Jill Courtemanche Millinery

Travel

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.

Paris - la deuxiéme partie

TravelJill CourtemancheComment

It only seems fair to share some "behind the scenes" info from my time in Paris! I am a creature of habit and tend to never forget where I had a good meal, (seriously, you can ask Cassie how many times on our trip I said "Oh, right next to that place there is a café with an amazing...", or "I think just around this corner is a pastry shop where I remember having an amazing...". There is no doubt that I can navigate Paris on food memory alone! 

So here are a few of the delicious morsels I ate:

Top row: A ham & cheese omelet at a bistro in the Marais (my first meal on any trip to Paris - always), the religieuse au chocolat at Laduréé, coffee and croissants at Café Flore, A seriously delicious country tartine at Au Petit Suisse, coffee and viennoiserie at Eric Kayser (the pink is a Brioche aux Pralines Roses and it's a must!)

Bottom row: Chicken with morel mushrooms and a caramel soufflé at l'Auberge Bressane, the goat cheese tartine at Le Bouillon, a chicken salad at Cuisine de Bar, and a steak frites at Chez René (get the chocolate mousse - but I should hope that's a given).

A few of my other favorite food stops in Paris: for caramels Fouquet, for a cocktail Ferdi or the bar at Hotel Costes, for grab and go to picnic La Grand Epicerie.

Of course I didn't just eat! I also spent a lot of time just walking around, people watching and exploring. Here are a few of the things that caught my eye:

Top row: Notre Dame at dusk, Pont des Amoureux covered in love locks, flowers at the Hotel Costes flower shop, le tour d'eiffel (and a perfect fall day).

Middle row: In general I just adore vintage cars regardless of the city they're in, lightening in the pyramid of the Louvre, street art, le tour at night.

Bottom row: Street art, the wall of the Concorde métro stop, my favorite fountain in le Jardin des Tuileries (I got engaged here many years ago), and christmas decorations hanging from the cupola of Galeries Lafayette.

I will leave you with a photo from one of the most special moments of this trip! I will let the story of how we got here remain a mystery (although clearly it was happenstance, because if I would have known it was going to happen I surely would have put some bloody make-up on), but we were lucky enough to be escorted into the private apartment of Coco Chanel, at 5 rue Chambon. Just seeing this mirrored staircase, the scene of so much Chanel history was pretty thrilling and the experience was truly something I will never forget. 

Until next year Paris! xo j-co

Fall in Paris

TravelJill CourtemancheComment

Paris is hands down one of my favorite cities! There is nothing like drinking in the food, fashion and culture first hand. I have been lucky enough to spend a fair amount time here over the years and the city holds some of my greatest memories (I got engaged here, it doesn't get better than that). This time around I had the pleasure of making the trip with one of my best friends and fellow milliners Cassie MacGregor from The House of MacGregor in Dallas, Texas.

One of the things that makes a JCM hat a cut above is that I work hard to source the best materials and one of the best places to buy those materials is Paris. There are still many ateliers where gorgeous silk flowers are being made by hand, entire shops dedicated to selling gorgeous ribbons woven in France and basement studios where one can find rabbit fur felt in the most divine, saturated colors. Everything is so beautiful, the colors and textures so rich and the added bonus of working one on one with the women who bring it all to life, it's just such a treat!

On this trip I focused on shopping for an array of beautiful straws and one of a kind trims to make hats for the Kentucky Derby and Opening Day at Del Mar. I filled the coffers with the most gorgeous flowers and feather trims to create stand out hats and to give clients shopping for custom creations an endless selection of options to choose from.

Wander through the pictures below to see some of the treasures I brought home as well at some of the artisans at work creating their beautiful pieces. It was an incredible, fun filled and inspiring trip and one that is sure to have a large impression on the spring / summer collection!

Don't worry, there is more to come on my trip to Paris! In my next post I will share some of my favorite places to eat and shop, because let's face it all work and no play, is no way to spend your time in Paris. xo j-co

Diagon Alley

Fashion, TravelJill CourtemancheComment

In my continued quest to prove you can where a hat anywhere, I whipped myself up a fun little fascinator for a recent whirlwind trip my husband and I took to Orlando for the preview opening of Diagon Alley at Universal Studios.

The invitation called for "evening resort" and this hat / outfit had to be a lot of things since this trip was also my first time meeting my husband's new business colleagues, and the first time my husband and I had been away alone since our daughter was born (no pressure)! I wanted to have a fun night out exploring the world of Harry Potter while staying comfortable, cool and looking cute. And I think I nailed it! 

 A quick Vespa photo before we head to the park.

A quick Vespa photo before we head to the park.

I chose to make a simple fascinator, a smaller version of our popular "Jasmeen" on a headband (perfect for keeping my hair in check in the Florida humidity) that left my face open so I could converse easily. Plus, it was easy to pack for a cross-country flight. I kept it on the petite side so as not to overwhelm the hat-less! I kept the rest of the outfit simple so it all felt effortless, and the best part was I was not the only one in a hat!  A lot of the characters in Diagon Alley had fascinators and hats as part of their ensembles. It turns out the costume designer from the Harry Potter movies, Jany Temime, also designed the costumes for the theme park.

The hat was a hit all the way from Los Angeles to Orlando, to Kings' Crossing to Diagon Alley! 

The complete look: Dress: Calypso St. Barth,  Bag: Jamin Puech, Shoes: Prada, Hat: JCM available by special order