Suzanne Couture Millinery - Report Card -

As one of the few custom milliners in New York, Suzanne Newman has carried on the couture tradition in her Upper East Side store. Her hats have a wide appeal, and the fashion-savvy customers of Suzanne Couture Millinery range from downtown fashionistas to sophisticated, uptown ladies-who-lunch. Newman prides herself on a style that is wearable, classic and chic, as opposed to some of the more bizarre creations that have infiltrated the business. Customers report that her hats are very flattering and can be worn on more than one occasion. Newman and her four designers create each custom piece by hand at the Sixty-First Street shop. 

Suzanne began making hats in 1985 when she was a single mother. Under the wing of famed hat designer Josephine Trippoli, Newman honed her craft and eventually bought the business upon her mentor?s retirement. Now a successful Upper East Side staple, Suzanne regularly makes hats for the Kentucky Derby, Ascot, and royal weddings throughout Europe. But you don?t have to be royalty to wear one of Newman?s creations. We hear many purchase her hats for luncheons, showers and weddings. Her custom veils, mantillas and bridal headpieces are also very popular. Lastly, Suzanne makes fur hats in the winter that pliable so that you can put them in a pocketbook or a coat pocket. 

Work at this level rarely comes cheap, and hats and veils at Suzanne Couture Millinery can range from several hundred to a few thousand dollars and take ten days to two weeks to create. Bridal headpieces cost around a hundred and fifty dollars. However, for designs that have graced the pages of Vogue, W, Harper?s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, Town and Country, Martha Stewart Weddings, and The New York Times Magazine, Newman has no shortage of high-profile customers. Celebrity clients include Kate Hudson, Goldie Hawn, Beyoncé Knowles, Tina Knowles and Drew Barrymore.

Representative Client Comments:
"Suzanne is lovely to work with and really understands the events her clients are attending. Her shop is a joy to walk into." "The wait is long during Kentucky Derby season, but Suzanne can work under the gun if needed." "Absolutely the place to get a hat for a royal wedding or other equally fancy event." "Very old school." ?Her hats are wearable works of art.? ?The employees there are so charming and service-oriented.? ?I?ve had my Suzanne hat for ten years, and I adore it.? ?THE place in New York to buy a hat. There?s nowhere else with that level of craftsmanship.?


Suzanne Newman

Head Designer and Owner of Suzanne Couture Millinery

Suzanne was born in Johannesburg, South Africa where she grew up with an instinctual hand for design. As a student, her love for fashion brought her to London where she found work as the manager of a ladies boutique, a position that broadened her horizons through her frequent buying trips to Paris and Milan.

When Suzanne moved to New York, she met Old World milliner, Josephine Tripoli. Through her apprenticeship with Josephine, Suzanne discovered her own creative instincts and hands-on ability to make hats. Having found her place in fashion, Suzanne took over Josephine's business, which led her to open her own boutique on Madison Avenue.

Over the years, Suzanne's business has grown to incorporate couture bridal headpieces as well as couture hats. Each piece is created and completed on the premises by Suzanne and her staff. The beauty of a Suzanne hat lies not only in the use of the finest quality materials, but also in the fact that each creation is custom-designed for the individual client. Her limitless imagination never misses a beat, and she thrives on the excitement of never knowing what she will be asked to think of next.

Suzanne has created hats for many of the most discriminating women in the world. Her creations have graced the big screen, and are frequently seen on the covers and editorial pages of Vogue, W, Harper?s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, Town and Country, Martha Stewart Weddings, and The New York Times Magazine. She has also produced fashion shows in collaboration with many of the top designers.

As one of the few custom milliners left in the world, Suzanne continues to set a precedent in the fashion industry.

Suzanne's boutique is located at 136 East 61st Street

(between Lexington & Park Avenues),New york City.    -     Tel: 212-593-3232


Sideways Review - April 2015 

Suzanne Newman, who originally hails from South Africa, works with four assistants in her Upper East Side store. Having spent the first part of her life in a London boutique, Suzanne began making hats as a single mother under the tutelage of Josephine Trippoli in 1985. Two years later, she opened up her own store on Madison Avenue. For fifteen years, she developed her creative instincts and gained an enviable list of followers. In 2002, she moved to her current 61st Street location, bringing her regular customers with her and acquiring a host of new ones as well.

On the day that we stopped by to take some photos of the boutique, we had the pleasure of speaking to Rosael and McKenzie about their experience working with the talented Suzanne. One of the first things that they shared with us was that Suzanne has her hand in every project. If one of them is feeling creatively challenged, not sure if something is working properly, or simply looking for feedback, they turn to Suzanne. The result of their collaboration is whimsical, vibrant and breathtaking: with materials sourced from around the world and colors often produced by hand-dying, the array of head pieces is nothing short of perfection.

The two young women displayed pride in the personal experience that they are able to offer their clients. The designers create custom hats for bridal parties, and they can very easily design headwear based on a swatch of a dress a client plans to wear. With remarkable attention to detail, there are casual hats for simple occasions and then some extraordinary and extravagant ones for the Kentucky Derby or even England’s grand millinery event of the year, The Royal Ascot.

