Page 138 - The Hunt - Spring 2019
P. 138

                 A graduate of the Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr, Pa., Schiavio grew up around glamorous women, including a Slovenian countess, who loved hats. She spent time working for Philadelphia art- ist Helen Drutt, which further fueled her interest in wearable works of art. Early experiences at the Radnor Hunt Races with her mother also held some sway.
Schiavio’s hats make use of unique and found objects, which are often added to existing frames to create something new. She made her first hat out of buckram, and embellishments range from flowers and feathers to eggshells, maps, salad bowls and even lampshades. “They’re quite out there,” she says with a laugh. “I’ll [use] ink toner [cartridges]—all sorts of things. It’s definitely out-of-the-box thinking.”
In her early years as a milliner, Schiavio
turned more than a few heads with her hats
at Brandywine Polo matches and parties in Philadelphia. Today, her bold, whimsical style draws a certain type of client to Milica in the Hat Millinery, which she founded in 2011. “Not everybody has to like it—it’s eccentric,” she says. “I’ve been around eccentric people.”
Less eccentric but no less stunning are Arey’s intricate designs, which come in an array of
“THE HAT TELLS YOU WHAT IT WANTS TO BE
AS YOU’RE MAKING IT. YOU MAY HAVE SOMEWHERE YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING, BUT
YOUR FINGERS START MOVING
IN A DIFFERENT DIRECTION BECAUSE THE HAT IS TALKING TO YOU.”
Milica Schiavio dons her own chapeau, with hydrangeas and feathers.
elegant, timeless styles—everything from the saucer recently favored by the Duchess of Sussex, to halos, low crowns and fuller rims, to the head- band styles the Duchess of Cambridge has been wearing lately. “I like the smallness of millinery,” says Arey. “I really enjoy taking straw or felt and creating hand-formed shapes. The sculptural, ar- chitectural style is really what I’ve been gravitating toward lately.”
Arey works with materials like sinamay—woven from the processed stalks of the abaca tree—and parasisal straw. “It’s flexible,” she says of the parasi- sal. “It’s a beautiful, finely woven straw that comes from Asia and takes a craftsman weeks to create.”
She also uses felt and embroidered silks for a “more couture look,” sourcing her materials from all over, including Australia and England. “There are so many things that catch my eye, whether it’s something in nature or something manmade,” she says. “I’ll start making notes or a sketch, or grab a quick photograph of something that inspires me that I might want to base a hat on.”
Sometimes, one hat will lead to another. “I usually have so many in the process of being made at one time that I kind of flit from one to the other,” says Arey. “I’ll throw down some materials, and they’ll land next to another project I’m working on, and that inspires another whole idea. It’s a pretty organic process.”
Fabrics, too, are sources of inspiration. “I’m fas- cinated by pattern, texture and movement, wherever it’s found,” Arey says. “Lately, I’ve been mesmerized watching videos of starling murmurations. Finding a way to capture a sense of their beautiful, shifting patterns in a design is my latest quest.”
Schiavio is also inspired by nature, favoring floral designs and felt as a material. A flower lover, she’s planted hundreds of seeds, filling every bit of win- dowsill space. She has also taken up hunting, using feathers from these outdoor forays in her hats.
For both women, hat making is a way to escape the buttoned-up corporate world. Arey works in internal communications at Accenture, a global management consulting and professional services firm; Schiavio is the vice president of business development for the Brandywine Abstract Company in Bryn Mawr. “It’s very freeing,” says Schiavio. “This is really a form of self-expression. I don’t have to conform to anything— other than that it has to balance on the head.”
Millinery has deep roots in fashion history, beginning with its earliest iterations in ancient Europe and Anatolia. More recently, royals have sparked its resurgence. Queen Elizabeth II is rarely
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