A little over two years ago, Kimberly Andert was making runway-ready gowns for wearable art shows, which took 3 to 6 months to finish. These dresses were sewn in petite model sizes. “I ended up with a closet full of elaborate pieces I couldn’t sell,” she explains. After taking a business class for female artists, Adert began to focus her line.
“Once I realized I could keep all of the aspects of making conceptual wearable art, but on a smaller scale, hats and headdresses seemed a natural step forward in my work. The best part, though, is that I really do love making hats, and the headdresses really feed my love of doing more theatrical pieces.”
Here’s a bit about the inspiration that went into making her Vintage Lace Top Hat.
How would you describe your creative style?
My work always has a vintage look or feel; romantic, feminine, a bit bohemian.
Which materials do you like?
Silk is my favorite fabric to work with, and most of my hats start out with it as a base fabric. I’m also quite addicted to glitter! I use it liberally for all of the headdresses. I also use all of the things you would associate with a sewing studio, as well as jewelry tools, too.
What inspires you?
My first love has always been historic costume and vintage clothing. I grew up watching all of those lovely MGM musicals, and the glamour and sparkle was mesmerizing. I also find a lot of inspiration in nature, which is why most of my pieces feature florals. When it comes to an individual piece, I’m usually inspired by a piece of fabric (such as on the vintage top hat) or odd embellishment (like the peacock on the headdress).
What inspired you start your own business?
I was doing a lot of commission work, mostly bridal. It was stressful and creatively unfulfilling. I decided to work on a gown, just for the joy of creating. I was encouraged to enter it in an art show; it was accepted. That was the start of making wearable art for me. I really didn’t ever think about it being a business, in the traditional sense, until I took the class. I was much more interested in the creating; I didn’t see what I was doing as a proper business. Since I started focusing just on headwear, that has changed.
Do you wear your hats around town, and if so, what are the most interesting comments or reactions you get?
I don’t wear them around town, since most of them are a bit over the top! I always wear one when I do shows, so shoppers can see they’re not all huge statement pieces. People find them very beautiful, but most react “Where would you wear something like that?” or “I don’t look good in hats.” It’s a pretty typical reaction to hats in the U.S. We no longer have a culture of hat wearing, except for cold weather or Halloween. I’ve been told on multiple occasions “Well, you can get away with wearing a hat, artists are weirdos.” It is just people’s discomfort with anything that makes you stand out, I think.
What are some of the most unusual requests you’ve received for custom designs?
So far, I have just been selling my own unusual designs! I do take custom orders though because not everyone wants a peacock or bird skull on their head!