Alice Hart Couture
by Mishel Savinkoff
Local Milliner Alisa Horth has been in the hat making industry for fourteen years now. While finishing her degree in Architecture, she decided to earn some extra money by doing something she was innately drawn to and passionate about - hat making. She finished her degree, but followed her passion and never looked back.
Horth has loved hats since her twenty's, so it seemed like a natural progression to move into the 'creator' role. Designing and creating hats isn't a far cry from architecture. There is a parallel in terms of design, texture, spacial composition and materials used. With millinery, the majority of her inspiration comes from experimenting with materials, and seeing how they fit together and play off each other. She also looks to European fashion magazines and the runway shows of London milliners.
Only the highest quality materials are chosen. Horth uses felt made of several furs from rabbit to beaver in the fall and Parasisal straws in the spring. Everything is imported into Canada, predominantly from Czechoslovakia and the U.S. There are also trade materials such as wire and buckram, veiling, silk, satin, velvet and a lot of feathers. Being a couture milliner, she hand forms all her own designs which allows them to be more individualistic and not 'boxed in' by any limitations.
About a year ago, Horth decided she wanted to re-brand her business and move into the couture side of millinery. Hoping to refresh her business she changed the name Alice Hart Couture Millinery and began working from home, creating more one of a kind pieces and selling online. She makes a lot of big, brimmed hats for women viewing horse racing at Ascot, the Kentucky Derby and in Dubai. Julie Newmar, the original Catwoman, is on her list of customers, as is Oprah. Horth took the liberty of sending a large red velvet hat with roses to the icon and received a letter of thanks from Oprah herself.
Drawing her inspiration from the mystery, romanticism and texture of the 1920's and 30's enables Horth to design anything from cocktail and costume pieces to Mother-of-the-Bride hats. This versatility has sparked collaborations. She has created showpieces for Girlie Pin-Up (including feather wings worn on the head and feather top hats) and designed hats to accompany clothing made by local designers Alice In Wonderland and Blushing. To date one of her largest and favorite projects remains with long time retailer Edie Hats on Granville Island. Edie approached her to create a line of hats, all inspired by the Titanic, for a special event. Horth was given free range and full creative control, a trust that is rare in a custom based industry. The Titanic line consisted of huge brimmed picture hats with bows, feathers and roses.
Voted Vancouver Magazine's 'Best Hats' last year, Horth still sees more in her future, perhaps a move to Australia or London. She would love to see people take risks with fashion and not be afraid to bring back the wearing of hats on an everyday basis. She loves the idea that hats have a "fantastical" quality to them and that putting them on allows one to step into a persona and play a part, entering into a different world. Welcome to her world!
Alice Hart Couture Millinery can be found exclusively at Edie Hats on Granville Island or on-line at Alicehart.com.