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Perth, Ont. hat maker headed to Milan, Italy for Fashion Week

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In just a few short years, a hat maker in Perth, Ont., has ascended to the pinnacle of fashion.

Queen Bee Millinery, located in downtown Perth, has been invited to the first ever International Hat Exhibition in Milan, Italy from Feb. 16 to 18 for Milan Fashion Week.

"When Milan calls, you just say yes," said Ranelle Larocque, owner of Queen Bee Millinery. "It's an automatic yes."

The journey to the fashion capital of the world has been a rapid one for Larocque, who only started making hats six years ago, made it her professional five years ago, and opened her boutique four years ago.

"I make headwear for the races; that's my specialty," she tells CTV News.

"So if you're going to Royal Ascot or the Kentucky Derby or the Kings Plate here in Canada, I tend to make most of my hats for those."

After fashioning such unique pieces, Larocque got the invitation in December and will be one of 12 milliners attending.

"I am the only Canadian that's going to be there which is really amazing. There's milliners from all over the world," she said.

"I'm really excited to showcase Canadian talent and fashion, and just showing that hats are still relevant in fashion and Canadian fashions."

Queen Bee Millinery is currently closed for the month of February as Larocque creates new designs to feature at the event.

The theme of the first ever International Hat Exhibition is "The Queen's Hat", dedicated to Queen Elizabeth II and her influence on headwear.

"People were always looking to see what she was wearing for a hat and she had a spectacular collection," said Larocque.

"Not only her but the whole royal family really kept millinery alive when it had kind of declined quite a bit."

Larocque's stand out piece will be a hat featuring a black handbag adorned with flowers.

"The Queen's handbag was a powerful messenger," she explains. "It told her people, I'm ready to move along or I need this, that, or the other thing."

All the pieces Larocque makes and sells are custom and handmade, taking between 25 to 65 hours each.

She retails her custom creations anywhere from $600 to $1,500. 

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