«It is like drawing with a pen in a three-dimensional sheet. The hat is born from a vision»: in Milan, a hat brand that abides to the ancient techniques of millinery
Lampoon talks to Ilariusss
My passion for the world of hats exploded in Berlin, where I moved at the age of twenty-two shortly after graduating in Visual Arts from Brera Academy in Milan. My need as a creator came from the need to fill a great sense of inadequacy in the world – I saw silhouettes in everything around me, from objects to architecture and people, and I poured them into the creation of sculptural hats. In Berlin, I worked with well-known hatter Fiona Bennett, who introduced me to this world. After a master’s degree in fashion design, collaborations with several fashion houses and theatre tailors, at the age of thirty I moved back to Milan and officially started my personal project: Ilariusss. Our brand makes hats only on commission and abiding by the rules of the ancient techniques of millinery. Every year we launch a collection realized with precious materials and nonconformist shapes, where the items are chosen by artists, singers, and performers. Our company also makes sculptural headdresses, wigs and store-window props for many fashion houses including Gucci, Fendi, Versace Atelier, Max Mara and Missoni.
Ilaria Soncini and Gemma Vernó
Four years ago, I was so lucky as to meet the person I’ve always looked for, someone who completed my work – her name is Gemma, and she is the other half to my whole. We use a wide range of materials and employ different techniques, so naming my favorite is not easy. My work is all about the variety in the designs, the craftsmanship and the extraordinary characteristics that the existing fabrics and supports have. Every project we work on is a gamble and very often we throw ourselves into herculean enterprises, both in terms of material recovery and technical process. We have a bottomless thirst for learning new techniques, experimenting how materials react and researching ingenious solutions and alternatives. If I had to choose just one material, I would choose metal wire because with it I delineate spaces and create perimeters of sculptural objects – it is like drawing with a pen in a three-dimensional sheet. The hat is born from a vision.
How to make a hat
What helps us is the constant search for knowledge of new working tools, because they stimulate our curiosity and tempt us to try and do. The project usually starts as a sketch that anchors the idea, then I would say I’m enthralled by a process that is difficult to explain. I don’t have a precise technique, I let myself be guided by my intuition and I know how to create beauty. My hands approach a lot of materials and my eyes decide whether or not their union can go well. Our ideas come from what excites us, what makes us fall in love, what intrigues us. Inspirations can come from admiring an antique wrought iron gate, or watching a fisherman unraveling a fishing net, or looking at a photograph of Diane Arbus. We live in a world that perpetually inspires our imagination, it is up to us to decide to look at it while keeping our eyes and mind open. The hats I am most excited about are the geometric ones. My picks would be those in the shape of heart, mouth, and star. They have been successful among customers and have given an iconic image to our brand over time. Each piece is a realization of our vision, antique and surreal, far removed from commercial conditioning and limitations. Ilariusss is a reality that speaks of an ancient and sometimes absurd world that amuses, surprises and sublimes.
Ilariusss – hat brand
Creating ideas and conceiving creations: this aspiration ties Ilaria and Gemma. In 2016 they meet, Gemma from London and Ilaria from Berlin. After two years they start their collaboration in the name of research, with a manufacturing awareness and driven by the desire to express their individuality. A shared passion for theatre and for the show business leads them to the creation of scenographic collections, an example of their approach to the very concept of headgear. The common spirit of two minds becomes Ilariusss.