Deborah Olson’s love affair with fabric and form began in childhood. Her grandmother was a master seamstress who was as skilled with the needle as she was at creating her own patterns. Olson watched her grandmother transform bolts of cloth into magnificent clothing and was inspired to begin to create her own pieces. Soon, she became an accomplished seamstress in her own right, and began creating costumes for her local theater group.
When the young costume designer saw Woody Allen’s landmark film, Annie Hall in 1977, little did she know the film would launch a passion that would shape the trajectory of her life. Inspired by actress Diane Keaton’s iconic style, Olson began to wear fedoras. She viewed the hats as a symbol of feminine strength and sophistication and immediately incorporated them into her wardrobe. Her penchant for hats was noticed by her theater group, and when they staged a production of My Fair Lady, they asked the designer to tackle the large, Edwardian hats the idealized Gibson Girl, Eliza Doolittle, wears throughout much of the play. Armed with little more than the youthful moxie that makes all things possible, she threw herself into the project, and before she knew it, a new career was launched. She became a milliner.
As her skills grew, her client-based widened from costumed actors to women who wanted stylish, customized hats meant to be worn off-stage. When her talents were discovered by historic reenactment groups, her customer based broadened significantly. Fans of her period apparel introduced her to the Steampunk community, which is when she met current Pfister Artist in Residence, Stephanie Schultz. The pair instantly felt a creative connection and soon began collaborating professionally. The designers share a common artistic sensibility and found working together allowed each of them to grow as artists. She credits Schultz with introducing her to new styles, and introducing her hats to new audiences.
Deborah Olson will be one of the featured artists Stephanie Schultz has selected for the Gallery Night Makers Market hosted at The Pfister Hotel on Friday, July 20. More than 20 artists will offer their work for purchase as part of the night’s events. The milliner will showcase a variety of haute couture styles that pair nicely with the designs Schultz will present during Gallery Night and Day. She will also display derby hats, fascinators and whimsical hats designed to delight the fashion-forward wearer. An entry-level piece of her custom constructed headwear has a price point just below $100, making high style accessible to budget conscious fashionistas.
Learn more about Gallery Night at The Pfister Hotel here.