Jill Courtemanche Millinery

millinery

A Millinery Transformation

Fashion, panama straw, summer hatsJill Courtemanche1 Comment
LaPlage.jpg

I always tell people when they buy one of my hats, that they have to wear it and by that I mean to really wear it and take it on adventures far and wide. It's made from quality materials and it will stand up to life. Along with that, I also offer the caveat that if your hat has too much fun on its travels, as sometimes hats will do, just bring it in and in most cases we can revive it, not withstanding a battle scar or two.  

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Here is an example from my own collection. One of my favorite hats for both sun protection and style is the "La Plage". This one is the original production sample that I made 4 years ago. It's traveled all over with me and seen it's fair share of beaches and manhandling by my kids. Like a great pair of jeans, the more I wore it the better it felt and the fraying band and cracks in the straw just gave it a bit of character along the way. But like all good things, her time had come and I could no longer feel good telling people I was a milliner while wearing a hat with a giant hole in it...

The good news is, my beloved hat and I did not have to part ways entirely. She was made from a high quality Panama straw and although the crown of the hat was not reparable, the brim was still supple and in great condition. So, "off with her head", I removed the crown and replaced it with a lovely linen crown and then I added a soft wire and ribbon binding to the edge of the brim. Volia, my beloved "La Plage" transformed herself into my new favorite packable hat, "Voyager"

Click through the gallery below to see the process from start to finish:

Moneygami Hat, it's a thing!

Charity, Collaborations, FashionJill CourtemancheComment
Jill with Leslie Gladstone from Angel's Foster Family Network as pictured in Giving Back Magazine

Jill with Leslie Gladstone from Angel's Foster Family Network as pictured in Giving Back Magazine

There really is nothing better than having someone arrive at your door with an envelope full of money and a request that you make them a hat, out of that money!

I look forward to making a "money hat" for the Gold Diggers Association every year for their annual Hats Off Luncheon in San Diego. In the past I have made flowers and butterflies out of the cash but this year I decided to use the money as the actual hat which made for a fun challenge. 

Scroll through the pictures below to see the process and all of the elements we used to make this moneygami piece as well as the finished product being modeled by a member of the Gold Diggers for the event.

This year I also had the pleasure of attending the event and judging the hats made by the different charities. It was amazing to see some of the showgirl style pieces that were made and even more fun to watch the models present them on the runway!

Behind the Scenes with KPBS

Solana Beach, PressJill CourtemancheComment

If you have spent 5 minutes chatting with me in the shop, you know I love nothing more than to talk about millinery, it's place in fashion and how passionate I am about being able to do something I love. So you can only imagine how excited I was when the lovely Maya Trabulsi, a reporter for KPBS called me and asked if she could do a story about me and my shop (the answer of course is that I was over the moon)!

Maya had lived in London and developed her own fascination with hats so it was really fun for me to spend time with someone who walked in the door, armed with a vast knowledge and appreciation for the craft. We spent the morning chatting about hats, how they are made, my background and what brought me to millinery. One of the most fun parts for me was personifying all of the noises that go on in my studio on a daily basis since they were not just shooting footage but recording for the radio as well, (seriously cool)!

The original piece aired back in July right before Opening Day at Del Mar Racetrack but it is re-airing nationally this Saturday, September 12th on PBS's Spectrum (check you local listings for the channel and air time). Better yet you can view it on-line here but if you do that you miss the amazing teaser that Maya put together which was my favorite part of the piece!

This was such a memorable experience for me. I have done tv before but it has always been live, in studio news segments. This was the first time I had the opportunity to sit down and watch it as a spectator with my family and friends. It truly has been a milestone for me and my career and as always I am thrilled to have a platform to educate people on how amazing millinery is and what it means to me as an artist!

Update: On June 11, 2016, Maya Trabulsi won an Emmy Award for her work this piece, congratulation Maya!

Here are a few behind the scenes pictures from the shoot:

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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.

The Money Hat

Collaborations, Solana Beach, CharityJill CourtemancheComment

For the past two years I have had the pleasure of creating what is known as "The Money Hat" for the annual Gold Diggers, Hats Off Luncheon here in San Diego.

This is a wonderful ladies hat luncheon where local nonprofits compete for grants by making hats which represent a yearly theme and their organization.

It's an all around hatty affair so as you can imagine it's right up my alley! 

For my part, the ladies of the Gold Diggers show up with a handful of cash, $500 to be exact and give me free rein to make any hat I wish using the cash as a trim! This hat is used as a door prize for the most fabulous spectator hat at the luncheon, (now that's a reason to get dressed up). It's such a fun project and one that gives me a chance to forget about function and just have fun with the design.

For last years hat, (pictured above) I made roses out of the cash and for this years hat (pictured below) I made butterflies out of $50 bills. 

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