You can see it at the Smithsonian museum!

A Luke Song original design was worn by Aretha Franklin,

The Queen of Soul, for her performance during the historical 2009

Presidential Inauguration. 

Aretha Franklin's Hat Designer Live In Studio


Published : Friday, 12 Nov 2010, 6:02 PM EST

Aretha Franklin's hat designer stopped by  FOX 2's studio to help Deena Centofanti pick out a hat for a brunch she is being honored at Nov. 14.

Mr Song's Inaugural Hat is on exhibit at the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame

Damon Wayans Red Hat novel: Mr Song hats on front and back covers


EASTER 2009: Tip O' The Hat

At President Obama’s Inauguration, Aretha Franklin delivered a powerful rendition of ”My Country Tis of Thee." But it was her hat that caught the attention of the world.


Nancy Giles meets the man behind the hat. His name is Luke Song and his shop, Mr. Song Millinery, has been a staple in Detroit since 1982.

Song has been called an ”accidental milliner“ because neither he nor his family expected him to go into the family business. He studied biochemistry in college, thinking he’d become a doctor. And then he studied art in New York City. But when he returned to Detroit in 1997, he was inspired to create a hat out of chicken wire that became an instant hit with customers and allowed him to pay off his student loans within a year.

Last Updated: April 14. 2010 1:00AM

Hats off to Mr. Song and his chapeaus

March 10, 2010...8:00 am

A Headband Apart

The Rhinestone Juliet

Your hair has been cooped up under winter hats since November – it’s flat, tired, and just itching to see the light of day.

And now that the Detroit weather has finally broken 50 degrees, you can toss your hat aside and let your tresses tousle in the fresh spring air.

Celebrate the emancipation of your hair by adorning it with a chic headband from Mr. Song’s spring collection. The bands are easy to wear because the versatile little things go from casual to cocktail with their curled feathers, jewels, rhinestones, satin, and ribbon. But if you’re looking for something more one of a kind, he makes custom headbands too.

The Detroit millinery (and maker of Aretha Franklin’s famous inaugural bow hat) stepped into the band business five years ago as an alternative to its signature church hats. And although the store moved from its location on Woodward in Detroit to Southfield, DGAT still considers Mr. Song’s jewel encrusted headbands a necessity for fabulous spring hair.

We know Ms. Franklin would agree… because Mr. Song even makes inaugural bow headbands.



Check out links in Facebook:

   Added On December 4, 2009

Business All About the Hats

A Michigan hat designer answers the call of duty and gains national acclaim on this week's Small Business Success.


Small Business Success: News & Videos about Small Business Success --

May 13, 2011

Dare A Head Go Bare? Not At This Royal Wedding  by NPR Staff

to the Nines!  Fashion Show at the Museum

spectacular exhibition fashion & photographs - November 14, 2009

Here is a link to check out some of the highlights from the events...

To the Nines gala at the Detroit Institute of Arts


home of the San Francisco Chronicle

In Berkeley, Aretha's hat man on top of world

Carolyn Jones, Chronicle Staff Writer

Saturday, April 25, 2009

For the churchgoing crowd, it was as if Moses himself stepped into the Berkeley Hat Co. on Friday.

Women oohed and aahed, autographs were bestowed, hugs and nervous smiles abounded.

Luke Song, the Detroit milliner who designed the crystal-studded bow hat that Aretha Franklin wore to President Obama's inauguration and that has since become an international fashion sensation, paid an hourlong visit to the Telegraph Avenue hat boutique to meet adoring fans.

"I haven't seen Aretha look that good in years," said Brenda Bruner, a retired Oakland teacher, as she chatted with Song in  the standing-room-only boutique. "I saw her in that hat, and I said, 'That's the bomb.' "

Mild-mannered and modest, Song graciously signed autographs, helped women try on his creations, and talked about Franklin and her world-famous chapeau.

The hat, now enshrined in the Smithsonian, came into being when the Queen of Soul told her favorite milliner she needed something special for the inauguration. Franklin, who lives in Detroit, had been a regular customer at Song's family hat shop for years.

"Three words describe how I felt," Song said. "Thrilled. Honored. And then just plain scared. I knew the hat would be seen by a billion people, and it had to be perfect."

Song and Franklin worked together to create the hat, deciding finally on heavy gray felt to match her wool coat, and adorned with a large bow outlined in tiny crystals.

"She's a bigger-than-life character, so it had to match her personality," Sing said. "But we didn't want to overshadow the event. Our main focus was always Obama."

