by Chris Harris
That Garrison Girl, The Art of the Hat, is an entertaining and informative manual for women who love wearing hats. Written by award-winning Atlanta-based designer and milliner Chris Harris, the book recounts her many influences and experiences creating and selling custom millinery to discriminating women throughout America.
Chris Harris is That Garrison Girl. After several years designing costumes for theatrical, film and entertainment productions in Hollywood, she turned her attention to creating one-of-a-kind hats and women’s accessories in a custom line, That Garrison Girl.
She grew up as Chris Garrison in a small North Georgia town, the daughter of a father who enjoyed making wooden toys and a resourceful mother who sewed clothes and made dolls. When Chris began stylizing designs of her own, people in town would ask, “Who made that?” The answer would usually be, “That Garrison Girl.”
Her fine couture millinery has been featured in exclusive women’s specialty shops and fine boutiques throughout the eastern United States and California, and her flair for original design is represented in each of her hats. In 2013 and again in 2014 she was the was the recipient of the “Best of Alpharetta Award for Millinery”.
“After graduating from the University of Georgia with a degree in Graphic Arts, I began designing costumes for theatrical productions in Atlanta, collecting hats and vintage clothing as a hobby. I always loved wearing hats. A few years later, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career and got a job working at Warner Bros. in Burbank as a ‘temp’. Everyday I’d wear a different hat that I made to another department on the lot. People began stopping me when the hat I was wearing caught their eye, and I started selling them off my head to actresses and studio employees. I became known on the lot as the ‘Hat Lady’. When I would audition for theatrical roles or commercials, I sometimes wore hats to my casting calls – even when I didn’t get the part, I often sold the hat!”
“My first excursions into millinery were hats that I built on my own head and on kitchen pots! They had a very 1920’s period ambience – each completely original. I hand-dyed them and often shaped flowers directly into the fabric. Trims were made separately, with the ribbons, bands and florals all interchangeable.”
“Since my hats have no front or back, when trying one on by simply giving the hat little quarter-turns, you can create entirely different looks. I want my clients to feel special when wearing a That Garrison Girl hat, so I add little accoutréments and hand-dyed lace appliqués to make each hat special unto itself. My hats are colorful, elegant and dramatic, no two alike, all hand-shaped, each an original statement – each a hat with a personality all its own!”