Me with Melissa Bolin, owner of Kitty Andrews.
Melissa Bolin is a creative genius. Each of her hats is a work of art, but unlike a painting, you can wear it out and show it off! She was sweet enough to let me interview her! You can see the Kitty Andrews official site here or you can check out her Etsy page here!
What about millinery particularly draws you in? Why did you decide this was your niche?
Hats and headpieces are my passion and they definitely get you noticed. They are on my mind constantly. One could say that I am a bit obsessed, probably because I have been interested and wearing hats since I was a young girl. My mother always encouraged me to dress up and be myself no matter who said what and this definitely shows through my work today. When the two of us would go for a girls lunch or tea I would typically wear a pretty little hat (I have twin brothers a year younger than I am so girl time was essential and always memorable).
I have read countless numbers of millinery textbooks and studied the work in them meticulously. I take the time to inspect vintage pieces to see how they were constructed and am always keeping an eye on milliners today. My studies at The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising has also helped pave the way for me. My visual design background has definitely helped when it comes to color selections and design precedents. Working for high end fashion houses, such as Vera Wang, have taught me how to produce a product of high quality and impeccable style. Millinery is a classic form of art that is steeped in traditional practices and methods. I work and try very hard to maintain the techniques that have been used for centuries (minus the mercury of course – I am crazy enough as it is), but approach the art with a youthful approach and draw on using modern materials and tastes. This results in pieces that elevate the wearer’s character and style. I only use high quality fabrics, felts, and trimmings. Each piece is made by my hands for each of my clients.
Much of my inspiration comes from my travels, old films, different personalities and the time I spent with my family while I lived in Japan during my formative years. My study of tea ceremony, the form and rich hues of flowers, and crazy architecture always get the mind turning as well. Oddly enough, the silliest of items, for instance a blender, can whet my design appetite. Sometimes I have dreams at night about hats so I have a moleskin notebook by my bed to sketch out ideas so I don’t forget them the next morning!
Yes I have, and currently all of my work is bespoke for the client. I make samples to show, but each hat is meticulously crafted by hand for each wearer. Most of the time my clients will add their own personal touches to each piece, whether it be a special feather here or a unique lining there. Custom millinery is exciting for me because I just love when people sport hats. I feel that when I get to know the person I can create a hat that has their name and personality written all over it. Some clients like it simple, and some have a taste for the extreme, I enjoy both ends of the spectrum. Look for my work a top of Gretchen Rossi’s head on the upcoming season of The Real Housewives of Orange County.
Well, I absolutely love Japan where I spent many years as an adolescent and while I was at university. Osaka and Kyoto are my favourite cities. Living in Japan gave me an insane amount of creative freedom when it came to fashion choices and I definitely took advantage of it! In addition, I just adore France – from Paris to Nice and everywhere in-between. The fashion, food, people, architecture and history (especially that of fashion) galvanize my senses! Cid and I also like to take it easy on the beach while on holiday – we love the Mediterranean.
Kitty is my nickname, used mainly by my boyfriend and business partner, Cid Andrews. We put the two names together and voila! Kitty Andrews. I think that it has a timeless feel and hip enough for this day and age.
This is a great question, and yes, after putting all that hard work into each piece, it is hard to let them go, but I just adore my work on top of my fabulous client’s heads. It gives me such a terrific feeling inside knowing that someone is wearing my work and seeing how beautiful they look. A year ago I never would have imagined that I would be doing avant-garde fashion shows and providing hats for celebrities. It is so exciting!
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