Hats off to you

Posted on April 9, 2013

Albertus Swanepoel shares his unexpected twists and turns of life.

Life doesn’t always turn out the way you think it would. I grew up in South Africa under a very strict Calvinist upbringing, and was married at 20. I studied to become a graphic designer at the University of Pretoria but switched careers and ended up training as a fashion designer. I never thought I would leave my country of birth. However, years later my wife and I went to New York and, by sheer fluke, I was offered a job within a few days. The job fell through when the economy went south and we were on very hard times. Unable to find another job, but too proud to move back, we started a glove company. I still wanted to be a fashion designer, at all costs. As gloves were so seasonal, I needed to do more. Reluctantly, I started attending the Fashion Institute of Technology to study millinery under Janine Galimard. I came out at the old age of forty. In many different ways, I had to start all over again. So here I am: a well respected, gay milliner — none of the things I ever thought I would be as a child in South Africa!

Albertus Swanepoel studied at the University of Pretoria and the Fashion Institute of Technology.

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