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graceful butterfly millinery international hatty award winner


I was one of the winners of the 2012 Hatty Awards organized by Hat Life, which was established in 1872. I am so honored by this special gift of recognition for my creative work that it actually made me weep with pure joy. Believing in myself is something my mother always instilled within me...I call it my inner sunbeams that were ignited by her loving I want to thank her for weaving this beautiful ingredient within me. I also want to congratulate the other winners and everyone who took part in this millinery contest. We inspire one another and share in our love of hats!!!  Thank You Hat Life for acknowledging my artistic have beautifully lit the flame of passion within my millinery heart.




I am honored to have been chosen as one of the winners in the Mad Hatters Society Hat one-of-a=kind original hat design titled "The Dash" won Most Brilliant Retro Style.  What a joy felt deep within my creative heart!  Thank you Brenda Grantland and Mary Robak of Mad Hatters Society for creating this lovely millinery page and to Diane Feen of HatLife for judging this contest.  I have to be honest and say that I haven't won a contest since I was 5 years old when I won an xylophone for a crayola coloring with that said, this new contest win has definitely added a feather in my hat!!!  Congratulations to all of the winners and everyone who entered...we are sweetly bound together by our love of hats!  You can read the article regarding the contest in the May 2012 issue of Hat Life...




I was hired by the costume designer of Opera Australia to design eight hats for their production of

Puccini’s La Bohème 2011 I am overjoyed and heartfully thankful knowing that Opera Australia kindly asked me to design a collection of eight hats for their production of La Bohème, which is set in the 1930''s one of the most wonderful opportunities in my career as a hat designer...I'm quite thankful for this wondrous gift bestowed upon me...from the bottom of my graceful heart...



I was honored to be asked to design a one-of-a-kind original hat for a lovely young woman for the Kentucky Derby this year. She gave me quite a challenge to create the hat to match her zebra print and purple snakeskin shoes. I just finished sewing it all together and she was quite pleased with the design.



I have to hat design business is sweetly flowing like a river. Walt Disney MGM Studios contacted me on my birthday a few days ago and asked if they can purchase one of my wondrous a gift to my creative spirit!!! I'm truly overjoyed knowing that my designs have been admired from makes designing them so much more soul artistic butterfly wings are fluttering in delightful flight...




I am finally finished with my hat collection for the Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong. They kindly offered me a job to design them 12 hats for the opening of their Salon de Ning Boudoir Room. They wanted hats designed in vintage fashion of the 1920's-1930's. I am truly honored by their offer. Knowing that my hats are displayed in one of the finest hotels in the world has surely set my creative wings soaring to the heavens...



I was asked to design a one-of-a-kind original headpiece reminiscent of the roaring 20's. It was for a delightful woman in London who was attending the Royal Ascot races in the United Kingdom. She will be sitting in the Royal Enclosure, also know as the Queen's Court, which has my creative wings fluttering in artistic splendor. What an honor to design for such a special occasion...I am truly blessed. This beautiful headpiece was created with an exquisite silk embroidered and beaded 1920's panel from a vintage dress I managed to salvage. It lovingly drapes down the back of the neck and is truly breathtaking. I wrapped the band with a gorgeous French embroidered lace...ooh la la...lovely!!!



I was delighted to have been asked to be interviewed by Skyline about the hat I designed for a young woman attending the Kentucky Derby this year. At first I was a bit nervous about it, but I was calmed by the soft spirit of the lovely woman interviewing me...Felicia Dechter. I want to gracefully thank her for taking the time to write about my artistic work within her beautifully written article...




"Heart of the 'Hood"


Sonia Caceres has sold her one-of-a-kind, vintage hats all over the world. There’s the chapeau she created for Walt Disney’s MGM Studios and the dozen she recently designed for the Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong’s Salon de Ning’s Boudoir Room, which will use them as lampshades. Yet creating those toppers were a cinch compared to what Caceres put together for a North Carolina woman to don Saturday at the Kentucky Derby. “She sent a picture of the shoes she wanted to match a hat to,” explained Caceres, a North Sider who owns the online millinery shop Graceful Butterfly Design. “They were purple snakeskin with a zebra-print band!” So Caceres created the perfect hat for the woman to wear while sipping her mint julep. It’s black, with a big purple silk flower, purple ostrich feathers and a band of zebra-striped ribbon. “It was really challenging,” said Caceres, an alum of LeMoyne Elementary in Lake View. “But she e-mailed me and said it matched perfectly.” For anyone who knows Caceres, that perfect match is no surprise. Had she had a past life, it would no doubt have been as a beautiful Gibson Girl or Roaring ’20s flapper. Some of you may even remember the boutique Caceres once operating on Armitage Avenue in Lincoln Park, called Sonia Simone. Filled with sweet trinkets, treasures and romance, the store was “a potpourri of vintage opulence.” Caceres closed the boutique in 2002, and about three years ago, with leftover inventory, she started designing hats and created Graceful Butterfly Design. She has now sold hundreds of the beauties taking “boring and plain” vintage and sprucing them up with all sorts of fun and decorative items, including beltbuckles and even wind chimes. Caceres says she’s doing her part to recycle and be green, and each hat is one-of-a-kind. “I take vintage elements and reincarnate them into my hat designs,” said Caceres, who is self-taught and shops estate sales and antique markets here and in faraway lands like Morocco, Paris and Spain. “That’s my little contribution.” She said the customer usually gives her a color and idea for the brim, “and they actually let me do my own thing.” Caceres never draws anything out. She dips into her drawers filled with flowers and ribbons and all sorts of pretty and whimsical pieces and then, “They start to speak to me and I take it from there. On a table in Caceres’ studio sits a box of 64 Crayolas, reminding her of where her artistic abilities began. She said she started coloring at 3, and after winning a xylophone in a coloring contest at 4, she was hooked. Later in life though, in the 1980s, it was mad-hatter Raymond Hudd’s creations and his Lincoln Park millinery shop that profoundly influenced Caceres. “I think he planted the seed,” she said. “It was like eye candy to me, the whole store. It inspired me and I didn’t even realize it.”Today, you can find Caceres’ designs at  “All my hats are one-of-a-kind,” said Caceres. “I never make anything twice.”


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