As I started my day to her elite and quaint studio found at 99 Van Dam st. room 4E NYC it was a blustery day on the streets of NY. I flagged down my cab and started my journey into the world of Millinery. Arriving a tad early my anticipation was building as I walked up the weathered stairs to the top. There, hung her unique sign describing without words what awaits behind the showroom door.
Her studio small but very impressive, carried various magazine covers such as Vogue, New York Times, W and many editorials. She greeted me kindly and introduced me to her no#1 fan, her adorable dog Sam,(pictured above). I was in awe at all the dainty hats that hung strategically along the walls and presented among many shelves.
All Photos by: S.A. Fiduccia Photography
Exciting life and superb education Ellen then settled in NYC to study at NYU where she opened her prestigious retail store in the section of Chelsie. There, she owned and operated her store for 16 years!
Then in 1995 a stylist named Nicolleta Santora noticed Ellens' hats while passing by her storefront window. Intrigued by her talent she featured her hats on many covers and editorials of magazines such as Italian Vogue, which began many more covers and editorials such as Italian Vogue, Harpers Bazaar and W Magazine .
What is your favorite hat? (I excitedly asked) "Well" She said, "The Sun Hat is my favorite Summer hat and my favorite Winter Hat is the Mrs. Elmer Fudd." (pictured below) a hat made of mink and fox. But her all time favorite hat is the Tri-Come Hat from World War I.
The Mrs. Elmer Fudd Hat! Above.
As the day progressed, I wanted to also point out while i was scrambling to asorb as much knowledge about my idol, she also has three beautiful interns from Paris, France helping her at her studio and learning all about the craft of Millinery and Hat design. Wishing it was me in their shoes, these girls were kind and so brave to come so far to study their craft!! Kudos to the ladies, Douna Hezer, Chloe Parenti and Syko Camara!! (pictured below)
In closing of my interview I eagerly asked, "What happened to the popularity of The Hat? She replied, without haste, "In the era of Jacqueline and John Kennedy, John hated wearing hats and the American society was moving so fast and rushed in there everday life, thus leaving their hats at home. Then there came the fad of the beehive and the bubble hairdos leaving no room on their beautiful head for hats,,,, so sad to say. =(
"So any last advice or words of wisdom on how to wear a hat and which hat is the best for you?" I asked.
"Not every hat is for every head," she replied. "Be cautious in selecting a hat for your shape of face" and "Don't be Afraid to stand out in a crowd!!"
What a wonderful day I had with my photographer Sal Fiduccia spending the afternoon with Ellen Chrisitne was one of the best days of my life!! thank you Ellen Christine!!
(story by Sandy Foley)
You can find out which hat is good for your shape of head on her website www.ellenchristinecouture.com or visit her showroom by appointment only.
Ellen Christine and I at her studio at 99 Van Dam St. rm 4E NYC!