GENLUX" Magazine, March 2014 Issue ran a small feature on the hat "Good Night, Amy!" Very kind of them. Thank you, GENLUX!

 Finally, "El Pais Semanal" Magazine, March 2014 Issue (I posted it via Facebook yesterday) ran editorial which included gold leather headpiece editors of "El Pais Semanal" custom ordered from my Atelier for this editorial. Love the dark look of the images and always enjoy working on very special, custom design pieces. :-)
 Wishing all of you wonderful weekend ahead. It is, finally, feels like Spring. :-) It makes it so much easier to work on several very special projects here, in my Atelier. :-)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

"Ko-Ko Muse" Hat Of "Confessions" Collection, SS2014.

 You know that the Spring is here when the orders for upcoming Racing Season begin to come in. March is almost at the end of its course but New York is still gearing up for that last blast of snow today. Well, snow or no snow, the production is always extremely intense here, in my Atelier. I like doing things far in advance and so "Ko-Ko Muse", which I am introducing to you here, has been created for my "Confessions" Collections with a very specific thought behind it - to bring elegance and chic to the hats of Kentucky Derby. I admittedly dismissed Kentucky Derby for years. I did design several hats for several of my clients attending the event but with one condition only - the design aspect was always left to me, I insisted I was given complete freedom when it came to the design of the hat. I did, however, refused every single request for the creation of your typical, ghastly, overwhelmingly ugly hat Kentucky Derby is so famous for. As far as I was concerned - I am not putting my name I have worked so hard to create on the hat I think is far below the standard.
 Unfortunately, big, bulky, acid colored, "rip your eye" kind of hats are still a big YES-YES for Kentucky Derby attendees, for the very rare exception of course. Thank God for this rare exceptions - without resting my eyes on them I might go blind one day. I think this is due to the fact that to American women attending Kentucky Derby the hat for the occasion is still more of an afterthought rather than a well thought through accessory. It is often ordered very close to the event and the main objective is to be noticed at all costs hence all this horrific giant bows and hyper flowers. / text edited/ Of course, there are beautiful hats we are treated to in Kentucky Derby round ups, but those, in my opinion, are far and few in between. Overwhelming majority of hats I view as unsuitable. I divide these in two categories: 1. Tasteless kitsch - these hats don't appear out of the thin air, they are created by milliners who cater to the idea that bigger is always better and that it is the hat that wears a woman not a woman that wears a hat. 2. Hats I call "safies" - these are the hats that would be suitable for work in the garden or casual wear - plain and average. In shoe terms, it is like flip flops in comparison to lets say Manolo Blahniks. They are obviously picked not because they are Kentucky Derby material, but because, well, it is hat and anything goes . Neither two of this categories are acceptable because neither one of this two categories serve up to the high standard of Kentucky Derby. I am puzzled and taken back by continuous lack of effort on behalf of Kentucky Derby attendees who bring less that acceptable headwear to the pride and joy of American Racing in the US.   Notice the difference: if European lady will always order her hat first and then built the entire outfit around it, American will most likely to leave the choice of the hat to the very last minute. Neither is necessarily write or wrong but it points out to the existing hat culture and tradition in Europe vs. absence of such in the US. This is precisely why the choice of Kentucky Derby hats we see year after year is so disappointing High standards of the Royal Ascot is there for the entire world to see and admire and yet always such a disappointing turn around of hats in Kentucky Derby chronicles. The word "standard" is a key word here. While Ascot have strict guide lines on what is viewed as appropriate race wear, Kentucky Derby does not. And so here you have it, just like with anything else - the absence of appropriate dress code will always reflect on what we see during Kentucky Derby. I hope I can contribute to slowly changing it to the higher standard. Let's start with "Ko-Ko Muse" - :-)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Editorial Work: My Hats In "Queen Selita" Dannijo Jewelry Line Add Campaign, Styled by The Glamourai.

 Absolutely love the end result of the "Queen Selita" editorial and Add Campaign created for the anniversary collection of the chic jewelry line Dannijo, styled by one of my secret style crushes The Glamourai. It is amazing to see the transformation of hats I created in the context of strong African aesthetics. One would imagine that the clash between two is inevitable but seeing it put together by the talented hand of The Glamourai team completely overwrites any doubt at all.
 You can view entire editorial with complete credits right HERE . The colors of it are so vivid, it makes me feel almost as if the Spring has already arrived. We have a beautiful sunny day here, in New York and I am looking forward to the day full of great new ventures. Wishing every one fabulous weekend!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Editorial Work: My Atelier For "Interview" Magazine, March 2014 Issue. "Into The Darkness".

 As I have mentioned in one of my previous posts, my Atelier has been overwhelmed with the number of requests for the photo shoots over the past several months. It is always mega exciting when your hats make it into high profile editorial and,in this case,  even more so, because this editorial titled "Into The Darkness" was styled by the stylist whose work I admire oh so much - brilliant Karl Templer and photographed by Craig McDean for the March 2014 Issue Interview Magazine. Sasha Pivovarova - one of my long time  favorites in the glamorous world of super models, took a center stage in telling the story of "Into The Darkness" editorial: "Rejecting the traditional conventions of all that's bright, white, and breezy, this summer embraces all that's dark and shady. The high drama plays out with a deeply personal, almost costume-y take on exaggerated silhouettes, rich fabrics, theatrical headpieces, and many shades of black". So proud to see my very strange, awkward darling "Vertigo" hat getting to enjoy spotlight in this editorial (you see it on the first image of the post).
The wardrobe for the photo shoot is equally impressive and consists of the pieces from the Collections of Louis Vuitton, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Schiaparelli, Ann Demeulemeester,  Haider Ackermann, Tom Ford,  Maison Martin Margiela..It is a little bit strange to see your name alongside these legends and I take tremendous pride in it. . This, my friends,  in a nutshell is the reason why I love what I do - to see the hats I work so hard to create as a part of the fashion story written with the help of so many brilliant creative minds. You can see entire editorial with complete credits right HERE . Wishing everyone inspiring and productive week ahead. :-)

Friday, March 14, 2014

My Brilliant Students, Part 9: Hania Bulczynska of Lallu Chic Millinery, Zielona Gora, Poland.

