Anya Caliendo: exclusive interview


For a girl born in the USSR dreaming about being a designer would have been just as unreal as planning to move to America. Anya did both. In 1999 she found herself in New York where her life changed forever. She followed her dreams and achieves things that only few can make possible.Anya learnt the art of millinery while studying in London under a watchful eye of Mrs Rose Cory in 2008 and Mr Stephen Jones in 2009 when, as his apprentice, she created beautiful has for John Galliano, Donna Karan, Jason Wu, Commes des Garsons and Kinder Aggugini as well as Kylie Minogue and Rio Fashion Rocks.Her own collections featured on pages of Italian Flair and Vogue include a very personal Je Ne Regrette Rien that saw the world in 2008, Russia Divine Tribute (2009) and the Secret Life of Dolls (2011). The latest one, Les Enfants Terribles, inspired by Anastasia, Anya's 16-year-old daughter, is about to be revealed in a few weeks.
via fashioned by love | Anya Caliendo | Couture Millinery | Anna Pavlova (Part of the Je Ne Regrette Rien 2008 collection)
"Anna Pavlova" (Part of the Je Ne Regrette Rien 2008 collection)
WHO: Anya Caliendo, New York-based designer, the heart and soul of Anya Caliendo Couture Millinery Atelier, a business woman, a loving wife and mother, a girl with a sweet tooth who wears Lanvin, Nina Ricci, Christian Dior, Prada, Chanel and Rick Owens, has been collecting Vogues since 2000 and shares her home with “additional family members” including 3 dogs and 5 cats.
WHAT: incredibly beautiful couture hats
WHERE: read Anya’s blog, join her on Facebook and see her collections on her website
WHY: because these hats will make you feel beautiful
LOOK FOR: designs of your dreams – Anya is capable of making them real
via fashioned by love | Anya Caliendo | Couture Millinery | Provocateur
"Provocateur" (Part of the Sanctum 2013 collection)
What is your design philosophy?
I believe that there are several components to a beautifully made hat: inspiration point otherwise known as the story behind the design, mechanical planning and, finally, execution of the design with the main emphasis on craftsmanship. I also believe that the best tools God has ever granted us are our hands. The most beautiful hats in Millinery were created by hand only.
What do you find the most exciting about the art of millinery?
The power of transformation. Hats are the only accessory that are capable of transforming not only the look of the person but the entire identity. One will never be capable of achieving it with any other type of accessory.
And what is the most challenging about your job?
The simple fact that I have only two hands. I create all my hats by hand only and it is always challenging to keep up with all my ideas. I often think that if I would have more hands, I would be able to accomplish every single design I have on paper.
What do you enjoy the most about making a hat– the process itself or seeing the final product?
I enjoy every bit of the process: from making a preliminary sketch of the design, choosing fabric and materials, colour pallet, to the actual production process. Seeing final product is almost always the saddest part of my job. It is almost like saying “farewell” to this hat.
via fashioned by love | Anya Caliendo Interview | Couture Millinery | Fashion designer inspiration board
Is there a hat in any of your collections that makes you feel moved every time you look at it?
Yes. As I look back on my past Collection I realize that I have absolutely no regrets about neither one of my hats but I do, of course, have favourites even among my most beloved hats: “Rouge Noir”, “La Parisienne”, “Confidante: She Who Holds My Secrets” and, finally “Libertine” – the new hat designed for my new Collection.
Who or what do you think of when working on a new design?
Each design to me is a story that has to be told in fabrics and colour. Each hat has an inspiration behind it and every time I start a new design I have a very clear vision of the person or the memory that inspired the design. For the entire duration of production time I almost get possessed by the ideas that each story brings with it. I also can’t help but think about the woman ho will wear this hat. I try to imagine what her life is like and where would she wear this hat.
via fashioned by love | Anya Caliendo | French Chocolate" and "Mademoiselle" (Part of the Collection "Je Ne Regrette Rien")
"French Chocolate" and "Mademoiselle" (Part of the Je Ne Regrette Rien 2008 collection)
From “Sweet Memories” hat back in 2008 to an entire Les Enfants Terribles collection, your daughter Anastasia seems to becoming a source of endless inspiration for you. Is she your new muse?
Yes, she is one of my Muses. I don’t think she realises it yet and I hope one day she will look back on everything I have designed so far and see how much her mother loved her. I have a privilege of having this wonderful creature in my life: she is not only a source of my inspiration but a source of strength, my number one fan and still my little girl.
And what other women you’ve been inspired by?
Oh, so many! I can sit all week long listing names of women who have continuously inspired me: Amelia Earhart, Elsa Schiaparelli, Gala Dali, Anna Pavlova, Nadejda Lamanova, Anna Timireva, Anna Akhmatova, young Coco Chanel to name just a few.
You’ve said once that working with Mr Jones “because a life and career changing experience” for you. What was the most important lesson you’ve learnt from him?
The most important lesson: “never do what I expect you to do”. Sounds simple enough, but it became one of the most powerful advices I have ever been given in the field of Millinery Arts. It gave me complete freedom in exploring unexpected territories outside of the borders of traditional millinery techniques.
via fashioned by love | Anya Caliendo | Couture Millinery | Donna Karan Spring/Summer 2010
One of the hats made by Anya Caliendo for Donna Karan S/S 2010
Would you consider collaborating with fashion designers in the future?
Absolutely! This is something I will, most certainly, do in the nearest future.
And which designer would be your ideal match?
I would love to design hats for one of the new Collections of “Irfe”, Chanel, Giambattista Valli , Nina Ricci and John Galliano.
via fashioned by love | Anya Caliendo | Couture Millinery | Caviar
"Caviar" (Part of the Confessions 2014 collection)
What is your ultimate goal?
My ultimate goal is to contribute to the powerful comeback of the hats here, in the US and anywehere in the world. I desperately want women to see the beauty and elegance of hats. I also want to show people that Millinery is one of the most beautiful creative fields in Fashion Design. Well, I just want to remind them of it.
Favourite dessert: Laduree Macaroons
If you could be anywhere right now where would you find yourself? Paris in the morning and St. Petersburg in the evening
Most favourite item in your wardrobe right now? My new Nina Ricci booties.
Shoes or bags? Shoes and HATS!
One of your guilty pleasures: Coats by Lanvin

