Hip, Hip, Beret
Bingo. Within months, Barneys New York was selling the master milliner's whimsical designs, and celebs including Jennifer Lopez, Madonna and Cameron Diaz became customers. On June 7 the Council of Fashion Designers of America recognized Kim, 30, with its prestigious accessories award. "Her hats are playful and sexy," says Julie Gilhart, fashion director at Barneys. "Like sculpture for the head."
Raised outside Pittsburgh, Kim had originally planned to be a doctor like her dad. But after graduating from Dartmouth in 1996 with a psychology degree, she took a day job in publishing and explored her interest in fashion through part-time classes. Nowadays she lives over her East Village shop and sells her hats, ranging from $65 visors to $1,300 custom fur designs, in 120 stores worldwide. Although her clientele has grown to include Christina Aguilera, Kirsten Dunst and other stars, she's usually oblivious to bold-name shoppers. "I never even recognize celebrities," she says, "until I see their name on their credit card."