Millinery in the Time of Coronavirus


I’ve been absent from this column for a few months — just a matter of it slipping down the priority list. My apologies.

And now, we’ve found that priorities have shifted dramatically in the past several weeks, for people all around the world, with the coronavirus pandemic. So what the heck does this have to do with millinery?

Like everything else, millinery has been affected by the crisis. So I decided to share a little run-down of what’s going on.

News

  • London Hat Week was supposed to be happening this week! The organizers are presenting a few online gatherings as “London Hat Week at Home” this week. And the formal events have been officially postponed until October (after initially being postponed to August).
  • Royal Ascot will not take place as a public event. Though the organizers are exploring the possibility of running the races “behind closed doors,” this wouldn’t really help the milliners who rely on hats for Ascot as a major source of their income.
  • The Kentucky Derby has been postponed from May until September. How this will affect hat orders has yet to be fully seen. But many milliners report that their usual Derby queues are empty.
  • Millinery Meet-Up in the United States is currently open for registration for a planned event Sept. 27-Oct. 1 — but the organizers already have a contingency plan in place for March 2021 in case it needs to be postponed.
  • Many milliners (like other fashion workers) have shifted their efforts to making fabric masks to donate to healthcare workers, to sell on Etsy or to give to friends and family.

Online Learning

My desk with iPad setup to watch Lina Stein’s “Sinamation” mini course. It was fabulous!
  • Milliner Lina Stein decided to give a wonderful gift to milliners to help with the social-distancing hardship. She ran three “mini taster” classes (three times each, for a total of 9 sessions)! Her courses touched on swirled sinamay, a short version of her origami millinery course from Hat Academy, and “Sinamation” — a wavy sinamay disk with embedded decoration. (I took that last one.) She is planning to offer more live online courses in the future for people to formally register for and purchase. Stay tuned!
  • Membership is currently open for the Millinery and Business Academy, a monthly education subscription focusing on tutorials on both millinery techniques and business advice. It’s run by milliner Katherine Elizabeth. Sign up before the end of April if you’d like to join. She’s even offering a £10 discount off the first month with code APR2020.

For myself, I find that my motivation and creativity and business priorities have undergone surprising shifts in mood. I had a creative doldrums, where I felt utterly uninspired and struggled to make anything. I pulled myself out of the funk just in time to make two hats for the Mad Hatters Society annual competition deadline on April 1. Mad Hatters Society is a Facebook group open to both hat-lovers and hat-makers.

Blue button hat and yellow fedora
A beaded blue porkpie button and a yellow 1940s-style fedora by Silverhill Creative Millinery for the Mad Hatters Society contest.

When I’ve felt the millinery juices dry up, or when the market downturn seems depressing, I’ve shifted gears by working on my web site and launching that. (Currently a basic website. Soon to be an ecommerce site. I’ll share more about that later.) And I’ve also signed up for a course to help develop my site further with CSS.

As a serial course-consumer I have been taking advantage of these strange times to expand my education.

If you are interested in learning more about millinery (or any other subject), now might be a good time! Regardless, stay safe and well.

Kristin Silverman

Kristin Silverman designs and makes hats under the label Silverhill Creative Millinery. She specializes in vintage-inspired hats for everyday modern wear. Kristin is also a singer and actor.

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