Toronto: Meet the Hat Maker to Hollywood's Stars

Courtesy of subject
Karyn Ruiz

One of Canada's pre-eminent milliners, Karyn Ruiz has handcrafted hats for the likes of Rachel McAdams and Whoopi Goldberg.

If you’re seeking protection from the sun or spiffing up your look, step out of the shadows with distinctive headwear from Lilliput Hats. One of Canada’s pre-eminent milliners (the industry term for a maker or designer of women’s hats), Karyn Ruiz has been handcrafting hats for 30 years.

Her College Street shop/atelier in Toronto’s Little Italy feels like a time machine. Ruiz’s vintage-inspired creations, and her collection of new and antique hat blocks, are on prominent display. No stranger to the stars, Ruiz has fashioned hats for Rachel McAdams and Whoopi Goldberg.

She also contributed one of her signature berets to Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water. “I made three hats for continuity purposes, but only one appears onscreen for a few seconds,” she says with a laugh.

Fashion trends for hats are all over the place, explains Ruiz, but she favors a vintage vibe. Fedoras are perfect for men seeking a classic style and for women emulating Diane Keaton’s timeless gender-bending Annie Hall look. For an evening event or a party, she recommends women try a fascinator — an small sculptural piece worn on a headband — or a whimsical cocktail hat.

The hat should not cover the face and should “look fabulous at every angle,” she explains. “It should complement the outfit, not overtake it.” Ruiz’s creations are available online and at her Little Italy location. Custom pieces can be ready in as little as 24 hours.

Lilliput Hats: 462 College St., Toronto 416-536-5933

This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter's Sept. 8 daily issue at the Toronto International Film Festival.