Which princess, old or young, doesn’t want her own one-of-a-kind crown?
If the mom or teen in your life wants to celebrate her birthday in a fun and creative environment, then Milliner Elisabeth Koch’s hat-making parties could be just the ticket.
Koch, who holds dual Dutch and American citizenship, has been mad about hats since she was a little girl; she says she was always up to her elbows in sketches or making her headwear designs come to life. After training at the Wombourne School of Millinery in the UK, she lived in the US, Europe, and other parts of Asia before moving to Beijing.
The hat-making workshop starts with an invitation for participants to choose a hat or fascinator from Koch’s treasure trove of creations. There are literally one hundred hats of every shape and color, which guests are free to try on. No two hats are the same; you may find yourself donning something that has topped the head of a celebrity or print model. In the past, Koch’s creations have been commissioned for fashion shoots, movies, weddings, and horse races.
Guests get to play dress-up, admire themselves of the mirror, and pose for photos. The banter at Koch’s hat-making parties is light and easy; even the shyest of the women gets caught up in trying on hat after hat. Koch herself makes a charming model and regales participants with the stories behind each piece.
Once the workshop begins in earnest, materials are spread on the table for participants to choose from. Mainstays include ribbons, baubles, and sinamay, a tropical fabric that resembles a starchy organza. The women must decide on a color scheme and come up with an idea for a design, then get busy with needle and thread to make their own fascinator.
Don’t worry if you’re all thumbs and are prone to making a pin cushion out of your own fingers; the initial assembly can be done with fabric glue, and Koch and her assistant are around to help out less dexterous sewers. Between chatting and working on your project, time flies and before long it’s time to show off your finished fascinator. A second round of photos is mandatory as each guest models her own creation.
Koch’s workshops are best-suited to moms and girls (and fabulous boys) 11 and up. She can take groups of six to 12 people (six minimum). Though knowledge of sewing isn’t essential, basic needle-work skills will help you finish the work faster. The workshop costs RMB 500 and lasts three hours, all materials included. Pre-booking is essential. For a more authentic tea party feel, Koch can provide nibbles from Comptoirs de France for an additional RMB 50 per person. Alternatively, speak to her about bringing your own food and what kind of snacks would be most appropriate for the hat-making workshop.
Elisabeth Koch Millinery
Rm 204, Bldg D Clubhouse, Gloria Gardens, Xingfucun Zhonglu, Chaoyang District (English: 139 1043 1832, email@example.com) 朝阳区幸福村中路锦绣公园寓D座204
This article originally appeared on page 20-21 of the beijingkids June 2015 issue. Click here to read the issue for free on Issuu.com. To find out how you can get your own copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos: Dana Cosio-Mercado