When we asked about their average clientele, Rosael told us that there is a specific demographic of “Ladies who Lunch” who come for accessories for charity events and horse races, but there is also a younger crew that frequents the shop – especially since William and Kate’s Royal Wedding made hats and fascinators (decorative headpieces) the talk of the town. On a subsequent visit, I was able to witness Suzanne in action as she and her team go out of their way to be certain that every customer leaves the shop elated, and thus forming a long term relationship. Rosael shared a touching story that had happened only a few days prior to our visit, when a woman brought in a black hat to be repaired – she had bought it from Suzanne in the 1980s.

A special moment was when we were invited to step into the back of the boutique and observed a milliner’s workshop. We found it to be piled high with all sorts of materials. There was a box labeled “exotic feathers” containing turkey, duck, goose, peacock, and ostrich feathers. We witnessed some of the works in progress, including a fascinator in the shape and colors of a coy fish, a shiny blue Spanish-style hat, and a helmet-like pink hat that could have come right out of the 1960s. The designers have even been experimenting with printing 3D hats. We marveled at the hat blocks, which are put together like puzzle pieces by selecting crowns and brims. Lastly, we took note of the bases for the sun hats that are being made for the summertime, shipped in from France to the Philippines.

As we were stepping out the door, McKenzie shared one last story telling us that whenever the milliners go out together, they wear samples of their work. Not only do they make a statement, but it allows them to determine if they need to reinforce parts of a hat to combat the wind, or tell clients to duck low when exiting cars to spare long feathers. There is something beautiful about imagining that scene – these exquisite pieces of art being worn by the people who can best appreciate them.


Article and photos from the New York Times: 

Fabulous Hats

Emily Berl for The New York Times More Photos »

Suzanne Newman, the owner of Suzanne Couture Millinery, and her four assistants make and decorate all the shop?s hats and fascinators.



?I WANT the fabulous hat,? Caroline Traugott said with a laugh. ?And whatever goes with it, who cares??

When Ms. Traugott, a young mother from the neighborhood, came to Suzanne Couture Millinery on East 61st Street in late April to find a hat for the Central Park Conservancy?s 30th annual Frederick Law Olmsted awards lunch, she brought six dresses with her. With the help of Suzanne Newman, the owner, she?d chosen a small headpiece ? a fascinator, strictly speaking ? with skinny blue and black feathers waving about like errant thoughts. The dress it suited best was, Ms. Traugott later confessed, ?a cheapie.? But the dress was not the point.

At Suzanne Couture, Ms. Newman, 63, and her four assistants make such headwear from scratch for the major hat events in the North American social calendar: conservancy luncheons in New York, Pittsburgh, Boston and Chicago and the Kentucky Oaks and Derby races; as well as for parties in Florida, California and farther afield.

Madeleine Asplundh, 29, stopped by recently with her Jack Russell in tow to pick up a sparkly little number with curls of straw above and below the brim. It was for a June wedding in the English countryside, but, she joked, ?I?m really going so I can wear a hat.? This was her first Suzanne piece. Some customers buy dozens a year, which, at $450 and up (mostly up), can get expensive.

Ms. Newman has been in the trade since the mid-1980s, when, as a newly single mother living on Roosevelt Island, she wandered into a millinery shop on East 59th Street and found her vocation.

Its owner, Josephine Tripoli, trained her and eventually sold her the business. During her teenage years in Johannesburg, there was not much fashion to be had, Ms. Newman said; she made her own dresses based on photographs in magazines like Seventeen and L?Officiel. ?Here, at last, was something I could do,? she remembered thinking.

She looks great in hats, too, which is useful when she has to demonstrate how to wear one of her creations: ?Tilted on the right-hand side, down on the forehead,? she instructed a customer in Boston by phone, while her assistant snapped a photograph of the correct angle, so it could be e-mailed.

Since buying the little shop near the Roosevelt Island tram, Ms. Newman has been in three locations, and in September she moved into the new space, just west of Lexington Avenue.

It?s glamorous in a way that recalls the era of the silver screen: lavender paint, bright lights, lots of mirrors. Hats line the walls, the racks and sparkling glass shelves. Some are made of deconstructed silk scarves; others have big brims wrapped with tulle. They sport feathers and ruffles in surprising places. Inside the workroom are boxes and boxes of supplies, some antique, labeled ?thistles? and ?French summer large roses?; there are bolts of colored fabric and straw and fur pelts on hangers.

Although Ms. Newman designs about three-quarters of her hats ?custom? for specific clients, who often want them for specific occasions, the hats on display sell, too. One thing that Ms. Newman does not make many of on spec are white hats. They are handled too much by walk-in customers who try on every hat in the store.

Ms. Newman said she did not mind those people who came just to browse: ?That?s part of the happiness of it. They?re having a great New York experience.?


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