At least in fashion circles, the hat overshadowed nearly everything that day. Song's phone started ringing even before Franklin finished singing "My Country 'Tis of Thee." First to call was Glamour magazine, followed by the New York Times and a slew of European fashion magazines.

Suddenly Song, 36, a South Korean native who had been toiling for years in his family's hat shop, was an international fashion celebrity. The family's business exploded. Before the inauguration, the staff made about 100 hats a day. Now they make more than 500 a day. They've shipped more than 5,000 copies of Franklin's hat, known simply as "the Aretha," retailing at about $180.

Linda Ware and her husband, the Rev. James Ware, drove from Pittsburg for Friday's event.

"Man, I just love bows," said Linda Ware as she tried on the Aretha. "When I saw this hat, I knew I had to have it. Not because Aretha wore it, but because of the bow."


Her husband had his credit card ready.  "If she wants it, it's hers," he said with a patient smile. "She's the real first lady."  Syblene Jones of Oakland said she was not impressed with the bow. She prefers her hats more understated. Song, however, got her attention.

"The bow is all right for young people," she said. "But this man - let me shake his hand. This is a big deal for him to be here."

Carol Dougherty, owner of Berkeley Hat Co., said she invited Song to her store when she learned he was coming to the Bay Area to visit friends from college. He is not on a hat tour - he just wanted to meet Dougherty and her customers.

In the process, he sold a few of his other creations, including a champagne-colored double-decker hat he calls the "Small Cake Hat."

Bruner tried it on once and never looked back.   "Oh, yeah. I like this. I want this hat ASAP," she said, admiring herself in the mirror. "Carol? Don't let anyone buy this but me."

E-mail Carolyn Jones at

This article appeared on page B - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

You can also view at

Front Page News:


Aretha’s Designer Visits Berkeley Hat Company 


By Riya Bhattacharjee 

Thursday April 30, 2009 

Riya Bhattacharjee

Luke Song designed the hat Aretha Franklin wore at President Obama’s inauguration.

Aretha Franklin’s hat. Three little words that stirred up a lot of excitement for avid hat buyers in Berkeley last week.


The attention revolved around Luke Song, the Detroit milliner who created the gray felt rhinestone-studded big bow hat that became an instant sensation when the Queen of Soul took to the microphone to sing ”My Country ‘Tis of Thee“ at President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Song was in the Bay Area for two days and visited Telegraph Avenue’s Berkeley Hat Company Friday, April 24, to meet owners Carol Lipnick and Ed Dougherty and their customers. Lipnick and Dougherty have been buying hats from Song for eight years.

The son of Korean immigrants, Song came to the United States at the age of 9. Initially, he had very little interest in his parents’ hat business in Detroit. Instead, he studied biochemistry at Michigan State University, but dropped out a semester shy of graduation to pursue art at the Parsons school of design in New York.


”Art was something I always had my heart set on, even though many people warned me it would not lead to a secure job,“ he said. ”But I stopped listening to people—I must have had some kind of epiphany—and decided to go with my heart and give it 200 percent.“


Song wanted to leave Parsons and complete his studies in Paris, but the burden of student loans deterred him. Instead, Song took a six-month hiatus to help his mother with the family store, Mr. Song Millinery.


His first hat was made from chicken wire he bought at Home Depot. The hat made quite a splash in the world of headgear and sold for $200.


”I wanted to make something beautiful out of something that was not,“ he said. ”As soon as I saw the chicken wire, I knew it was going to be a hat. I sold 10 of them in a week.“


Within six months, Song was able to pay off his student loans for six years of college.


”That woke me up,“ he said, and as one success after the other followed, Song forgot all about school and about Paris, though he frequented that city’s Pret à Porter fashion shows to meet hat designers from all over Europe.


When Aretha Franklin, one of Song’s longtime customers, called him this year before visiting his store, he knew something was up.


”She always comes without any notice,“ he said. ”But this time she called. When she told me she was going to wear one of my hats to the inauguration, I went from being thrilled to honored to scared to death. I knew it was going to be seen by a billion people.“


Song said that he had expected reactions to range from ”Wow, look at that hat,“ but he was quite unprepared for the amount of interest it sparked.


”It’s almost like everyone woke up the next day and realized there are hats in the world—that it can be a fashion statement,“ he said. ”And now we can’t keep up with the demand.“


Song has so far had more than 5,000 orders for the Aretha Hat, and orders continue to flood his store every day, where he works with his parents and his sister.


