Loreta Corsetti

The Milliner

Loreta Corsetti has a passion for the past, everything from the Italian Renaissance to the innovative age of Art Deco, she takes her inspiration from the obvious to the obscure and occasionally from the absurd. By applying these aesthetics to her lavish line of chapeaux, Corsetti has built and tailored her millinery business to appeal to both art lover and hat connoisseur alike.

With a background in fine art, Miss Corsetti studied fashion design and was trained in “Haute Couture”, a French term meaning high sewing. She took a semester of millinery and with techniques similar to sculpture, she fell in love with the craft.

Following college, she began her career by designing bridal headpieces for The Ultimate Bride until she was hired by a local hat shop owner as head milliner.  Within three months, she was running the shop but longed for a place of her own.

In 1989, Loreta opened a boutique featuring rare, vintage apparel along with her own label couture pieces.  Almost immediately, she noticed that her clientele were drawn to the hats she made mostly to adorn the shop.  Recognizing the demand, she decided to streamline her business by converting retail to wholesale and focusing solely on millinery.  Two years later, Loreta was selling her collections to some of the finest boutiques in the city.  A year later, to Nordstroms and Henri Bendel.

The designer is known for her unequaled adornment and exquisite craftsmanship, utilizing Old World techniques and the finest materials to produce novel, avant-garde shapes.  Embellishment, her strength, is the essential element in all her work and sets it apart from others.  When creating a chapeau, Loreta incorporates the antique and vintage trims gathered from markets and vendors she visits in London, Paris and Florence with her own detailing. By hand, she constructs her own intricately beaded appliques, cuts, curls and assembles feather sprays and makes a variety of silk and leather flowers by using brass iron presses purchased on Portobello Road.  Merging the past with the present is her way of preserving the art form but Miss Corsetti  finds that embracing experimental ideas is the key to her success.

In November of 2005, Loreta Corsetti opened her millinery atelier in Chicago’s Gold Coast.  She wanted to create an atmosphere where women could enjoy the luxury of privacy and personal attention while choosing the perfect chapeau or ordering a custom made piece.  The room is extremely feminine with details like hand painted egret feathers on the ceiling and a deco vanity which shelves support a collection of crystal, enamel, mother of pearl and cut steel buckles.  It reflects the mood of the original millinery salons of Europe in the early part of the last century.  Clients range from socialites to women who save up just to treat themselves once or twice a year.

Along with co-founding The Millinery Arts Alliance, Miss Corsetti counts the following accolades as high points in her career.  Loreta has been featured in many magazines including WWD and Elle but will forever be proud of being named “ Entrepreneur of the Year” in 2002 by Victoria Magazine along with fellow members of The Millinery Arts Alliance.

In 2005, her dear friend and colleague Laura Whitlock invited Loreta to partner on a commission to design and create the hats for director Robert Altman’s production of “ A Wedding”, an opera which premiered at The Lyric Opera of Chicago.   This opportunity was significant because seldom does a head costume designer allow milliners that kind of freedom.

In 2007, Loreta achieved a life long goal by winning an award for her work from the prestigious “ Cappello del Mondo” international hat competition.  Her work was chosen among hundreds of applicants from around the world to be featured in a permanent exhibit at the Museo del Cappello in Italy. Miss Corsetti is the first milliner from the United States to receive this honor.

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