The Story of “One Block Many Milliners”
By Linda Ashton, Millinery ’97
President of the Milliners Guild
My memory is as clear as if it were yesterday. I was sitting in my favourite spot, at the glorious worktable by the window, in Janet Linville’s blocking class at FIT. The lesson was over, and I sat watching all the students scurrying about, sewing, steaming and getting blocks, the wooden forms we milliners use to shape our hats. I wondered…what if there was only one block? What if we all had to start from that same shape? I thought if each milliner blocked and trimmed from their hearts, using only their individual style, how different they all would be.
Years go by and I find myself the President of the Milliners Guild. We are a group of independent milliners. Always looking for new ideas for fabulous events for the Guild, I remembered the idea I had at FIT. I proposed the idea of One Block Many Milliners to the Guild, and an event was born.
Fast forward to the Headwear Association dinner where I met Dawn Duncan, VP of Development and Alumni Relations at FIT. I proposed the One Block Many Milliners project to her, knowing that many of our members were alumni of FIT’s Millinery Program. It seemed a good fit, and she agreed. The Guild purchased our first official Guild Block. Aaron Keppel and I put together a really tight blocking schedule, with each milliner having four days to block and then pass the block on to the next milliner. We were all sworn to secrecy not to divulge anything about our designs. We were each on our own.
So here we are now, almost one year later, presenting the creativity and style of 25 milliners. We all began with the same shape, but every milliner’s design is different from the others. Just what I thought would happen…
Thank you to Dawn Duncan, FIT’s Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations/Executive Director of the Foundation; Allison Oldehoff, FIT’s Manager of Alumni and Faculty Relations; Yolanda Urrabazo, Associate Manager of Alumni and Faculty Relations; Sandy Ramirez, Photographer.
We hope to see you there!