Sunday, April 15, 2007

Hat Stuff

If you like wearing hats but find difficulty in searching for the perfect hat for you, why not make your own? Its possible now because celebrity millinery designer Eugenia Kim has come out with SATURDAY NIGHT HAT. In this book, Kim teaches you to make thirty of her hottest designs, with patterns and instructions so easy you can start the project Saturday morning and wear it out on Saturday night! By the end of the book, you would have learned how to make a Beret, cloche, cocktail hat, Pillbox, Fedora, Newsboy and a Sun hat. According to a review by Jim Shi of Fashion Week Daily the book is “Peppered with witty illustrations, easy-to-follow diagrams, and photos of her to-die-for designs."

Check out some of Eugenia Kim's headpieces to get your creative juices flowing:

Now wouldn't it be great if you can make all these and more on your own? And from the milliner to the stars herself who so graciously shared her art and expertise! According to the Eugenia Kim website, this talented designer's success story is the stuff that modern fairy tales are made of:

One day, fresh out of a year-long stint at Allure magazine, Eugenia Kim was shopping in Soho. Eugenia had recently shaved her head because of a bad haircut, and was wearing a red guinea-feathered cloche she had made in her millinery class at the Parsons School of Design. She had designed the hand-feathered hat with the intention of resembling hair in some abstract way and to keep her bald head warm.

Several store owners immediately took notice. By the end of the day, the jobless Eugenia now had appointments with two of the stores to see her collection. She didn't have a collection, so she just made two cloche styles in many different colors. The next week, her hand-feathered cloches, in vibrant colors like lavender and electric blue, were in the windows of Bond 07 in Noho and Selima Optique in Soho. At the end of the month, Barneys New York had placed their first order.

After a grueling, year-long search, Eugenia soon found a live/work retail space and opened an eponymous retail store in the East Village in downtown New York, where she now sells her collection of women's and men's hats alongside her custom couture pieces and bridal headwear.

In 2004, Eugenia Kim launched a shoe line that doubled her business and won the CFDA Perry Ellis award for Accessories Design. Eugenia's hats can now be found at Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, and Bloomingdales as well as over 100 specialty boutiques worldwide; her shoes can be found at Saks Fifth Avenue as well as 40 boutiques worldwide. She is a personal favorite of fashion editors and stylists, and counts Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, Eve, and Nicole Kidman among her devotees.

Now here's the philosophy behind her designs:

"I believe that hats are the ultimate cosmetic as the right hat can instantaneously transform the shape of the wearer's face. I make hats that flatter a woman's face rather than overpower the woman. Each piece is meant to be like a sculpture, contoured to flow with the lines of the face to create a sensual effect. An asymmetrical brim emphasizes cheekbones, a large brim places a mysterious shadow over the eye, and a pink hat gives one's cheeks a rosy glow.

I believe the hat defines the look as the face is what one notices first. A flattering dress can make one appear slimmer, but the right hat can change one's entire look and outlook.

I work with simple shapes and subvert them to make them modern. Simplicity of form is key to balancing the extravagance of brilliant colors and decadent materials like feathers and fur. I believe in making everything by hand as much as possible; only in this way, can it remain a craft and an art form to me.

The woman who wears my designs is one who is confident and has a certain sense of humor. She is not afraid to be the center of attention! I create hats with the hope that the person wearing it out will be laughing or smiling more than usual and definitely having more fun!

I have always naturally gravitated towards the found object and the surrealistic aspects of trompe l'oeil as details in my work. You can take almost any minute object of daily life - candy, toy cars, dice - and put them on a hat. Like Elsa Schiaparelli (modernist fashion designer known for Surrealism in her work), with whom I am sometimes flatteringly compared, and who is an inspiration to me, I have the same enjoyment of the visual pun.

Almost every fortunate thing that's ever happened to me has occurred by accident, like starting my business (because of bad hair), opening my store (through eviction), and starting a shoe line (from cheesy pick-up line). Since I've been clumsy and accident-prone my entire life, improvising and thinking on the fly have become my best allies to fix many situations. I also soon discovered that hat design, because it involves spontaneous problem-solving and creative freedom, was the perfect medium for my innate tendencies. And if I spill diet coke on a white hat, I would dip the whole hat in diet coke so it looks antiqued."

I have yet to see an actual Eugenia Kim design with my own eyes, but I'm liking this girl and her hats already!!!

(Photos courtesy of and

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