Interview with Anya Caliendo

When I held in my hands my very own Anya Caliendo couture creation, the “Dancing my way to Paris” beret, I experienced a very emotional, truly memorable moment. The promise of exquisite handmade craft, unique detailing and utmost chicness had become reality, but it still was more in the realm of the fantastical. I had won this amazing giveaway which I couldn’t even believe. The first time I had ever won something and it was an object d’artA marvelous adventure of seduction and adornment, as Anya describes the objects of her designs. 

Couture milliner Anya Caliendo runs her own atelier in New York, having learned the art of millinery in London from two legendary names in the field, Rose Cory and Stephen Jones. She worked on the creation of hats for the collections of Jason Wu spring/summer 2010, Donna Karan spring/summer 2010, Kinder Aggugini spring/summer 2010, Comme des Garçons spring/summer 2010 and John Galliano spring/summer 2010. Her fabulous hats have graced the pages of renowned fashion magazines, such as this month’s Vogue Mexico .

my “Dancing my way to Paris” beret


As I wanted to write a special post on this, I took the chance to ask Anya for an interview. She was incredibly receptive and kind and she immediatly accepted, so now I have the privilege of sharing this interview with you.

Tell  me a little about yourself (where you were born, when you moved to New York, how you learned millinery).

I was born in Russia and moved to the US in 1999. I have discovered my passion and love for hats when I was 3, but I could never imagine that designing and creating hats would become my mission in life. I had two amazing teachers: Mrs. Rose Cory and Mr. Stephen Jones who taught me everything I know today about the Art of Millinery. This knowledge in combination with my own ideas helped me to find my own voice and signature in millinery.

When did you first become interested in fashion and why did you choose millinery?

I have been in love with fashion forever. I had my beautiful Grandmother and my Mother who wore extraordinarily beautiful hats. I remember my first hat I wore at the age of 3 – it was an amazing feeling, I think I never got over it. I chose to study Millinery largely because of those memories, but also because I feel that hat is the only accessory that is capable of transforming the entire persona. Hat design to me is a never ending journey to so many historical eras, theatrical productions and fashion editorials. It is impossible not to be in love with it.

“Black Swan”


Who/what inspires you?

Many things and many people. Inspiration lives everywhere around me: in black and white photographs, French cinema, vintage stores, rain, cup of coffee, old letters and, of course, creative beautiful minds.

Is there a designer you admire or who has influenced your work?

Absolutely. There are actually two names I would put on the top of my list: John Galliano and Stephen Jones. They both are tremendous inspiration and a brilliant example of what it means to create with no boundaries, no limits and almost never do what is expected of you. It is a special kind of creative freedom that transcends design into the level of Art.

What is your favourite fashion moment, a defining moment, in the fashion history?

Every single show by Dior Haute Couture designed by Galliano – each one of them is a pure revelation. Nothing tops it! I suppose we all have been spoiled a bit by the number of brilliant collections by Galliano for Dior. I will miss it greatly!

“Moulin Rouge” – “The secret lives of dolls” collection 2010


What’s the most important thing in a woman’s appearance?

Her hat, of course…well and possibly shoes!

Is there a recipe for a designer in order to be successful? What is the proportion between talent and work required?

I think that any designer must have a certain combination of ingredients in order to be successful: talent, talent and once again talent combined with vision, ability to put enormous amount of time into his work, be creative in every single decision, have his/her clear goals and a great team of people to assist  in achieving his/her dreams.

Is there anyone in particular you would love to create a hat for?

Oh, so many people! I would love to create a hat for Russian supermodel Natalia Vodianova, French actress Audrey Tautou, Russian actress Chulpan Khamatova, Natasha Poly, Anna Dello Russo just to name a few.

“Rouge Noir” – “The secret lives of dolls” collection 2010


Thank you, Anya, once again, for this opportunity. For more on Anya Caliendo and her beautiful creations you can visit her official website, , or her blog, Couture Millinery Atelier .

photos: 1st one by me, 2,3,4-courtesy of Anya Caliendo Couture Millinery Atelier

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