Eugenia Kim, a New York City-based milliner, is celebrating her 25th year in business as an independent designer. Known for her inventive and irreverent hat designs, Kim has built a following and will be hosting a cocktail party to commemorate the milestone. In honor of the anniversary, she has also created an “Icon” collection featuring 12 tongue-in-cheek designs, including an ashtray fascinator and a hat inspired by an everything bagel with cream cheese and lox.
Raised in Pittsburgh, Kim initially pursued a premed route at Dartmouth College but switched to creative writing after a hospital stay for a broken back made her question a career that required so much hospital time. She then took a job as an editorial assistant at Allure magazine and used the corporate tuition reimbursement benefit to take a night class in hat design at Parsons School of Design. Kim was drawn to hats because they are handmade, individualistic, and three dimensional, unlike much of the machine-made fashion industry.
After losing her job at Allure, Kim continued making hats and gained attention when a store employee in SoHo noticed her wearing one of her designs. This led to a window display, which caught the eye of someone from Barneys New York and eventually resulted in publicity for her hat designs. Kim’s fondness for surrealism and punning is evident in her work, drawing inspiration from designers like Elsa Schiaparelli and Rudi Gernreich, who also started out designing hats.
Overall, Eugenia Kim’s 25 years as an independent designer in the hat industry is a testament to her creativity, perseverance, and unique approach to fashion.