Have you ever met a milliner? Do you know what this word mean? Some of my friends never heard about millinery in their life. I guess that it is quite common if you are not into fashion and never heard of Vivienne Westwood or Philip Treacy.
When Vanja Jocic contacted me at the end of last year and offered to make me a couture felt hat, I was very happy. I had been on a lookout for a classic fedora felt hat for some time. But I never found a piece that would be original, unique and of a premium quality. You can find cheap hats online and in department stores but those are made on assembly lines. I was looking for a hat that would last for years. I did not want to get the same hat that half of Geneva was wearing nor pay a lot of money for a hat that looks unique but is not handcrafted.
Vanja Jocic is a young Australian lady that learned the art of couture millinery from famous milliner Prudence who makes hats for Viviene Westwood, Balenciaga and other famous designers. Vanja uses traditional milliner’s blocks and tools as well as high quality fur felts to create hats. While sheep’s wool is used to make more affordable felt hats, Vanja uses felt of the highest quality which is made of cashmere, hare, beaver or rabbit fur. Fur felt is supple, tight and has a beautiful shine. So it is no surprise that hats made of fur felt hold shape better and last longer.
We visited Vanja’s home atelier to document the process of making my hat. Can you believe that it takes 3 days to make one hat? After we chose color and ribbon, Vanja shaped crown of the hat on a wooden block. That took one day. Shaping and cutting the brim took another day. Than she had to sew them together by hand and add the ribbon. If your head is oversized (like mine), Vanja has to stretch the hat on a stretcher. Which adds more time as it is a delicate process. Hatmaking can be compared to meditation. You are invited to calm down your thoughts and concentrate on what is right in front of you.
What I liked the most about the whole process was how personal it was. You really get “your own unique hat”. The best way to reach Vanja is through her Instagram account @byvanjajocic as her website is under construction. Her couture hats start at CHF195. Please, bear in mind that the price depends on the type of hat you wish to create, material and size of your head.