I cut my own bangs when I was around six years old with my mom’s fabric scissors. Needless to say it was a hot mess, but I liked reconfiguring things. I also enjoyed the rush that cutting gave me. It was a final action, hopefully, of mindful deliberation to follow through with a choice that could not be changed. It was my cliff jump, if you will. Somewhere around that time I was making my own paper dolls and designing their clothes. Paper and pencils that she brought home from work were my treats. I’d sit for hours drawing figures, carefully tracing clothes on top of them and positioning the hanger tabs so as not to show when the dolls were dressed. It was only when she realized that I was using THOSE scissors that I learned the difference between fabric scissors and paper scissors. Each has a special purpose. Crayons were my paint brushes. Prints, stripes and plaids created with them were later replaced with markers, ink and guache in fashion design school. Paper scissors still had their place, but now an arsenal of options allowed me to bring designs on paper to life. I am now able to take those ideas from conception to their end result. Creativity gives me immense joy and comfort and that was especially so during the height of the pandemic last year. When much of my life was a guessing game, I was able to channel my energy into using the most important tools I had in the box; imagination and scissors. I think that by continuing to create my happiness through making beautiful, fun, fierce hats showed my clients that there are ways to persevere through struggles by channeling into what makes them happy, too. Developing paper patterns for the perfect fit, now for people, cutting through fabric with precision and the proper scissors to craft a hat that someone will love is how I create my happiness. I create for others.
I’ve been making hats since 2003, but officially launched my brand LisaMcFadden Millinery almost seven years ago. Working out of my Bronx, NY studio, I fuse contemporary style with vintage inspiration. LisaMcFadden Millinery headwear is handcrafted in-house twice a year with bespoke options available year round. These capsule collections are small groups of hats and headpieces fashioned to compliment those very special occasions and are cherished by hat lovers. I use a variety of fabric and unexpected materials in my designs. I like to think of them as confections. Beautiful on the inside and out.
Here, I’ll share the journey of the Rose Hat. I made this headpiece for the very first Easter Parade in New York City I attended as a new millinery member of the Milliners Guild. We met on 5th Ave, joined arms and took a stroll just like the musical with Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. It was amazing! We barely took two steps forward before we were stopped by a crowd of photographers and tourists in town to see all the wonderful creations atop everyone’s head. I had to make a splash so I went for a super wide brim fascinator. The Rose is made of applique fabric, buckram, interfacing, netting, a blocked button crown and wire. The crown and brim are hand stitched together only after carefully snipping around the opening so that all the layers could smoothly turn into the crown. I love working with fabric because it requires patternmaking skills as opposed to blocking (molding material over a form). Visualizing the finished hat and mathematically calculating how a flat pattern will perform 3-dimensionally is more challenging in my opinion and a lot more exciting when it works out. In this image the crown has been joined to the brim. Netting has been cut, shirred and evenly distributed all around on what I call the ‘belly’ of the brim. The hat flips up in the back so you can see the detail from that angle. The front dips dramatically over one eye for excessive drama, and why not? Drama is one purpose for a hat :), but more importantly, it’s happiness. The Rose got all the attention she deserved and brought me serendipitously together with a new friend and wonderful photographer Victor Mirontschuk who captured my excitement of the day in his shots for National Geographic Sureshot. See the finished Rose Hat on my website’s press page https://www.lisamcfadden.com/about-1/press/ . I hope it will bring a smile to your face as it did mine and the folks at the Easter Parade.