Tag Archives: designer

Millinery in ManHATtan

We live in a world of constant change and developing technology, a world where everything moves so fast. Sometimes this is a brilliant whirlwind to get caught up in, but sometimes this fast-paced world means certain time-honored traditions may fall behind.

So it nearly was with Makins, one of the last remaining millinery factories in New York City’s Garment District. They had been in the city for “forty years, making hats for Frank Sinatra, Brad Pitt, Kim Kardashian, the works.” Our friend, hat designer Satya Twena, had been using their factory for her own collection for a few years, when suddenly everything changed.

“One day we got a call saying, “We closed, come pick up your stuff before we sell it off,” and I ran over here, met with the owner…and literally we needed to come up with money within two weeks. So we raised money pretty quickly to acquire the factory.”

Satya and her cousin Malka made the decision to purchase the factory in order to save not only all the American-made equipment or the hand-carved hat blocks, but to save the employees who worked there, the small business suppliers and the history of millineries in Manhattan. While they were able to make the first major purchase to save the factory, now they’re raising funds in order to continue the tradition of hand-made hat making.

“We’ve raised the money to buy this place, but we don’t necessarily have the funds to run it month to month…we’ve started a Kickstarter to help support it, and also get awareness out there of the fact that an American-made hat is something that would be lost forever unless we do something about it.”

All of the money raised on Kickstarter is going to the preservation of the factory, hiring back the employees, and getting the factory up and running again.

We spent an afternoon in this historic place, making our own custom-made hats with Satya, which you of course can buy through their Kickstarter, or just take a glimpse at what it looks like to go through the generations-old process of creating a hat…

  

A lifetime’s worth of sourcing and materials…

Satya explained to us that these blocks for shaping the hats are all hand carved; some are from Paris, some from London, and having them all together is extremely rare. If she had not bought all the factory’s equipment, the pieces would have been sold off to individuals, and this library of incredible, beautiful history would have been separated forever…

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In the Studio With…

I have always loved Prabal Gurung’s understanding of the modern woman in his designs (and so have some incredible modern women!), and his spring/summer 2014 collection was no different.

Prabal stated that his main muse for this collection was Marilyn Monroe – the perfect choice for a designer so focused on femininity. To bring her into the modern era, however, was a challenge…and one Prabal took on fun, bright, edgy way.

Marilyn was represented in the elegance, glamour, and curvy silhouettes of the collection, but the punchy colors, abstract florals, and plastic harnesses made sure she felt at home and in vogue in the fast-paced 21st century.

“It was a celebration of women,” Prabal explained. “I was thinking about preserving elegance, but making it modern and right for now with the right amount of danger…I like the idea of femininity with bite.”

I’m sure Marilyn would have approved.

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In the Studio With

Shot on September 4, 2012 at Robert Lee Morris's Studio on black and white Tri-x 400 film and 35mm Pentax Camera

A moment of crazy fun turned into a dramatic coronation.”

On a rainy day in Manhattan, I walked into the studio of Robert Lee Morris and all of a sudden, like a scene from a musical, we were pulling out drawers and drawers of jewelry!  accessories! belts! crowns! cuffs!… a whole lifetime of creating extraordinary, one-of-a-kind pieces for the world’s top designers. “This walked down Calvin Klein’s runway and oh yes! This walked down Donna Karan’s!”

All around the studio were artifacts from travels, books for inspiration, sculptures and studies on the human form, work benches, sketch boards, mood boards, old ad campaigns and editorals framed and leaning on one another – layered through time and history. Taylor, Kelly & I were like giddy little girls finding treasures while Robert told all the wonderful fairytales that accompany each of his masterful pieces.

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A Handbag Designer, a Dog, & the West Village

This former stylist and accessories editor is now designing her own line of luxury handbags made with exotic skins and surprising colors which reflect where she finds her inspiration, most recently from a trip to India. With a new store opening this fall in the West Village it goes without saying she went from showing us what is cool to making something cool.

I met up with Khirma at her work studio in the Village recently to see the new space and collection, talk boys and fashion mags, and, over dirty martinis, why we love NY in the fall.

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