Sunday, April 8, 2012

"One Block Many Milliners" FIT 4/5/12

This past Thursday evening, we were truly in our element! FIT hosted a cocktail reception and event called "One Block Many Milliners", which ingeniously challenged 25 hat makers to use the exact same hat block for a 4-day period to produce either one or two hats and pass it to the next in line. The one-day show, co-sponsored by FIT Alumni and Faculty and the Milliners Guild, exhibited the wonderfully wide variations of hats which resulted from the experiment. (We're standing in front of Aaron Keppel's Rondelle of matted straw, wood veneer and silk chiffon.)

Hmmm. Cocktails and hats! Somebody used the perfect bait to reel us in!

Atop the boxes is block that formed the foundation for the cavalcade of hats that appears at the end of today's post.

But wait, you may already have said to yourselves, Where are the IFs' hats??? A well-meaning but badly misinformed friend specifically told us not wear hats ourselves, to avoid upstaging and/or upsetting the exhibitors. Needless to say, we immediately saw the obvious holes in that theory when we arrived and saw 80% of attendees wearing great hats! Several people recognized us (including Ellen Christine, a popular, and very well-known NYC milliner) and commented that we'd disappointed them by not showing up in our signature outrageous headwear. We were genuinely touched ... and inconsolable! We should have followed our instincts. For future reference: hat makers do appreciate hat wearers.

Linda Ashton, FIT alumna (Millinery Class of 1997) and President of the Milliners Guild, organized the one-night event, which we hope will be picked up and sponsored by a gallery, so the work will have a wider audience. We loved her pink toy hat.

The event drew familiar names in hat making, both as guests and as participants. Rod Keenan (center, whom we'd met at the opening of Stephen Jones and the Victoria & Albert Museum's "Hat Anthology" exhibit at Bard last year, and who made a hat for none other than Brad Pitt) stopped by the show to see the work of milliners such as Lisa Shaub (in fuschia).

Ellen Christine, in a wonderful purple flowered vintage creation to match her outfit and accent her spring green velvet tasseled scarf, did not disappoint. Next to her is Yuka Hasegawa, whose hats have been sold at Barney's.

And here is a representative of the next generation of hat-wearers!

These three glamourpusses are milliners and exhibitors. From left to right: Monika Stebens, Anne De Pasquale and Connie Borda.

Don't you just love the hilarious placement of the white hand on Danielle's shirt? Although she was not one of the exhibitors, she does also make hats (

Evetta Petty, posing between two of her entries, shows her designs at Harlem's Heaven Hat Boutique. For more information, visit

Don't you love the lady on the right's stockings (one black one one white, to go with her hat)? She and her companion really dressed for the occasion.

Wanda J. Ghambers of Once Upon a Hat ( models one of her designs, a silver sequined top hat. We'd previously met her at other hat-centric events.

Janet Linville (left), an FIT faculty member who also exhibited at the show, poses with Valerie (no, not IF Valerie), one of her former students.

Milliner Kathy Anderson ( on the right and her friend were enjoying themselves and seemed to know everybody!

Kathy Anderson looked just as good coming as going.

Even the gents got into the act. Don't these two look positively dapper? It's so refreshing to see Men in Hats.

This well dressed gentleman is milliner Connie Borda's husband.

This duo was checking out every single hat. The lady on the right sported a bronze straw number that dipped very low in the back.

When Jean spotted the lady in the middle, she immediately coveted her hat. We tend to break that commandment (you know, the one about coveting thy neighbor's goods?) on a regular basis.

This pair also enjoyed themselves at the reception, meeting people and checking out the hats.

THE HATS -- the true stars of the evening! (Keep in mind that all of these hats were created using the exact same block!) Here are just a few:

Barbra Volker's charming spider hat was hilariously entertaining.

This red felt flaming number by Monika Stebbins got our attention.

We were dying to try on this white fur hat with an upturned brim, by FIT millinery instructor Janet Linville.

Cigmond Meachen's pink and yellow hat looked totally different from anything else in the show. We've unwittingly spotted Cigmond on any number of occasions (especially at vintage shows) because she's always wearing a marvelous hat of her own making.

A demure ecrue straw hat by Marcia Lacher was beautifully constructed. Marcia created the pinches at the top to avoid cutting the material.

This luscious cheetah print bicorne hat was made by DeAnna Gibbons.

This gray velour felt is decorated with stones and metal leaf.

Laura del Villagio's traditional burgundy felt hat was gorgeous.

There is just something about a red and black hat... This one was dubbed The Black Rose by its creator, Regina McCarthy.

Cha Cha Dina Pisani, who calls her company the Cha Cha House of Ill Repute, made this creation.

This Tiffany inspired hat is by Marie D'Antoni. To the right, a mutual friend wears one of Marie's felt hats.

Lisa Shaub made this silver Juliet cap.

Interestingly felted and stitched with leaf-shaped cutouts and embroidery, this hat is another Cigmond creation.

This fur felt shibori hat is by Lisa Shaub, the same milliner who made the Juliet cap (2 photos above), They are totally different in look and feel.


  1. A millinery extravaganza! The depth and range of hat creation in your photos is truly inspiring. It's so much fun to see so many people wearing and enjoying hats.

  2. Wow oh wow oh wow.
    What a great re-CAP
    Love you ladies! Thank you for the shout out. Tracy Watts, the maker of Madonna's hat was on my right. Are we facebook friends?