Monday, November 23, 2009

Hat designer to the nouveau riche

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Hat designer to the nouveau riche

Founder of Elisabeth Koch Millinery, Koch has been developing her business and her brand in Beijing for the past two years. "I started making hats when I got to Beijing," she said. "I used to be a banker and I just remember thinking to myself: 'I gotta leave this banking world and do something I really want to do.'"

Her success can be attested by the prevalence of her hats in top Chinese fashion magazines such as Harper's Bazaar, Vogue and Insider, among others. Famous Chinese film stars have worn them. Zhou Xun and Li Bingbing of recent spy thriller The Message, wore her hats in the film.

Two stores in Beijing stock her hats: Eric Paris in the Kerry Center and Sanlitun Patio, and she has plans to sell them in Shanghai. Last month she held a fashion show at LAN Club that featured hats inspired by everything from local Beijing markets and the serenity of nature, to the intergalactic. Her method is reminiscent of British designer David Shilling's - get yourself noticed. A party-goer to the extent that she was ranked one of Insider magazine's top 100 socialites of 2009, Koch got herself into the Chinese fashion scene by attending parties wearing hats of her own creation.

Her hats are priced between 1,500-4,000 yuan. The reason, she said, is she tailor-makes most of them for clients. "If they want hats covered in pheasant feathers I do it, so those are crazy expensive."

It is too soon to say whether these two foreign milliners will be collaborative or competitive, but it is Koch who knows the market. "I actually have more foreign clients, but they buy fewer hats," she said. While she has fewer Chinese clients, they are prone to buy more. "One Chinese woman, a collector, bought 40 hats at once."

taken from : China Daily

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