Official milliner of Breeders Cup and the Kentucky Derby. I had the pleasure of meeting Christine A. Moore, originally a theater guru turned hat maker, and a wonderful and talented milliner owning the ‘lost art’ of millinery.
All this millinery talk, but what in the heck is it?
A milliner a person who designs, makes, trims, or sells women’s hat. Millinery is delving in the art of these hats. Tanchis, Honorary Tanchis, and non-tanchis, your not alone – I, too, had no idea and came to discover this world after working with a Degas ‘Milliners’ painting during my days at the J. Paul Getty Museum.
The ‘Milliners’ by Edgar Degas
Degas’ ‘Milliners’ is a beautiful work of art, depicting dramatically angled milliners in their workspace sitting behind shadowed hat stands amongst brightly colored ribbons.
It is no wonder Christine has selected a Degas work of art of milliners to be a mural at the entrance of her studio in the heart of the fashion district in New York City. NYC is a city Christine draws inspiration from and translates into her design.
Just like Degas unveils the private world focused on the physical hardship of the milliners’ work, positioning this at the front of Christine’s studio begins this ‘tanchi adventure,’ unveiling the behind-the-scenes to Christine’s hat making and millinery shop.
Christine started in costume design and apprenticed with Rodney Gordon, Broadway hat maker – minus Donald trump. It’s no wonder Christine’s hats are epic in style, gorgeous in design, and beautifully crafted with unique and quality materials. At times, she even leans towards the provocative! (Gracias to theatre)
I Began to Wonder, What’s Hat Making Got To Do With It?
Why is mastering the art of millinery a common path for the most iconic designs and designers of our time? Take, for instance, this hat Christine made for Patty Ethington, photographed by AP, that circulated wildly!
I posed this question to a fellow tanchi, Raquel, and she said it must be that when making hats, these designers are making headpieces and thinking about the end result to be ‘timeless.’ Raquel got it –their secret sauce. In mastering the art of making timeless pieces, it then translates to their iconic designs. For instance, you see this in the Dior A-line luxurious skirt, and Chanel’s classic tweed jacket. #TanchiTheories
Before the Fashion Houses
There was a Coco before Chanel. In the 2009 ‘Coco Before Chanel’ film about the French designer Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel – the life of Gabrielle is revealed in an inspiring story. Someone who had nothing ended up founding an empire. Part of Coco’s journey entailed selling her hat creations. Here pictured, is when Coco is first introduced to the world of horse racing, as she gazes over the horse track attire of the upper class.
First Exposure to the World of Hats
I love this moment because I, too, felt that marvel the first time I went to ‘Opening Day’ at Del Mar Racetracks. In a previous post, On your mark, get set, Go! To Opening Day in fabulous hat style, I explain how over the years I have upped my hat and dress attire for the occasion. My first ‘Opening Day’ I wore a simple hat. While still classic and pretty, it was nowhere near the level of some of the most luxurious and flamboyant hats you’ll find at the tracks. It is a festive day where forgetting your hat at home, leaves you out of place.
Big Hats are Necessary for America’s Best Racing
As spectacular of a fashion ‘Opening Day’ is, the pinnacle of fashion at the racetracks really takes place at the Kentucky Derby. Christine, however, envisions spreading the fanfare of horse track fashion and lifestyle by showing her hats, fascinators, and fedoras for men at other track events, like Breeders Cup. She believes in changing the view of Breeders Cup, which hasn’t traditionally been the hub stop of such attire, by bringing back the elegance to a fun and laid back experience. This is exactly what we did as style ambassadors for America’s Best Racing by wearing Christine’s hats.
Millinery is Hot
I had the privilege of chatting with Christine while touring her studio. What she does is an incredible art, and it’s no wonder her millinery is highly sought after for these events. Bo Derrick, JLo, Halle Berry, Alica Keys, Mary J. Blige, Blake Lively of Gossip Girl are just some of the celebrities that have worn her hats. Bazaar, Vanity Fair, and InStyle are among the magazines in which she’s been featured. Puchica! (Salvadoran caliche for Wow).
Inside Christine A. Moore’s Millinery
Christine demonstrated how she begins her process for designing a piece. Here is a clip of her sketching a design that will later be worked on by her and her team of artists and then to Blake, her husband, for marketing.
When walking into the studio, picture a dream closet for hats – an array of hats each elegant, unique, stylish and comfortable! It’s so nice to have a sized hat and not have it fall on your face at the mere movement of your head! I tried on several hats and fascinators and, let me tell you, I have no idea how Christine picks out a hat to wear for the big days!
The materials are just as much a marvel: so many ribbons, trims, tools, bases, etc., like an old millinery shop from Degas’ days. Christine is notably known for using her own trims on hats – none of that Michael’s craft store ish, this is the finer stuff in life, like Godiva. Were talking very very Caché (classy)!
Tanchi Problems: Leave petiteness and panza out of this one
This tanchi had to keep it classy for the big day and couldn’t afford to have any tanchi problems get in the way! For once though I had an unrelated petite and panza problem: a problem of being an indecisive tanchi who couldn’t decide whether to wear fascinator or hat? Trim, netting, bling, feathers? So many options, but I left the design in Christine’s hands after showing her my Lulu*s Honey Punch, That’s a Wrap Neon Yellow Wrap Dress. She measured my head and the wheels began turning for how she could make this tanchi the most bella ever for the big day. You can bet it was the best decision to leave the master milliner with the responsibility for curating the perfect headwear. It is an admirable technique for any tanchi to emulate. After all, curating is the way of the tanchi.
Behold my ‘Savanah’ hat worn to Breeders Cup, courtesy of Christine A. Moore, along with other L.A. Fashion Bloggers. Que Bella! The hat entails beautiful purple palette ranging from darks to lights with such delicate fabric selection for the flower petals. Each petal varies in sheer to opaque fabrics and is seamed and pressed for a crisp, yet delicate look. I wore the hat like a powerful petite, strutting my hat at the racetracks, showing it and owning it — just the way Christine does with her millinery. Did I mention it had bling on top? Love!
Check out more of Christine’s hats in this video, to see what other styles L.A. Fashion Bloggers wore to Lulu*s At The Races.
Video by Richard Alexander Media
Breeder’s Cup has come to an End
Thanks to Christina A. Moore for the exclusive behind-the-scenes look into her studio and art of millinery. That’s a wrap for this tanchi’s track talk and hat attire, till next thoroughbred race season! It has been a wonderful adventure uncovering the art of millinery and getting to spend time with such an artist like Christine A. Moore. For ‘old fashion’, unique and beautiful fashion – be sure to check out Christine’s collection for your hat needs! She’s got various price points available. Stay tuned for more NYC coverage.