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EXCLUSIVE: Maison Michel Launches Customization Service

Launching in Paris and London on Tuesday, it’s about bringing back the millinery tradition of made-to-order, creative director Priscilla Royer said.

EXCLUSIVE: Maison Michel Launches Customization Service

Maison Michel’s Charles panama hat is one of seven models that can be fully customized.

SHOW TOPPERS: If a coordinated hat is the final touch you’ve always wanted for your outfits, you’re in luck.

Maison Michel is launching a customization service starting Tuesday at its flagships in Rue Cambon in Paris and on London’s Conduit Street.

Seven models, ranging from the Virginie fedora with its distinctive indentation and the New Bonnie beret to the Kiki boater and Tiger cap, can be chosen as the starting point.

With seven colors of felt and a straw option, as well as personalized ribbon tones, knot styles and even a veil, that’s more than 3,000 combinations. Customers can also bring their own fabric to really match a garment, making the possibilities almost infinite.

Priced between 850 euros and 950 euros, the customized Maison Michel hats take between four and six weeks to be delivered. Maison Michel’s regular offering ranges in price from 220 euros for a waterproof foldable bucket hat to 950 euros for a felt Virginie with an extra-wide brim, and in the low four-figures for designs adorned with a profusion of studs or featuring hand embroideries.

For Priscilla Royer, creative director of the Chanel-owned specialist atelier, this is an essential step to perpetuate the tradition of hatmaking and millinery, at a moment where thoughtful consumption and making more sustainable fashion choices are top of mind.

“This isn’t an isolated decision, it’s part of the zeitgeist. I think it’s interesting because that’s a way we could change mentalities little by little,” she said.

EXCLUSIVE: Maison Michel Launches Customization Service

The Virginie hat is one of seven models available for customization.

“Clients used to come to the atelier to place their order, so [the offer] is this idea of keeping the history vivid, since you would want a hat to match your outfit, not the other way around,” she continued.

Customization is not new at Maison Michel. “Clients were already asking for it, bringing for example the cut-off hem of their dress to get a matching headband or fabric leftovers from their outfits,” Royer explained.

Plus, she’s long viewed her own work as a proposition, rather than a style prescription. “The Maison Michel collection is a nice catalogue of what we can do in terms of colors and finishes,” she said.

Seeing what consumers custom order is therefore useful in her work. “For me, it’s a way to get data analysis but also it’s something more personalized and a more human-sized way of doing things,” she said.

And it’s already a significant part of the business. “Every week, I possibly have a dozen orders like this,” she revealed. Periods such as the run-up to the Ascot races in the U.K. are high season for custom requests. 

Highlighting it in stores is a way to crack open the door toward bespoke, which can go up to developing a custom wood shape, similar to the way shoe lasts can be made to a foot’s exact measurements.

“You’re flirting with couture somehow,” she said. “It’s very important for us to keep that alive, because that way, people will continue to think about us on a very special level.”