Photo source: Donna Karan collection via, all other photos courtesy of Anya Caliendo and Zorz Studios and protected by copyright


  1. I was looking forward to this, Little Rus. Wonderful job! Anya is such an incredibly talented designer, I immensely admire her work and the passion she puts into every beautiful hat she creates. You can imagine how happy I am to actually own a creation of hers, my "Dancing my way to Paris beret". :) Millinery truly is one of the most creative fields in fashion design and I would love to see more women wear a hat more often, including myself. xoxo

  2. these hats are beautiful..very interesting post as well..
    amazing Russian artist ♥

  3. Thank you for introduction! It is such an interesting interview and I love to discover new labels and know more the inspirations of the designers...Her creations are beautiful and millinery is a real art as some hats look like sculptures. I completely share her view about the power of transformation and I've always thought that hats say a lot about the style of a woman, because you must have a lot of personality to wear certain creations and wear them in the right way.

  4. Oh,my....Absolutely great post about very special person and very talented designer Anya Caliendo!!!!!!!

    Thank you So very much,dear Little Rus for share all these information including designs of Anya;-)*

    She is one of the mostly inspired person for me!!!
    She is beyond intelligent,elegant,great talented and stylish woman!Adore her stylein everything:-)))*


  5. Absolutely beautiful! I love millinery and those designs are fabulous

  6. I am absolutely in love with the last image, the yellow polka dots dress together with that magnificent and elegant hat. When I was a little girl, I was telling my mother that I will wear crinolines and hats like the ladies from the old movies. Thank you for your fabulous post!

  7. Fabulous post - so interesting - i love a hat and these hats are very very easy to love - thanks for the intro x

  8. This is such a wonderful glimpse into her life--and those hats are amazing (that doesn't even begin to describe them!) And please don't feel silly--I don't write about my line that often and so it's pretty common that people dont' realize I'm a designer from my blog. Thanks for your sweet comment about my new line!

    xo Mary Jo

  9. What an inspiring story! and gorgeous images, as always! truly dreamy!

  10. great interview, it was very interesting to read it :)


    Fashion Fractions

  11. Hello,

    great photos.I like the styl.

    hugs Conny

  12. Very inspiring. I remember Ada's post about her latest creation. Wonderful to see more hats ;-)

  13. Wow both she and her creations are truly amazing.

    Lots of love from Sydney,

    x Kel

    the birthday dress

  14. Hey darling ! thanks for your comment on my blog !

    This post is amazing ! very inspiring ! I'm loving your blog and following you and hope you love my blog and follow me too !


  15. i love the one she did for donna karen. i don't wear hats much, but i would wear that one in a milasecond!

  16. I am lucky enough to live so close to her store front and get to see all the beautiful work she does. I am also lucky to know Anya, and her family. A warm, classy, talented and beautiful women.