Jill Courtemanche Millinery

Horse Racing

Kentucky Derby 2017

Horse Racing, FashionJill CourtemancheComment

Hands down, the Kentucky Derby is the busiest time of year here at JCM but also the most exciting! I love making custom pieces and challenging myself to create hats that enhance clients fashion choices while staying true to my design esthetic.

I thought it could be fun to share some pictures and behind the scenes from the lead up to Derby Day or as I like to think of it, the kick off the American Horse Racing Season (it's a long road to Breeder's Cup in November)! 

First we started out doing a fun collaboration with Lou What Wear, a fashion blog based in Louisville. I sent Danielle some hats and she mixed them with her fashion sensibilities to create a series of posts that really enhanced the hats and generated some beautiful photos which you can see below. She also did a nice interview with me that you can read here

Next up I did another collaboration with San Antonio Fashion Blogger and Stylist Kimberly Frick. I have followed Kimberly on social media for a while and inspired by her bright and playful style, I created a special, limited edition collection. We were both excited by the pieces and decided to hold an Instagram contest where we gave away a fascinator for Derby! See Kimberly modeling her hat as well as out Instagram winner, Ashley Grace Johnson of  Texas Fashion Spot in her fascinator on Derby Day below!

The best part of the madness is always seeing clients dressed and ready to go on Derby Day! Wether it is a Derby Party or direct from the track for the Kentucky Oaks or the Kentucky Derby the pictures never disappoint and I love seeing the complete outfits! A huge thank you to everyone who sent me pictures, they really do make me smile!

This year I spent Derby Day at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa where I had the pleasure of assisting women decorate hats for a Kentucky Derby themed party. It was a really fun event that was beautifully decorated with all best "Run for the Roses" details!   

Time to start thinking about next year...


JCMillinery + YELP

Solana Beach, Collaborations, Horse RacingJill CourtemancheComment

Truth be told, I love hosting parties. The prep and the planning, the details and jushing, it's kind of a happy place for me. So when Yelp North County called and asked if I would like to collaborate with them on a special girls night out in my shop to celebrate the opening of the Del Mar Racetrack (otherwise know as the official start to hat season), I was totally in! 

First, we decided to break the event into two nights so we could create a more intimate setting and give each elite Yelper a chance to work with me and create a fun, feathered headband as a keepsake. Secondly, we called some of my favorite local vendors and asked them if they would like to join in the fun (which thankfully they did)! Last but not least, we called in a photographer to capture all the magic. 

Scroll through the pictures and see how we transformed the Solana Beach JCM shop and parking lot into a fabulous event space. I love how much fun all of these amazing women had playing dress up for the evening, and I think it is safe to say we all had a blast celebrating the racing season here in the Cedros Design District


A huge THANK YOU to our friends at Camera Camper for providing the most amazing photo booth experience ever, (I mean oh so SoCal and oh so fabulous), Lockwood Table for providing delectable nibbles for the evening, Bang Pop Shop for blowing my mind with the most couture cake pops ever (I mean those cake pops are wearing fascinators) and of course to the amazing team at Yelp for bringing the whole thing to life! 

Adventures in Louisville

Travel, Horse Racing, FashionJill CourtemancheComment

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of traveling to Louisville, Kentucky to showcase my hats at some pre-Kentucky Derby shopping events. This was my first time in Louisville and I can tell you, this is one charming city!

Much to my dismay it was snowing when I arrived and when I drove into town I was surprised to find it deserted. Wondering what I had gotten myself into, I headed to the recently opened hotel bar, Eight Up for diner and found the snowy night had brought out the best of southern hospitality. In between the delicious lamb bolognese and chatting with the locals I learned the first of 3 amazing things about Louisville, they know how to make a cocktail. My standard cocktail is a French martini and it usually requires some back and forth with a bartender but these guys nailed it, and it looked as great as it tasted.

              Gallopalooza - horse themed street art

              Gallopalooza - horse themed street art

From there I had some free time so I headed over to NuLu, an arts district filled with galleries, small shops and cafes. This is where I learned the second amazing thing about Louisville, they play great music. I am not sure if it was because they needed a boost to get them through the storm or that's just how they roll but every place I went was playing great music and always just a touch too loud so you could really feel it. A few places I would recommend checking out: Please & Thank You, Scout and The Green Building.