For all his celebrity status—interviews on CBS, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and Spanish Vogue—Song retains his unassuming demeanor, chatting easily with the women who came to see him at Berkeley Hat Shop, eager to wear his creations to church, to parties and fashion shows.


Some were disappointed to learn that Song would not be duplicating Franklin’s hat—which is now on display at the Smithsonian—but calmed down when they saw the replicas he was selling for $179.


”The difference is going to be in the material,“ Song said. ”Aretha’s hat is going to be the only one in felt.“


Donatella Carta, who teaches French at Berkeley High School, tried on the Aretha Hat with Song’s help.

”I think it’s great, although I probably won’t have a place to wear it to,“ she said. ”And I am too short, anyway.“


Lipnick stood in a corner greeting longtime patrons who had come to swap fashion tips with Song. A kaleidoscope of colors, her store has been a fixture on Dwight and Telegraph for 29 years.


As Basque berets, straw fedoras, Panamas, hat feathers and brushes flew off the shelves, Lipnick’s husband Dougherty talked about how the two of them had turned a little business into ”the hat store for Northern California.“


”The first time we sold hats was at the Live Oak Fair in 1977,“ Dougherty said. ”And that’s about how much money we made: $77. Then we decided to make some of our own hats.“


Marcia Poole, another Berkeley resident, said she had been totally knocked out by Aretha Franklin’s hat.


”When I heard Luke Song was going to be here, I had to be here,“ she said, trying out a hat called ”The Fascinator.“


Brenda Bruner, another Song fan, donned one of his hats and shrieked with delight when she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror.


”Oh my god, I want you to ship it to me ASAP,“ she said, fawning over a little cake hat. ”I love it, love, it, love it—except I want it in champagne.“


Song promised to ship it to her in two weeks.


Bruner, a consultant with the Oakland Unified School District, has been buying hats from Lipnick and Dougherty for three decades.


”You can do anything with a beautiful hat,“ she said. ”Hats are classy. They remind me of the ’40s—people dressed in hats, gloves and raw silk. You can look like a million dollars in a hat that costs a dime.“


And while Aretha Franklin may be his most famous customer, Mr. Song Millinery is now in over 500 retail shops around the country. And because of the inauguration hat, Luke Song expects sales to increase 300 to 400% this year.


Given all the dire news reported from Detroit everyday, Luke Song’s story is one bit of good news coming from the Motor City.


Finally, hats off to. . . well, hats! After making a statement with an Inauguration hat for Aretha Franklin, Mr. Song Millinery is showing no signs of slowing down. Founded by Luke Song’s parents in the mid 1980’s in Detroit, the shop has been a staple there ever since. Luke Song now runs the millinery, despite the fact that some have been quick to call him an ”accidental milliner“ because neither he nor his family expected him to go into the family business. In fact, Luke studied biochemistry in college. . . thinking he’d become a doctor. And then. . . he went on to study art in New York. But when he returned to Detroit nearly eight years ago, he was inspired to create a hat out of. . . chicken wire! The chicken wire hat became an instant hit with customers and allowed him to pay off his student loans within a year.


And as Nancy Giles reports, while Aretha Franklin may still be their most famous customer, Mr. Song Millinery is now in over five hundred retail shops around the country. Luke Song says he expects sales to increase 300 to 400% this year alone as a result of the Inauguration hat. So tip your hat to Mr. Song’s Millinery. . . this week on Sunday Morning!

Made In Michigan


Mar 11, 2009 4:26 pm US/Eastern

Dressin' Up Detroit

Tony Chiudioni

Located along Woodward Ave, in the heart of Detroit, stands a family owned millinery that is generating a lot of buzz.

Taking over for their parents, brother and sister combo Luke and Lillian Song are the current owners of hat fashion store MR. SONG'S MILLINERY.

A milliner is a hatter who designs, makes, sells or trims hats and dresses.

MR. SONG'S MILLINERY has been located in Detroit for over 25 years. In the last eight years they have been featured in about 500 boutiques.

Despite the declining economy, they have had a steady growth in business for the past eight years. However, in early January MR. SONGS MILLINERY saw a large boost in popularity thanks to Detroit's own Aretha Franklin.

During President Barack Obama's inauguration, Aretha Franklin was invited to sing "My Country 'Tis of Thee." Crowning her head during the performance was a brand new hat courtesy of MR. SONG'S MILLINERY.

