Jasmin Zorlu wearing her trademark Aquatic Aviator Fishskin Helmet
Greetings from Santa Fe, New Mexico on Planet Earth! Ever since I was a kid, I felt like I was from another planet. I would regularly spend an hour a day staring into the mirror, kind of shocked that I had a body. I dreamed of being an astronaut, spending hours at the library copying facts about space into a spiral notebook. At the age of 11, when I became a compulsive novel reader (including late at night with a flashlight under the covers), my eyes went to shit. I noticed something was up only at Sunday mass, when I couldn’t read the hymnal page listing. That dashed my hopes of ever becoming an astronaut, plus I sucked at science!
My dear Turkish father taught me how to use the Elna sewing machine when living in Iceland. Here’s a recent photo of him here, with the same Elna!
I remember being the first to wear leggings in high school. I took the bus to Reykjavik from the US Nato base to find the popular tapering polyester stirrup pants. Instead, I went into a punk shop to buy tight nylon leggings instead. Another boy named Charlie would make fun of me, saying “Look who’s here, it’s Jacques Cousteau! Where are you diving today, Jacques?”. I would smile back, unflapped, saying: “Just you wait, everyone will be wearing these soon”. And I was right!
The school newspaper interviewed me and asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I responded immediately, “a milliner”, in jest, because I had just learned the word and thought it was neat. Little did I know that I would become one!!! (Am I psychic??) They misprinted it as “millionaire”, since many aren’t familiar with this word.
I actually wanted to be a fashion designer and was admitted to Otis-Parsons in Los Angeles under the fashion design program. Can you believe 25 years later, I actually taught millinery at the Parsons School of Design? So crazy! Sadly, I didn’t think I was talented enough, so I chose a ‘safe’ school that my mother had graduated from: Michigan State University. I was miserable there, getting constantly bullied, since I studied often. It was a party school. I fell in love with a boy named John studying Industrial design and transferred with him to University of Michigan, where I studied Art History and studio art. While there, I took a millinery class in the Theatrical department, falling fast and hard for the craft. It was the only class where I ever got an A+! I resolved to move to the big Apple after graduation to continue my studies in millinery. In New York City, I took classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology and worked for many different fine and theatrical milliners, honing my craft. Since I also loved shoes (my parents told me of a story where they took me all over Tokyo to find a certain pair of red rain boots at the age of 6), I studied shoemaking as well.
Wanting to make more money, after graduation from an Associate of Science program in Accessory design at FIT, I moved out west to Seattle, to a corporate Footwear Design Assistant job, where I learned how to technically draw shoes. When my dream job came up at ESPRIT in San Francisco, I couldn’t believe it and jumped at the chance to be a full fledged Footwear Designer. I had the lucky chance to travel to Taiwan and Mexico on development trips. One vacation later, 1999 in Paris, I spent $300 on millinery materials and dove back into my first love, millinery. I’ve shuttled between New York City and San Francisco, uprooting my entire life and business a few times. Teaching millinery workshops in California, New York and Rhode Island since 2001 prepared me for teaching at the International Millinery Forum in Wagga Wagga, Australia in 2012. (Click each link to read my blog posts about it).
In 2016, I traveled to Daegu, South Korea to teach English for the first time. I loved it! I even taught the kids math through millinery!
I’m now in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with a sweet Yorkie dog I adopted, helping out my elderly mother.
I plan to sell fabric hat patterns online soon and I’m working on a hatmaking manual.
I dream of traveling the world, making hats and teaching others the amazing craft of millinery, while teaching English. Where will we end up? Vietnam? China? Indonesia?
I play with an organic concept of design morphed with an elegant directive from the Art Deco Era. Hand made with clean, deliberate structure and linework, my futuristic headwear transcends traditional notions of time and space. The hats are highly versatile and can be worn a myriad of ways, depending on the wearer's mood (frontwards, backwards, or sideways). I enjoy creating sculptural headwear to decorate and protect the cranium in the form of cloches, helmets, and other fun shapes from the eco friendly materials of fish leather, handwoven straws, wool felt and upcycled wool.
Kat Von D, Erykah Badu, Neil Young, and Tom Waits have bought my hats. Also, Bjork and Nick Cave have one!
Check out my blog!
I'd love to hear from you at jzmillinery (at) gmail.com