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    When Jenny Pfanenstiel first started making annual trips to Louisville to sell hats for the derby, she met a town she fell in love with. Five years after her first journey down from Chicago, and now she’s here to stay, along with her business

    Formé Millinery

    . “In Chicago I was sold in quite a few boutiques, and I did custom orders all the time,” she told me, “but I didn’t have a storefront like I do here in Louisville.”

    Located in the Mellwood Art Center, Pfanenstiel has definitely been keeping busy since arriving in March. She churns out a countless number of hats for the Derby (the ordering season for Derby hats starts around March, she says), and has been readying her extensive winter collection as well. Not only that, but she’s recently partnered with McCall’s pattern company to create a

    flat hat pattern

    and is currently working on a second. She also just finished writing her first book about millinery practice, including several how-to’s and projects that will be out next June. In short, Pfanenstiel is a busy person.

    Originally attending school for costume design, Pfanenstiel was almost certain that she was in it for the long haul. “I met a milliner from New York and learned the process, and I’ve been doing it for seven years now,” she says. While building her creative career, she also worked in sales, a role she was glad to have. “I was able to work from home, so I could spend time getting hats made while also selling - it was great.”

    Her work spans a wide range of styles and purposes. Her derby collection is incredibly impressive, and all done by hand. “I shape all the feathers and ribbons myself,” she says, “I don’t buy anything pre-made.” She also hand stitches everything - no glue or other cheap tricks with these hats. “It can take around four days a hat since I do everything traditionally,” she explained.

    Pfanenstiel presses her hats out of wool felt, uses silk abaca, and other materials to weave some amazing creations with an incredibly variety of styles. Not only does she make custom hats, but she sells a wide variety of styles that are ready-to-wear, including men’s hats and hats designed for hair loss.

    Pfanenstiel also stays busy doing a wide variety of

    workshops

    throughout the year in Louisville and Chicago. They cover a variety of topics and hat styles, so if you’re interested in learning from one of the best you should definitely check her schedule out.

    If her incredible talent and wide range of products isn’t enough, she’s also made hats for the likes of Michelle Obama, Oprah, and

    Barbara Corcoran

    from Shark Tank. She’s been published in Vogue, Tatler, has won a variety of awards, and sells hats all over the world. In short, she’s a star in the hat world, and she’s right here in Louisville.

     

    Photos courtesy of Formé Millinery

    Brandon Vigliarolo's picture

    About Brandon Vigliarolo

    Brandon is a Michigan transplant, and has been working as a freelance writer since he arrived. He lives with his Girlfriend Hannah, Pico and Marionette the cats, and Marley the awkward greyhound.

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