Cap It Off

Lore Emelio dreamed of a career in fashion, and now she’s found a hit with hats
Lore Emelio's studio is located at 1125 E. Morehead St. Suite 108.

At 6 years old, Lore Emelio pulled the ruffled skirt off her bed and pinned the fabric around her body to create her first dress. Then, she made her first hat. It wasn’t long before she knew that fashion was her calling.

She went on to college at the University of North Carolina, where she tried to get the costume department to offer fashion design as a major. When they said no, she wasn’t discouraged. She had a talk with her art professor, who encouraged her to concentrate on her drawing skills. “I used to think that if I could draw, I would be a fashion major, but I just wasn’t good at it,” she says. “When my art professor told me that drawing isn’t some magic skill, that it’s like learning a language, that’s when I learned.”

After college, she worked for a year at a nonprofit and took art classes before being accepted into Parsons School of Design in New York City. After she finished school, she decided to move to Charlotte. “I liked the idea of having a house and grass,” she says. “And I felt like Charlotte had enough going on that it would be able to support a design studio.”

Now, Emelio runs her own studio on McDonald Avenue and hosts fashion camps for kids in the summer. “Last year, we had our first camp. We started with four sessions, which turned into six sessions, and this summer we offered 20,” Emelio says. The camps instill confidence in the kids to pursue fashion design in the future. “It feels good to know that there are 40 young designers out there who have the confidence to go to Parsons and work at Chanel or Ralph Lauren,” Emelio says. “I’m enabling young people to do it.”

For this fall fashion season, Emelio produced a new line of custom hats for women. The hats come in dark, rich, jewel tones. Her inspiration came from Venetian masks, which she says provide a touch of history, elegance, and luxury. Fascinators—or mini-hats that are attached to headbands or clip into hair—are also making a comeback after being seen on Kate Middleton and in the latest film adaptation of The Great Gatsby. Emelio custom-makes her fascinators.

Her dream is for Charlotte to become a fashion hub in the near future. “Anything is possible here,” she says. “People who want to be involved in fashion can experiment. There’s a little bit of vigor and competition in this city, and that’s not a bad thing.”