As a fashion major at Ray-Vogue College of Design (Chicago, Illinois), Loreta Corsetti trained in couture methods and technique. After graduation, serendipity lead her first to design bridal headpieces for Lazzaro at The Ultimate Bride, then to become head milliner for a specialty shop. In a matter of months, she was running the atelier. Drawn to independence, Corsetti left to open a vintage clothing boutique. When hats created primarily to decorate the space flew out the door, she cast her fate with millinery design. Within two years, her collection was being carried by Nordstrom’s and Henri Bendel.
“I’m greatly influenced by master couturiers like Madeline Vionnet, who pioneered the bias cut and Madame Gres for her micro pin tucking. Both were extraordinary drapers and each, with their unparalleled skill and innovation inspired me to think differently about creating shape and texture in my work. They also taught me how to create illusion in a piece. Elsa Schiaparelli showed me that the absurd can be wonderful. Balenciaga and Christian Dior gave me an invaluable appreciation for the beauty of precision tailoring. Yves St. Laurent taught me to look to the streets for inspiration and from Alexander McQueen I realized that madness and awe sometimes go hand in hand.”
Corsetti creates hats like a fine architect envisions buildings as much as in the way her fashion “mentors” designed apparel. She approaches structure and silhouette as a sculptor, materials and color as an artist. Her sense of embellishment seems touched both by the Belle Epoch and the smart whimsy of Cecil Beaton. “Even the absurd can be wonderful.” Corsetti has, in spades, the integrity of a dedicated artisan, the imagination of a true original, and a courage of conviction she describes as “not only more peaceful but, in the end, more profitable.”
To own a Corsetti chapeau as do such as Linda Fargo (Senior Vice President of the Fashion Office and Store Presentation at Bergdorf Goodman), Daphne Guinness (fashion collector and icon), and Shannon Hoey (Stylist and owner of New York Vintage), one must “have no problem expressing herself.” A great sense of style and occasion as well as good posture seem equally fitting.
Every unique model is designed and sewn by the artist with a single assistant. Though unusual appliqués, buckles, antique and vintage trims are purchased, most, as well as twist and fold, beading, feather sprays, piercing, glass veils and fringe, are hand executed. Silk and leather flowers are configured with old-fashioned brass iron presses. Only the highest quality materials are utilized. Felts are fur felts, beaver is Dutchess Beaver, a silk/angora/ beaver fur blend with a very small percentage of wool.
Hat bands are adjustable. If a piece is custom (normally 3-4 weeks in the making except prior to Ascot or The Kentucky Derby), Corsetti will request you measure your head. “I’ve never had a situation where something didn’t fit.” Aware of the importance of details, she coordinates band and comb colors on fascinators to a woman’s hair color. Models can be purchased from the web site, but nothing is exactly replicated. If an original has been sold, you may expect something similar. This provides opportunity for input should the hat be meant for a particular suit, dress, or coat. Some clients send photographs and/or fabric swatches. Many are collectors. Prices range from $450 to the thousands.
Since 2005, Loreta Corsetti Couture Millinery has maintained a European style salon in Chicago. Beautiful black and white hat boxes house every creation. Hours are long, but Corsetti remains impassioned. Not the least interested in a manufactured line “I want to keep it pure,” her greatest wish is to do fewer shows leaving more time to concentrate on fewer hats.
Opening Photo: Loreta is wearing the custom designed “Bellezza del Sole” with a hand-crafted glass veil. $795.00
Hats 1 & 2:
“Capri Chic”- Aqua Italian linen cap with eggshell cotton lace overlay, feather spears and sprays, hand marbled feathers, silk roses, glass, crystal, metal and dyed jasper brooch appliques. $525.00
“Palm Beach Social” Bright yellow/gold lame half moon cap, hand beaded with crystals and glass with sprays of feathers, silk lily of the valley, and gold glass. French cotton roses and veil. $495.00
Hats 3 & 4
“Follie” Black/ White plaited Italian straw perch with silk flowers and bud sprays and curled horsehair atop a wire silk covered frame. $ 695.00
“Tuscan Rose” Sinemay rose and buds with silk picot ribbon in cassis, French veil bow. $525.00
Hats 4, 5, 6 Left to Right
“Top it” White silk top hat covered with black dotted mesh, white glass and crystal band, hot pink cotton French flowers, horsehair and feather trim. $525.00
“Calliope” Natural straw/silk blend whimsical perch with Swiss straw flowers and stripes. $695.00
“Gaite Parisienne”- Italian plaited sapphire straw bubble with crystal and glass hand beaded brooch applique. French silk lace and dotted veiling, silk and velvet leaves, large cerise silk rose and dyed, curled peacock feather. $ 550.00