About the Artist...

 

Sonia Caceres is a self-taught milliner inspired by the beauty of vintage and modern fashion. Graceful Butterfly Millinery is a winner of the international Hatty Award. each hat and headpiece is a one-of-a-kind original design created with love...

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Milliner

Sonia Caceres

 

I was gracefully honored to be interviewed by The Vintage Shopping Guide. I was asked a series of questions regarding my business and how it evolved...what inspires me and where I discover my vintage treasures.  sharing a bit of me...

 

Vintage Shopping Guide Interview with Graceful Butterfly designer Sonia Caceres

 

While surfing the super highway for vintage hats for the VSG gift giving blog, I came across Graceful Butterfly Hat Design and fell head over heels for the gorgeous vintage inspired hats. They are like nothing I’ve ever seen before! They are all hand made by Sonia Caceres. Her creative spirit will inspire you to find your own passion in life...

 

Follow my yellow brick road...

I owned a vintage store here in Chicago for 12 years. The shop evolved from my collection of beautiful items from the past that I had gathered through time. I had accumulated so many treasures that I was inspired to open a shop of my own, offering sweet little trinkets for others to feather their nest with. My shop was quite feminine and French in style, and also in name, Sonia Simone. The store echoed the romantic style of the Belle Epoch era with a mélange of 1920's and 30's infused within it; a potpourri of vintage opulence. I filled it with beautiful offerings of antique furniture, paintings and vintage home decor, along with vintage fashion and accessories. I also designed one-of-a-kind jewelry made from vintage beads, buttons and baubles, which blended nicely with the decor. I adored the creation of window displays and vignettes within my shop. That was much more pleasing to my artistic spirit than sitting in there and trying to sell my wares. My true passion was within the design, whether it was a store display or decorating a vintage hat. I truly realized the importance of that adoring aspect as time went on. So, I followed that path and closed the shop to follow my personal yellow brick road...

 

A new business takes flight...
My passion for design led me to creating hats in 2009. My clairvoyant connection to the 1920's inspired my creative work. I started my hat design business by revamping some vintage hats I already had from my shop inventory. I wanted to deplete my vintage stock and thought that the hats I had were a bit boring and needed to be spruced up a bit. I wanted to add my own special touch to them. Through that recreation, I realized that people liked the designs I had to offer. That realization surely ignited my creative wings and set them off into graceful flight. I didn't want to use my real name Sonia Caceres as a business name, because I deeply felt my hat designs had their own wings to fly with and my business had transformed itself like that of a butterfly; hence my new business name, Graceful Butterfly, in honor of my metamorphosis...

 

Starting from scratch...

I don't do research for hat designs, but I do admire the designs of true 1920's vintage hats. They are quite inspiring. In all honesty, I let the elements that I work with guide me. First, I figure out a color and fabric I want to work with. Then I pull out components in my inventory boxes and let those pieces inspire my creative work. It all starts with one small piece and I build from there. It's amazing how a single piece can inspire a whole hat design, but it does for me. I feel so connected to the 1920's, as if I had lived during that time. The fashion of that era speaks to me like no other. It feels so familiar, as if I was a part of the making of its history. I've been in a relationship with that time period since I was a child. I can remember walking down the cobblestone streets of "Yesterday's Main Street Exhibit" at the Museum of Science and Industry here in Chicago when I was about 6. As I stepped down the street and peered in the old fashioned storefront windows, I felt the connection within me. I was comforted by the days of yesteryear as a child and still feel quite inspired by the fashion of that time period. An old soul I truly am. That I know. It makes me giggle thinking that I must've been a flapper girl in another life...

 

Professional admiration...

Being that I'm from Chicago, there are a couple of famous milliners whose work I find extremely inspiring: Raymond Hudd and Bes-Ben; two Chicago hat designers whose body of work has lasted through time. Raymond I've met...he use to stop by my antique shop to visit me.  I had visited his design shop back in the 80's. What a treat for my senses that was! Breathing in all of his artistic energy, which permeated his entire studio! He's such a sweetheart of a man, so being able to meet him was an honor in itself. I guess in afterthought, he might've been my true inspiration when I walked into his design shop years before I even started designing myself. The seed was planted in my creative soul that day as I gazed upon his beautiful artwork. Truly a gifted man who left a gift within me. All of my loved ones inspire me. They are what feeds my spirited heart. My family, my friends, my dog...all of them complete me. I wouldn't be who I am without them. My mother instilled a wonderfully strong sense of self esteem within me. My father, who has passed on and I deeply miss, left his graceful heart beating within me. Both of my loving parents are the true essence of my being. I treasure the gifts they both instilled in me. They recognized my creativity as a child and let it tenderly flourish. I am grateful to them for enriching my path in life and showering it with their wondrous sunbeams...

 

For your eyes only...

I love estate sales! There are so many in Chicago every week, so I never run out of places to gather my treasures. You never know where your secret treasure is hiding! But if it is meant to be yours, it is for your eyes only. That I truly believe. I also adore shopping in faraway lands. When I was visiting Morocco, I spent endless hours browsing the medinas for passementerie shops. In Paris, I frequented the outdoor antique markets for charming French antiquities. In Spain, I walked the cobblestone streets admiring the hand painted lace and silk fans and the exquisite hand embroidered shawls. Each experience has left my mind with amazing memories that will last me a lifetime.


Fabulous finds...

My friend is a contractor, and was cleaning out the basement of a retired antique appraiser on the affluent north shore area in Chicago. She gave him boxes of items that she felt she had no need for anymore. They were filled with beautiful antique porcelain and glass, which I eventually sold off on Ebay.However, amongst the boxes sat an exquisite spool silk thread display box in perfect condition. The box was made of antique oak with glass drawers and faceted floral glass knobs with the original hand painted sign in gold leaf reading "Richardson's Silk Company" outlined in black. It sweetly sits on black wrought iron sewing machine legs, complete with the original treadle. A beautiful treasure for my eyes to behold! I can imagine it sitting in a fabric shop at the turn of the 20th century; milliners picking out their silk threads for their latest hat designs. A lovely thought for a modern hat designer indeed.

 

Taking flight...
I have to say...I never know where my path will lead me...but I do know that wherever it twists and turns it will surely be a creative path. My hats have been sold all over the world in just a few years, and I just sold a hat to Walt Disney MGM Studios! I also recently finished a 12 hat collection for the Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong for the opening of their Salon de Ning Boudoir Room, so these feats have surely uplifted my creative wings to the deep blue heavens. I've currently been working on a bit of fashion design; vintage pieces with new elements sewn on. Re-creation; my personal green project; recycling what I already have and making it new again. It's akin to the metamorphosis of a butterfly. It once was a fuzzy little caterpillar and now is delightfully spreading its beautiful butterfly wings, never knowing where it will sweetly land...truly a Graceful Butterfly!