Framing the Intellect

An interview with our alumna and milliner Eleonora Bruno

Polimoda People

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Artist by nature, now a milliner extraordinaire, Eleonora Bruno has proved the depth of her skill at a lightning-fast pace since graduating from Polimoda in 2012. The Polimoda Talent winner and founder of couture hat label ELY.B has garnered international applause for her work, landing features in top magazines – from Vogue to Harper’s Bazaar, Grazia and L’Officiel – in addition to fostering collaborations with international celebrities and fashion icons the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Bulgari and Karl Lagerfeld.

The milliner’s exemplary oeuvres can well be considered personalities of their own; called compositions to wear, Bruno toys with unusual selections of objects to craft a singular exuberant style, combining a background in the arts with her technical dexterity. After an array of recent impressive spotlights, we caught up with the Florentine talent to hear more about life since Polimoda, exploring her thoughts on millinery, her creative inspiration and the future of her brand.

How would you define ELY.B in three words?

Feminine. Iconic. Brave.

Your background is in both fashion and the arts. Can you tell us what lead you to becoming a fashion designer?

The union between the two, I imagine.

I was born in Florence, but I spent the first part of my youth in the post-revolutionary Bucharest of the 90s. Thanks to my mother’s foresight, I undertook artistic studies as a child under the guidance of an art professor, which I consider the main support of my art today. Being followed so closely in my artistic endeavors caused my imagination to evolve: it found its outlet in fashion, and in my desire to express through fashion.

You were one of the two winners of Polimoda Talent 2016. What professional route did you take after completing your studies?

Winning the Polimoda Talent was a wonderful opportunity, as I was able to better structure my “dream” from a business point of view. Unfortunately, we creatives don’t always have a knack for numbers… but we can learn.

Eleonora Bruno - Atelier

Can you tell us more about your philosophy, “Important hats for intelligent minds”?

The concept behind this motto is quite broad. Despite having initially formed my fashion background in clothing, creating accessories to be worn on a woman’s head intrigued me even more.

A hat is like a beautiful frame for a painting, and behind this frame there is a work of art, which in my case is female intelligence praised through my creations.

It is simply a decoration for the most important part of the woman’s body: her brain!

Eleonora Bruno - Atelier

You were asked to create custom turbans for the Bulgari High Jewelry Collection Presentation Wild Pop, and more recently composed feathered headpieces for the Intimissimi 2018 runway show. What was that collaboration like? What do these brand collaborations generally entail?

It is first and foremost an honor; more and more brands should place their trust in young designers/creatives like myself.

It’s really important, since collaborating with maisons of such high caliber causes growth, in every possible way. In addition to being both stimulating and of great value, the work also bears a great responsibility: errors and uncertainty are simply not allowed.

With the Intimissimi show, I was able to be in close contact with top fashion professionals, like Viviana Volpicella, who was a strong proponent for having me create all the feathered headdresses for the Enchanted Garden show. It was a unique journey and experience, of great growth and value for my work.

Your work is known for being incredibly imaginative, composition-like in nature, often imbued with floral elements, feathers and other striking materials. Can you comment more on what inspires your creation of a headpiece?

I usually never start from a sketch; I imagine it in my mind and then I leave my hands to create it.

I let myself be inspired by the materials, by a combination of colors that I perhaps notice while driving through the streets, or I let myself be inspired by my magazines from the 1920-40s (which I zealously guard).

What I most enjoy is combining materials that seemingly have nothing in common, but find their balance only when placed together.

Eleonora Bruno - Atelier

What do you find particular about hat design that differentiates it from other fields in fashion?

What many may overlook about millinery are the long hours and extensive layers of manufacturing that lead to the creation of a singular piece. It’s a profession that forms patience and being accustomed to waiting, waiting for the final result. Like for a beautiful Haute Couture dress. Those who love hats can’t be without them, like those who can’t resist a pair of shoes or a beautiful bag. The difference I find with hats is the attitude: not everyone is good at wearing them!

Do you have a favorite headpiece out of your many creations?

Every headpiece that I’ve created has a story, with my own reflected upon that.

If I think about when I started creating my first headpieces, I can remember the reason why I began, that is, to transform sentiment – to take sadness, a certain emotion, and turn it into something tangible, like the outcome of a great therapy session with the best psychologist in the world!

So I don’t have a favorite; it would be like choosing your favorite child.

Do you believe that some people are “hat people” and some are simply better without?

I think there is a model that suits every type of face, but no single hat that suits everyone. Not everywhere is capable of wearing a hat: you need confidence, courage and character.

Define hat.

Useless but indispensable!

What’s the future of ELY.B?

I’m working on various projects at the moment, one of which is launching the ELY.B e-commerce platform. As to the rest, I can only hope to never lose the thrill I feel when I sit down and begin to create.