Niche market inspires fashion designer to create hats

Sitting at an event at Caesars Palace almost three years ago, Louisa Voisine stood out from the crowd wearing her elaborately designed, handmade hat.

“A man looked at me and said, ‘What made you think there was a need in Las Vegas for hats?’ ” she said. “I told him, ‘There wasn’t a need. I created one.’ ”

Voisine took her background in fashion and design to become a millinery, a person who designs women’s hats.

Whether it is for a fashion show or an everyday outing, her business is gaining momentum, she said.

Voisine was born and raised in Maine.

“It was a small town on the border of Canada and the United States,” she said. “All the people were very fashionable because it was so close to Canada.”

Her life centered around creativity, from the trends she saw from people in her town to her family’s ability to knit and sew almost any design.

“(The women in my family) could see a dress in a magazine and create it,” Voisine said.

She knew she wanted to attend college for fashion design.

But after college, she ended up in the travel industry working all over Europe and using her ability to speak to work as a translator.

She spent years abroad and decided it was time to follow her passion.

Voisine moved to Los Angeles to work in the film industry doing costume designs.

“I was very thankful when I got the opportunity,” she said. “It was a dream come true.”

She worked with stars such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sally Field and on projects ranging from “Miami Vice” to “Days of Our Lives.”

Even though she loved her industry, she moved to Henderson 23 years ago when her husband got a career opportunity.

When he died in 1999, she considered moving to jump back into her previous career.

“But people tell you don’t make any sudden moves after a tragedy,” she said.

Instead, she started an interior design company locally.

The opportunity allowed her to dress showrooms of model homes across the city.

When the housing crisis hit Nevada, her business was also hurt.

She took various sales jobs until three years ago, when she felt called to make a change.

“I just woke up and knew what I wanted to do,” she said. “Not a lot of people wore hats in Las Vegas, but I knew a trend was beginning to change.”

With the rise of popular television shows such as “Downton Abbey,” she has seen the style return.

Since she has started her business, she has been featured at the pre-Emmy Awards show this year and has been invited to be at the pre-Academy Awards show in 2014. Her designs have also been seen at the Kentucky Derby.

This year, Voisine won the most glamourous hat design at the Del Mar horse races in California and the Kentucky Derby Party & Hat Contest.

She has attracted many customers and organizations throughout the valley, too.

“She really just brings her designs to life,” said Laura Zimmerman, a customer.

Zimmerman discovered Voisine’s hats when she was at an event.

“She is bringing a resurgence of hats back,” Zimmerman said.

When it comes to designing a line for a fashion show, Voisine said music is her greatest muse.

However, when designing a single hat, ideas just come to her. She has no explanation regarding from where her inspiration derives.

“I know it sounds strange, but that is how it works,” she said. “I tell myself, ‘Tonight, I’m going to sit down and make a hat.’ And I do.”

She spends hours — sometimes up to four days — making a hat.

Her goal is to eventually have a hat manufacturing facility in Henderson.

Because she feels the craft of hat making is underutilized, Voisine hopes to take on an apprentice one day.

“People come into fashion design and think they want to make dresses or purses,” she said. “They don’t always think about hats. I want to teach someone so they carry this on.”

For more information, visit or call 702-375-1209.

Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at of 702-387-5201.

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