The hat found instant popularity among the viewers of the inauguration. Even Ellen DeGeneres wore the hat on an episode of her show joking "who wore it better?" The hat is also getting national attention, especially in Europe.

"I had no idea that a hat would get that much attention" says Luke. Aretha's hat has "taken on a life of its own" since the inauguration. It even has its own website fan page.

A month after the inauguration, MR. SONG'S MILLINERY is still being bombarded with orders for the hat. And with all of the hats being made right there in the store by hand, it has hard to keep up with demand.

After their new-found popularity, MR. SONG'S MILLINERY could easily move themselves to L.A. but Luke and Lillian have decided that they would rather stay right here in Detroit.

"With our popularity we have the ability to go anywhere else but we've been here for 25 years and Detroit has been so good to us" says Luke. "We want to give back [to Detroit] by staying here and showing the good light of Detroit."

If you are interested in purchasing one of these hand made hats, MR. SONGS MILLINERY is located at 6513 Woodward Ave. in Detroit.

Aretha Franklin To Loan Inauguration Hat to Smithsonian


by Najwa Moses at March 6, 2009, 9:43 AM

In an interview this morning with comedian Steve Harvey, on his WBLS radio show, Aretha Franklin confirmed that she will give the hat she wore to the Inauguration to the Smithsonian - but only on loan. It will then remain in Barack Obama's presidential library.


Franklin said she was shocked by all the interest in her hat for which she says her publicist's office was flooded with calls. The singer, who says she is still crying tears of joy about Obama's historic win, was looking for the perfect hat to go with her coat. She even went as far as houses in Paris, but ended up getting it from a store in Detroit "down on Woodward... On the main strip." The hat designer, Luke Song has been deluged by orders for replicas of the hat.

Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times


Published: March 12, 2009

Orders for ‘Aretha’s Hat’ Still Going Strong


The Caucus: Buzz Over Aretha Franklin's Hat (January 23, 2009)


FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT       Nancy Coumoundouros, Cultural Arts Supervisor (248) 473-1856




     FARMINGTON HILLS/FARMINGTON – The annual Festival of the Arts celebrates ”Hats Off to the Arts“, with the Family Festival on Saturday, April 24, noon – 5 pm. Admission to the event is free.  The Family Festival is a delightful day, offering art experiences for all ages including artist demonstrations, creative hands-on activities for children, a wide range of entertainment, face painting, and over 200 pieces of art to see and buy.  The Costick Center is located at 28600 W. Eleven Mile Road, Farmington Hills.


     Artist Bernadette Marcos will again be on hand to take a block of clay and transform it into a life-sized bust, working throughout the day with the help of children visiting the festival. Marcos promises that this year, the sculpture will be wearing a hat, in honor of the Festival theme, ”Hats Off to the Arts“.  Other potters will include artist Brian Migdal, joined by art students from Oakland Community College, along with weavers from the Michigan Weavers Guild, quilters, and local painters and illustrators.  Children will also have the opportunity to have their faces painted and take part in hands-on art activities.


     Ongoing entertainment will start off with a concert by the 60+ members of the Farmington Community Band, playing a variety of music from classics to pop, at 12:30 pm.  At 1:30, students from the award-winning Farmington Musicale will perform, including a 4-year-old violin student.  At 2:00, the Wild Swan Theater from Ann Arbor will take the stage with, ”Drum Me a Story“, an exciting performance of African tales along with explanations on  the different types of drums used in the play. The entertainment will also include a steel drum band, and more.


     As a special feature, Lego enthusiasts will be able to see a huge train exhibit constructed completely of Lego pieces.  Little Lego fans are invited to build their own creations at the Lego table.  The City Gallery, in the Costick Center lobby, will feature an exhibit of the hats of Mr. Song, creator of Aretha Franklin’s presidential inauguration hat.


        The Festival of the Arts is presented by the City of Farmington Hills, Farmington Community Arts Council, Farmington Public Schools and the Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce.  Additional support is provided by the Whole Foods Market of West Bloomfield, Daimler Financial Services and Target.  For more information, call the Farmington Hills Cultural Arts Division at (248) 473-1870.          


From The Detroit News: 

detroit girls about town.

Images on this site may not be copied or duplicated.
Hat designs may not be copied or duplicated under penalty of the law.

Copyright© 2010-2011 Moza inc. - mr. song millinery® and associated logos are Trademarks of moza inc. 

All rights reserved.  Privacy Statement

Mr Song Millinery