 When I think of Hania (you see her on the very last picture of this post), I think of sunshine. It is impossible not to smile next to her, it is impossible not to get infected by her boundless energy, sense of humor and enthusiasm. :-) At this point I have been teaching my Advanced Millinery Course long enough to see if the student has a viable future in Millinery. Dedication and patience is a huge part of it, of course. Every time student travels to my Atelier from as far away as Poland (just like Hania  did), or any other country in the world, I know immediately that dedication is not an issue as well as patience. People normally don't jump on the plain to cross Atlantic Ocean just for giggles. And so, yes, Hania meant business. :-)
 What set her apart form the rest of the Class was meticulous dedication to creating every single detail, no matter how small it was, in strict alliance with her vision. I always say that patience in millinery is the greatest virtue. It is important because at the end of the day ones ability to execute uncompromised design makes the hat stand out from the rest of the hats. Hania is a perfect example of it. Her love of color adds to the spectacular millinery symphony she creates. She marches to her own drum while being able to steer clear of the "crazy ugly" (my term for hideous hats with pretenses for originality) designs. She has a tremendous sense of humor when it comes to her designs and she always manages to keep it under control with her colorful, elegant hats.
 One of my most favorite memories of Hania is her final few days in my Atelier when she was working on turban. Turban is a mandatory hat of the course, difficult, strenuous, frustrating, often discouraging in the process. Hania chose a beautiful shade of golden velvet to work on her version of one of the hardest hats to master. One day into pleating the turban, patience wearing thing, Hania broke into tears. Nevertheless, she pushed herself into many attempts to re-pleat and redo design in progress until the turban was chic enough. "Chic enough" is the only term I use to grade turbans in my Class. While it is almost impossible to explain what "chic enough" means, to me it is an internal feeling - when I look at the hat and I know that the has is done brilliantly, six sense if you will. Once Hania finished her turban the expression of pride, joy, a very clear feeling of successful accomplishment she felt made every single moment of working on the turban worth it. After arriving back to Poland Hania e-mailed me telling me that she was so proud of her work, she actually wore her golden turban on the  air plain back to Poland. She received star treatment not only from airline personal but from the passengers of the flight too! Well, Hania knows how to wear her hats well.
 You can visit Hania right here and if you will ever find yourself in Zielona Gora in Poland where Hania runs her Lallu Chic Millinery, make sure to give Hania a call. Hania, I know you know this but just in case: I am so tremendously proud of you! I know how difficult it is to make it in Poland and my hat is off to you for your wonderful positive energy, your beautiful new designs and your world winning smile. :-) Sending you much love!
 All images in theis post are courtesy of Hania Bulczynska.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My Brillinat Students, Part 8: Arlette Burgaud, Paris. France.

 Every time I write an article about one of my brilliant students, I can't help but count my lucky stars. I have been blessed with many things in life, one of the most cherished of which,by far, is the love of those people who trusted me with being their teacher. This connection often goes far beyond the length of the 3 week long excruciatingly intense Course. Fortunately for me, it often turns into a life-long friendship with the most talented people from all over the world one can only hope to meet! Last week, while being in Paris for the fashion week, I had an amazing time spending one evening with my former student, my firend and now a Milliner with in her own right - Arlette Burgaud. Arlette visited me in Le Bristol Paris Hotel to catch up on new happenings in our lives. If there is an epitome of the phrase "Parisian chic" - Arlette is it! From the very first moment she walked into my Atelier two years ago: fabulously dressed, wearing berry lipstick, with her gorgeous red hair flowing I felt an immediate connection, almost instantaneous feeling of very special presence. I don't' know how to explain it really other than to say that I always "read" people well and I am rarely mistaken thanks to my internal barometer. :-)
 Arlette had an extraordinary life full of unbelievable adventures before she decided to open another chapter dedicating it to the art of millinery. In the early 20-s Arlette was a heart of a revolutionary group and an avant-garde feminist magazine in France. She worked as a secretary while studding to become a journalist ultimately becoming  first female subeditor of Le Matin, the most sought after daily paper at the time and than rising to the position of the head of the beauty section of a weekly women’s magazine directed by Jacques Chancel, while being a contributing writer for fashion magazines like Mari Clair Paris. Unbelievable career, right? To see Arlett now, modeling her own beautiful creations (you see Arlette here on black and white images of this post) is a thrill beyond my capability of description.
 Arlett's hats are very different just like Arlette herself: they are delicate, beautifully made, chic, with a very strong sense of Parisian aesthetics, this are the hats I would love to add to my own collection of the hats I wear. :-) I am so proud of Arlett's achievements and her progress but even more so, I am proud to have such a talented friend. Arlette, I love you with all my heart. So, if you ever find yourself in Paris - make sure to make an appointment with Arlette Burgaud. Arlette launched beautifully made site just a little while ago - - make sure to visit it.
 It is always visible just how much effort every Milliner puts into creation of their website. I always say it is your "face", this is your introduction to the world and subsequently to that specific group of clients you are trying to establish. Arlette put so much effort into creating her very first introductory editorial to her site. Flawless work! My hat is off to you, Arlette! All images are provided courtesy of Arlette and her phenomenal photographer Jean-Paul Lefret. I am leaving you with beautiful heats created by Arlette and will see you back here Friday with a new post on another very talented student of mine. :-) Have a wonderful week ahead!