One of the hottest names on the Beijing fashion scene at the moment is expatriate Elisabeth Koch. Having been in Beijing for a mere year and a half, Koch describes her millinery business as having “hit the ground running.”
Koch saw an opportunity to move from her native Brussels, and recognized Beijing as the ideal city to set up Elisabeth Koch Millinery and give her dream that long-awaited shot. But why choose Beijing over China’s label-obsessed Shanghai or Hong Kong? “It’s because fashion is really booming in Beijing right now, and the people who spend ‘big money’ on fashion aren’t in SH, they’re here,” Koch explains.
The element of being in a city where everything is fresh, exciting and on the cusp of new beginnings is attractive to many young entrepreneurs and artists, as Koch can confirm; “there are so many new designers in Beijing who are starting out and finding their way in clothes, jewelry, shoes, and handbag businesses, but there’s no hats! And that’s my specialty. I’m the only hat maker in Beijing.”
Having researched the possibility of other milliners in Beijing, Koch appears to be the only one offering unique, custom made hats. It is quite possible that she could in fact be ‘The lady that brought head fashion to Beijing.’ Upon hearing this, Koch replies, “I most definitely do feel like that person! I mean, there are Chinese companies that mass produce hats, all machine-made and the trimmings are glue-gunned on. They look awful and they’re not creative like mine.”
Some of the more creative editions to the Elisabeth Koch collection are a hat in the style of a large rubber duck, an Eiffel tower, and a spider balanced upon its web. Many of the designs are most definitely not suited to the shrinking violet, complimenting the statement hair and make up of the Spring/Summer 2009 collections.
A majority of Koch’s collection is reflective of the environment around her. “Everything I find or see in Beijing could potentially be my next hat. If I see something at the market, I automatically begin wondering how it could be part of my next creation.’”