- 23 Sep 2013 9:00 AM
Before attending the Faculty of Humanities of ELTE University, Virág Ildikó Erdei studied the manufacture of clothes at secondary school. She was art history and Spanish major and wrote her thesis about hats. After graduation she worked as a guide and translator but did not give up going into millinery.
She taught herself various hat-making techniques and approached milliners in Budapest to teach her the trade. After being turned down by some, she found a helpful one, Éva Várhegyi in Hollán Ernő Street in District Thirteen. “Éva has taught me the ins and outs of hat-making,” Erdei says. “Without a well-chosen form, hats are useless,” she adds.
Eager to learn, Erdei enrolled in the London Kensington and Chelsea College – a renowned school for makers of hats – to study fashion and millinery. Among her instructors was a hat designer who works for Karl Lagerfeld. Britain has a thriving hat culture, so Erdei had made the right choice. She had a trainee job at Siggi Hats, official milliner of Royal Ascot Hats. Then Peter Jones fashion firm – which has contractual relations with Kensington College – selected Erdei’s “crystal ball” hat adorned with Tarot cards into its official collection.
Later on she worked as assistant in Philip Somerville’s workshop where Queen Elizabeth II was among the clients for decades. Members of the British aristocracy frequented Somerville’s shop on Oxford Street. (You cannot find that firm any more. The original owner sold it to an investor who mismanaged its affairs.)
Says Erdei: “I worked under tremendous pressure in the United Kingdom but learned enough to build my own brand.” In Hungary her hat designs could only be seen in show rooms for years but last year fortune favored her again.
An elderly woman – a certain Aunt Márta – saw a television interview with her and contacted her. Aunt Márta’s family had a well established millinery shop in Lázár Street in Budapest’s Sixth District and she decided to select Erdei to inherit that shop. “Alongside the shop I inherited traditional instruments of the trade, including milliner’s wooden blocks, milliner’s scissors and instruments to impress initials. Museum pieces as they are, they come in handy in my daily work. In fact I plan to turn a corner of my future salon a miniature museum of millinery.” A young designer, Erdei has already had opportunities to present her collections to the public.
Her collection last fall and winter was inspired by the halo effect of the Moon. She employed traditional technology to produce modern so-called “ring hats” and a new generation of ear flaps. Today her firm, Masamod (the word meaning milliner in Hungarian) [masamod.com] seamlessly combines old and new. For the time being the greater part of her orders comes from abroad though.
Alongside hats Erdei has made several collections of accessories. Fashion designer Dóri Tomcsányi has been among her clients. Erdei’s accessories have been used in numerous coproduced films and Hungarian theatrical performances.
In spring 2013 she entered the “Rebutton! Central Europe” contest of Design Terminal and eventually an international jury awarded first place to her accessories in the Oldhands category. Her collection, entitled: “Figurine” was made of rabbit hare and felt and it found inspiration in art nouveau architecture.
As Erdei puts it: “Art nouveau was once present in every country of the region and in every country it showed national characteristics. My hats are meant to evoke the sculpture-like feature of that tendency. I borrowed motifs from art nouveau: gorgons, creepers, volutes, waving hair and arched facades. I was awed by timelessness on the face of art nouveau sculptures. The strong and unconventional colors have taken away the classical atmosphere of my head ware collection, which means they were received as contemporary sculpture.”
Virág Ildikó Erdei is planning to open her salon in Lázár Street at the end of September – just in time for “Design Week.”
Translated by Budapest Telegraph
Source: Magyar Nemzet
Source of photo: Facebook