Master hatmaker in Milan: Lorenzo Borghi

In Italy many artisans have become unique in the world thanks to their work, style and passion. This is the case of the master hatmaker Lorenzo Borghi.

In a narrow street hidden in a labyrinth of picturesque alleys behind the Duomo, the landmark cathedral in the centre of Milan. It seems an unlikely location for a modest shop that welcomes clients from all over the world. There is nothing more than a single display window with a handful of striking hats and a small sign to mark the entrance.

Hat with spilla

Hat with spilla

Inside his shop the master hatmaker Lorenzo Borghi has been working for nearly 60 years, creating elegant hats for clients ranging from well-heeled Milanese women to international royalty, including the British monarch Queen Elizabeth II who received one of his hats a decade ago.

Borghi was born into a poor family in wartime Milan in 1940. Desperate for a job, the young man lied about his age to secure a spot in the hat maker’s shop. When the owner learned the truth, Borghi had proven his worth in the atelier. The young Borghi had creative flair and a knack for selecting the right materials. A quick learner, he was also humble enough to keep a close eye on his employer, picking up whatever tricks of the trade he could. He moved past the more traditional styles embraced by his master and began adding details in silk, organza and stiffened lace that exploded in a burst of color.

After more than half a century of hat making, Borghi still believes the creation he loves the most is the hat he “hasn’t made yet”.


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