Jenny Pfanenstiel, Master Milliner
"A hat can not only change your day, but it can also change your life!"
Jenny Pfanenstiel, Featured Milliner of the 146th, 147th, 148th, 149th, 150th Kentucky Derby®
OFFICIAL MILLINER OF THE KENTUCKY DERBY MUSEUM
"A hat can not only change your day, but it can also change your life!" - Jenny Pfanenstiel
Jenny is a world-renowned Milliner awarded for her skill of creating and sculpting hats by hand using the highest quality and rare materials from across the globe. She is recognized for her dedication to the craft and quality in her artistic creations. The art of Millinery is a technique that dates back centuries through molding straw and wool over wooden hat forms. Taking from traditional millinery techniques, she is known for her unique process of sculpting hats on a braid machine from the 1800s. She sculpts the braid with her hands as it is sewing together creating one-of-a-kind sculptures for the head, something Jenny is known for throughout the world.
After visiting Louisville, Kentucky for several years to create custom hats for the Derby, Jenny relocated her family and business and moved to the Southern state. She opened a permanent Hat Shop, Formé Millinery, located minutes from downtown Louisville. When a client comes into her hat shop for a custom hat, she provides an "experience". They try on different shapes and styles and go through the colors of straw and felt to pick out the appropriate color. They talk about embellishments and what would work best. She measures their head so the hat will fit properly. Dedication to quality and detail are essential to creating the perfect hat for each client. “My goal is to make a person feel sensational in my hats. I want them to look into the mirror and feel transformed, almost as if they are one with the creation of the hat.” Since moving to Louisville, Jenny has placed her mark on the Kentucky horse racing scene as the Featured Milliner of the Kentucky Derby® #146, #147, #148, #149, and #150. She is also the Official Milliner of the Kentucky Derby Museum and a Featured Milliner of Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Kentucky. "As a Milliner who respects the storied history of my own craft, it is thrilling to partner with an iconic and historic event like the Kentucky Derby. The tradition of hats at the Derby is just one of the distinctive things that make it such a sensational spectacle and it is an honor to collaborate on one-of-a-kind pieces that add to the beauty and special memories associated with America's Greatest Race." You can find her permanent hat display at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby.
Jenny has crafted hats for some of the world's most well-known dignitaries and celebrities including Former First Lady Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Madonna, Neil Diamond, and Barbara Corcoran from the TV show "Shark Tank", to name a few. She has created exclusive hat collections for vineyard vines, Covet Fashion Style App, J Peterman, Woodford Reserve, Goodman Theatre, and the Joffrey Ballet and is a hat designer for McCall Patterns. In November 2015, Dover Publications published her methods in the book "The Making of a Milliner" to share her creativity with other aspiring Milliners. In 2019, she was selected as a Tory Burch Fellow through the Tory Burch Foundation as a woman entrepreneur.
The making of hats is a craft Jenny has come to admire, respect, and for which she has a true passion. When she is not making hats in her Louisville Hat Shop, you can find her teaching hat making workshops all over the world, with the desire to continue a tradition that is by no means forgotten.
Photo: Clay Cook
Come watch Master Milliner, Jenny Pfanenstiel at her best, making each hat by hand using old wooden hat blocks that are displayed throughout her work space. She takes great pride in keeping this 200+ year old tradition alive, by using old techniques in creating each hat. What appears to be a seemingly easy wardrobe accoutrement, a hat often becomes a conversation starter creating the perfect statement and setting the stage for yet another memorable life moment. When one thinks about some of the most important events in their life, they often connect these memories with the hat that donned their head that day. Hats not only complete your style; they create a wearable journal of life’s adventures.
Each hat can take anywhere from 3 days - 3 weeks to make one hat from start to finish. The Beginning: “Blocking” The process of molding the millinery material over hat blocks by wetting and steaming it to create the shape of the specific block. Most of her materials come from England, France and Australia. Quality is essential, so whether Jenny is creating with Sinamay, Jinsin, or Velour, rest assured each hat is made with the highest quality materials available. She also searches all over the world for quality vintage millinery materials and embellishments to incorporate into her hats. Bakelite is a favorite medium and loves finding old hat pins and buttons to use. Every detail is taken into consideration.
Once all of the pleats and bumps are removed through the blocking process, it is tacked and roped down. Then the drying process begins. Once dry, Jenny removes the material from the crown and brim blocks, cuts away excess material, and then begins to hand sew the crown and brim together. A sweat band and wire are added for additional comfort and stability.
Embellishing: Jenny hand makes the embellishments, whether it is a feather flower, or sculpted horsehair creation. This allows for her imagination to soar with no boundaries, and allows her to create custom styles and colors.
Each person should enjoy the experience of having a custom hat made just for them. Jenny creates custom hats for all genders and for all occasions and seasons. Start by having your head measured so the hat fits comfortably. Then you pick out the color material that you want. We look and try on many shapes and sizes to find the best shape to fit your physique. In the end, you have a completed hat that fits you perfectly in a custom shape and style.
Jenny truly enjoys the art of Millinery and hopes that each person enjoys their hat as much as she did making it. Each hat is created with special attention and love.
Jenny - Master Milliner, Owner: Formé Millinery, Hat Boxes USA, Judith M Millinery Supply House
Formé Millinery Hat Shop
1009 E. Main Street
Louisville, KY 40206
Woodford Reserve Distillery
7785 McCracken Pike
Versailles, KY 40383
Judith M Millinery Supply House
115 E. Main St.
La Grange, KY 40031
8300 Preston Rd #200
Dallas, TX 75225