Published in Plaid Magazine Online, September 2011
Photos provided by Lilliput Hats
With the buzz of royal wedding fashion spreading over the last few months, one item stole the spotlight time and again, bringing mounds of attention to one elegant and indispensable accessory – the hat. Prada paraded oversized sunhats down the runway for summer, and fall just begs for an equally smart touch to pull your look together.
Karyn Gingras, owner of Lilliput Hats, works to ensure that this glamourous luxury is available to everyone, all the time. Her College Street store opened in 1988 after she stumbled across a millinery course the year before (the tap dancing class she intended to take was full).
Her love of old movies, Hollywood glamour, and collecting vintage pieces inspired her to try something new. She holds the style of the 20s and 30s in high esteem for hat craftsmanship, and also adores the small sculptural pieces designed by Elsa Schiaparelli from the 1940s. Exuding individualism and reveling in attention to detail, a Lilliput hat adds the right amount of oomph to any outfit.
Gingras is renowned for her custom designs, crafted on-site in the shop, and is a favourite to stars like Celine Dion. Explaining her collaborative experience with some clients: “Most people are not visual, you have to build a trust and rapport, so they feel like their look is safe in your capable and expert hands. It is a fun process…it can be a joyful celebration, like a wedding, horse race, bar mitzvah or a totally impulsive, fun extravagance!”
Lilliput’s pieces are categorized by type: Casual, couture, classic, cocktail, vintage, and romantic, and are individually named after something special, whether it be a longtime client, a literary character, or the feeling it evokes when worn.
Gingras uses her collection of vintage wooden hat blocks to construct her designs, experiments with new and traditional materials to create a range of options for customers, and reinterprets classic shapes to create that perfect show-stopping piece.
The irresistibility of a Lilliput Hats design is evident in this memory. “Once, at the opera, I was wearing a spectacular hat that I had just made that day to go with my outfit,” Gingras recalls. “A woman sitting behind me wanted to buy it but she only had $100 cash, so she gave me two tickets to a hot Stratford play as well, and bought the hat right off my head.”
Gingras shares her talent with the world in other ways, teaching at the International Academy of Design, Ryerson University, and the Haliburton School of the Arts. Her designs are sold in stores including Holt Renfrew, have graced displays for M.A.C Cosmetics, and have been featured in numerous theatre and film productions.
For Fall 2011, Gingras reveals that “the fedora, both structured and unstructured, in delicious jewel tones are [a] strong [trend], as well as the cloche, and of course the fascinator continues its crazy popularity.”
From vintage vibes to modern moments, your every whim is instantly indulged when you try on a Lilliput style. With so many to choose from, you’ll feel royally spoiled with every trip to the shop.
Lilliput Hats, 462 College Street, Toronto