How Berwyn’s Fab Fancy Hat Maker Got Her Start
by Diane Oliva, style editor
Spring has sprung on the Main Line and we know what that means … hat season! From Winterthur’s Point-To-Point to Devon Horse Show and Radnor Hunt, spring means horse racing season on the Main Line and its suburbs. Women will be dressed to impress, and that includes a hat.
Do you know how the hat tradition started? Turns out, the custom of wearing hats to equestrian races dates back to when the Kentucky Derby started in 1875. The race was modeled after high-class European racing events, and Europe’s most fashionable ladies wore hats. The style caught on quickly in America and has definitely gained popularity over the years.
It’s a tradition I have always loved, and I look forward to wearing hats during the season. Don’t hats and fascinators make us feel more glamorous, chic and confident? What kind of hats do you love? They can range from simple and elegant to all-out editorial masterpieces.
Zoya Egan, owner of Zoya Egan Millinery and founder of Fashion at the Races, started her career completely by accident. In 2015, a friend invited her to Radnor Hunt Races. The night before the event, her friend called and said, “Hope you have a great hat!”
A great hat? No, Zoya didn’t have a great hat. In fact, she didn’t have any hats. So, Zoya found an old pillbox hat she purchased at a garage sale for 50 cents and took it apart. Then, she put it back together using only her imagination, wrapping it in fabric and using remnants from a silk floral arrangement in her living room. She feverishly dismembered the faux flowers and used them for the hat’s embellishments.
And…. wait for it… she won the Radnor Races hat contest with the hat she had assembled the night before. It was the first hat Zoya made, but it certainly was not the last.
She started making hats for fun, which quickly led her to seeking formal education. Zoya traveled to London and trained under the British milliner who created hats for Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth II. Millinery came easily to Zoya. Her mother was a renowned private seamstress in her native Russia. She taught Zoya the craft of sewing, design and construction.
Zoya now works out of her 3,000 square foot studio in Berwyn and meets with clients one-on-one to create their perfect hats. She bases that not only on her clients’ dress, but their heights, hairstyles, face shapes, and body types. “Hats aren’t an afterthought,” Zoya says. “They can make or break your look, and this makes them an integral part of racing fashion.”
Zoya also judges hat contests at the Devon Horse Show and Radnor Hunt, and around the country. Looking for a showstopper winning hat? She knows what wins and knows how to create it.
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