With attending Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre every year as a child, Katie Props Allen ’04 knew Shenandoah University was the place she wanted to be. “Shenandoah feels intimate in its instruction and has an excellent reputation in the theatrical world,” said Allen. “You get the benefit of working closely with your professors as well as taking master classes with some of the industry’s best.”
Some of Allen’s fondest memories of Shenandoah are of late-night costume construction labs where she and her classmates passed the hours gaining new skills, drinking too much coffee and producing some fabulous creations. She also remembers times when her costume design and technical theater professors cheered her up when she needed it and gave her some tough love when she needed it. “This is a department of instructors who care that you always give and receive the very best,” said Allen.
Allen is the owner, designer and milliner of North Carolina-based Lifted Millinery, where she designs and constructs fine hats and headwear for ready to wear collections, gallery exhibitions and bespoke services for private clients. Most recently, Allen was featured in an exhibit created for The Milliner’s Guild for New York Textile Month (September). New York Textile Month is a monthlong, citywide festival designed to celebrate textile creativity and promote textile awareness. Her work was the featured image for the guild on the NY Textile Month website. She also placed in the top eight at the 2019 Melbourne International Millinery Competition in Australia, and was awarded the Best Overall Hall at the Millinery Meet-up 2018.
The most rewarding part of Allen’s career is seeing her hats travel the world and attend many high profile events. Her hats have been seen everywhere from the Today Show coverage of the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to the MET Museum Store, in conjunction with the recent CAMP: Notes on Fashion exhibit.
As a costume concentration major, Allen received training on how to create a costume design from start to finish (conception, production and presentation) in a team environment, which prepared her for her career.
Allen’s advice to students is: “You already have the talent, focus on the techniques. Artists can go into a discipline with an ‘imposter syndrome’, constantly comparing the quality of their work to others in their field. Rather than spending your time worrying, focus on the skills, techniques, and industry specific knowledge from your instructors. Build your knowledge then apply your ideas. It’s amazing what you can do when the two combine.”