My last stop was at a great antique market down the road, Crazy Daisy. I found some amazing vintage iron shoe lasts which I bought to repurpose as display fixtures in the shop.

                      The French Martini at Eight Up

                      The French Martini at Eight Up

The next morning I was up bright and early to do a segment on WHAS for Great Day Live all about hat trends and what's hot for Derby Season. It was so much fun and once again everyone was so lovely! You can watch the segment here.

While I was there I couldn't resist popping one of my hats on their Gallopalooza horse. I am a sucker for street art, and these fantastic horses were all over the city. Their bright colors and bold designs definitely stood out against the snowy backdrop and gave the city some much needed spring color.

That evening I was delighted to be a vendor at the Wine, Women and Shoes event at The Henry Clay benefiting Family Scholar House. Everyone was dressed to the nines, incredibly charming and clearly out to have a good time. It was a great evening for a great cause and I am so happy they invited me to be a part of it!

On Sunday I did a trunk show with the amazing ladies at Clodhoppers. I couldn't believe it when I found out that Louisville does not have a major department store, this seemed impossible to me but I quickly came to realize that with stores like Clodhoppers, they don't need one. This boutique is filled with great designers like Milly, Alice & Olivia and Mara Hoffman and the ladies really know their stuff. It was really fun to watch them style clients in great looks for Derby and then turn them over to me to create a custom hat to match. I am thrilled to be working with these ladies and thrilled that they will be carrying my hats and fascinators through derby season.

That night was my only night to really go out for a proper diner and the foodie in me had been asking everyone for the two days prior what they thought the best restaurant in town was. The name that kept coming up was Jack Fry's and I can tell you, I was not disappointed. In spite of the crowd, I was lucky to snag a seat at the bar and it was here that I learned the third amazing thing about Louisville, the people are beyond gracious. I shared some great conversation, food and more amazing cocktails with groups of total strangers who love their city. It was a super fun way to end my trip and if you ever find yourself at that bar, the shrimp and grits is heaven.

Royal Ascot 2014

Royal Ascot, Collaborations, Horse RacingJill CourtemancheComment

Earlier this summer I had the pleasure of being invited to be a guest commentator on The Royal Hats Blog for their coverage of Royal Ascot 2014. It was so much fun to channel my inner Joan Rivers and be the voice of the American milliner!

Royal Ascot is an event where hats are the main topic (almost as much as the horse racing itself) and the Royal Family is no exception to the frenzy. They debut new hats each day and these styles help to set the trends in millinery for the next season.

Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, Princess of Jordan, Sheikha of Dubai on Day 3 of Royal Ascot

Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, Princess of Jordan, Sheikha of Dubai on Day 3 of Royal Ascot

If you are a millinery enthusiast like me you will enjoy reading through the links below and perusing the pictures of the Royal Family at their best. It is also really fun to see how our opinions varied on each hat and which ones we liked the best. I loved reading which hats British milliner Katie Vale loved that I cringed at!

Have a read and let me know what you think! xo j-co

Royal Ascot Day 1: The Monarchs

Royal Ascot Day 1: The British Royal Family

Ascot Day 1: The Extended British Royal Family

Ascot Day 2

Ascot Day 3: Ladies’ Day

Ascot Day 4

Ascot Day 5

Tying Up Royal Ascot

The Duchess of Cornwall on the first day of Royal Ascot

The Duchess of Cornwall on the first day of Royal Ascot

Ladies Day is the hot ticket bringing out the most over the top creations and the best of the week. It is such a delight for me to see such amazing fashion and enthusiasm for millinery in one place.

Here at JCM I have the pleasure of creating many hats for Ascot and it is one of my favorite events of the year to design for. Although I make hats for many horse races, Ascot is different in that it has strict dress code that needs to be adhered to for admittance and the event itself is all about the hat (thank you Britain)! That means I get to go all out and dress women in fantasy hats which really bring their outfits to life, and of course this is my favorite part of being a milliner!

Princess Beatrice on Day 5 of Royal Ascot

Princess Beatrice on Day 5 of Royal Ascot