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Handmade Couture Hats Created by NE Milliner Karen Morris

Article and photos by Merle Minda

A Karen Morris Millinery spring lineup.

“Does anyone still wear a hat?” was belted out by award-winning Broadway actress Elaine Stritch in Stephen Sondheim’s Company in 1971. It was a lyric from “The Ladies Who Lunch” and was the standout song from the show – Elaine won one of her four Tony Awards for her show-stopping performance.

A “Fascinator” for spring.Today we are all wearing hats and more hats, beyond fashion expectations. Perhaps because we are so enamored of England’s Royal family – Diana wore hats beautifully and now the new princesses are wearing hats, from “fascinators” to fedoras. With the Royal Wedding coming up we are sure to see more. The Royal Ascot Enclosure is ideal for hat-watching, and in the U.S., the Kentucky Derby, where hats are ‘de rigueur.’ Plus most women look good in hats and, in Minnesota; hats can be warm and cozy too.

Many well-known hat designers are gone now: Lily Daché, Schiaparelli, Tatiana of Saks and Hattie Carnegie – but Philip Treacy is the current famed favorite and hatmaker to the Royals including the almost-Princess, Meghan Markle.

So where does that leave us here in NE Minneapolis? Happily, we have our own couture hat designer: Karen Morris Millinery with a showroom handy on Hennepin Avenue between 3rd and 4th.

Karen Morris in her showroom.

This hat is truly fun to wear!Karen is an expat from Hong Kong, coming here with her Minneapolis husband in 2009. She was in marketing there but had a strong yen to become a fashion designer. She has now made that transition, designing the most gorgeous hats you could ever hope to find. She even attended the Royal Ascot event in England, where she was motivated to start designing hats.

Now her hats are featured in shops around the world, including Australia, the United Kingdom, and the UAE. Locally you can find her hats at Dugo in the Galleria, Frank Murphy in White Bear Lake, and Scarborough Fair in St. Paul. Her hats are online, and in the Kentucky Derby online shop as well.

Another gorgeous one!

Easiest is to make an appointment with Karen at her NE shop, and you can see the full spring line for yourself. All of Karen’s hats are handmade in a variety of shapes and textures – and they are gorgeous. Even practical! Karen Morris hats are shown in many fashion shows around town, or you can order online. Go in for an appointment though, because then your hat choice is fitted and made for your head exactly, and you have a wide choice of fabrics, materials, colors and trimmings to choose from.

I walked out with this one!This spring her hats will be shown at Minnstafashion, Spring 2018 on April 19th at the W Hotel, and again at the April 26th Studio Progressive: A Minnesota Fashion Week Event at Northrup King Building in NE Minneapolis, and then on the 28th at the Galleria. Following the success of her collections, she has been featured in American Craft Shows, Smithsonian Craft Show, New York African Fashion Show, Pure London Show, ELLE, Pioneer and Star Tribune press and PBS’ MN Original series.

Quality, originality and simple elegance are the Karen Morris hallmark. Pricing is not too bad either, with hats starting at $195 for a summer straw.

So, we have a famous hat designer right on our own NE doorstep. Who knew?

Karen Morris Millinery is located at 326 E Hennepin Avenue. Phone 612-839-4857; follow on InstagramFacebook and Twitter. Email

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About Merle Minda

Journalist and free-lance writer Merle Minda writes about travel, business, people profiles and other subjects for a number of national and regional publications, including Delta SKY, Mpls/St. Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Business, Star Tribune, Twin Cities Statement, Minnesota Monthly, and now Mill City Times. She can be reached at or on the web.

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