‘This isn’t your grandmother’s hat,’ Local milliner creates hats with a twist

NEW ORLEANS -- With so much technology and equipment, there are very few people who still make clothes and accessories by hand.

However, one local woman is changing the game by hand crafting the ultimate accessory for your head.

Maria Etkind is designing hats the old fashioned way and considers herself to be a milliner.

The term milliner became popular in the mid 1500s in London and described the fashion that came from Milan, Italy.

Over time, the trend has changed and even declined until the royals brought the look back like Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana.

Etkind says the love of hat making all started when she was living in Holland.

She took many classes and fell in love with the unique process.

Now, she runs her own business out of her home in New Orleans using techniques that are over 100 years old and incorporates a few new aged methods as well.

"I work with sinamay which is a hand-woven straw from the Philippines. I use 3 layers. I wet it, and then I block it into the block, whatever shape that is," says Etkind.

Then, she embellishes the hat with different materials like feathers, felt pieces, veiling, quails, and more.

It's a personalized process that helps Etkind work directly with individuals to customize their hats depending on the event, the outfit, and even the time of year.

"Seeing women looking good and knowing that hat was made for them, that it fits them properly, it's amazing. It's as good as like a high-end bag or shoe. You are making those investments, so make an investment on a nice hat," says Etkind.

Etkind says she worked around the clock this Mardi Gras season.

She created hats for the ladies in the Krewe of Iris and for the debutantes who attended the Rex parade.

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