2023 Design Award

The 2023 Millinery Australia Design Award celebrates the work of the Fellow and Life Members of the Association. The theme for this year’s award was ‘Ruffled’. 

Each piece was judged by an expert panel on the criteria of innovative design, quality workmanship, wearability and relevance to the theme. The judging panel included Rachael Hart, Belinda Osborne, Richard Nylon and Martin Ginnane.


Andrea Cainero ‘Sweet Fontange’

Drawn from historical references to ruffles from the 17th century, Sweet Fontange aims to explore the ruffle and its representation in modern fashion of femininity using traditional millinery techniques, artisan couture embellishment skills, and a contemporary colour palette.

The front features a hand-embroidered silk panel inspired by the ruffled edges and delicate crevices of fungi, further exploring elements of ruffles in nature. I embroidered the design using the traditional artisan Tambour embroidery technique to achieve the finest detail and using a cornelli technique to add delicate seed beads to the design. A pleated ruffle and opaque red crystals complete the frame, and seed beads are added to unify the design.

Second Place

Cynthia Jones-Bryson ‘Ruffled? Absolutely’

‘To Ruffle Someone’s Feathers’ was the first thing that came to mind with this brief. Politicians are usually careful not to ruffle the feathers of their constituents. (a fabulous comment I found on a Ruffle Google search). The design had to be an immediate visual sensation and be ruffled to the max. using goose nagoire in the colours of magenta and magenta haze (approx. 600 of each), I cut, shaped and curled each feather. I attached all to a blocked and wired sinamay base and finished with a crown of feather petals.

Third Place

Catherine Storm ‘Spinnaker’

Inspired by sails ruffled in the wind, Spinnaker showcases the tuck-and-fold fabric manipulation technique. Crisp tucks and light and shadow disturb the surface of the shot silk, especially when the hat moves.

Patron’s Pick

Lisa Watt ‘You Do You’

Conversation starter anyone?

There’s no sour note here, just a straightforward message with a sweet touch; Don’t yuck my yum. Don’t dim to fit in.

Taking inspiration from classic corner shop lollies and runway moments by designers Tomo Koizumi and Viktor & Rolf to create confection perfection.

You do you.

Stephen Jones OBE’s comment: “It was so fun!”

People’s Choice

Andrea Cainero ‘Sweet Fontange’

Drawn from historical references to ruffles from the 17th century, Sweet Fontange aims to explore the ruffle and its representation in modern fashion of femininity using traditional millinery techniques, artisan couture embellishment skills, and a contemporary colour palette.

The front features a hand-embroidered silk panel inspired by the ruffled edges and delicate crevices of fungi, further exploring elements of ruffles in nature. I embroidered the design using the traditional artisan Tambour embroidery technique to achieve the finest detail and using a cornelli technique to add delicate seed beads to the design. A pleated ruffle and opaque red crystals complete the frame, and seed beads are added to unify the design.

Packing Room Prize

Rachel Henry ‘The contemporary artist ‘Ruffled’ the feather of the traditionalist with the direction they took.’

Millinery typically refers to the art of making hats, so creating a mask instead of a hat may not fall strictly under the category of traditional millinery.

It’s not uncommon for contemporary artists to challenge traditionalist views and push boundaries in their respective fields. While some traditionalists may feel uncomfortable changing, it’s important to remember that art and fashion constantly evolve and that new ideas and perspectives can bring fresh excitement and innovation to the industry.

Photographer, Richard Shaw’s comment:

Top 10

Lauren Ritchie ‘One Ruffle at a Time’

There have been many interpretations of a ruffle through fashion history, some known for their frilly nature, gathering techniques or transformation of flat materials into something beautiful.

One Ruffle at a Time is a modern interpretation with a long flowing line through the shape of the piece and the repetition of the layers. The base is a blocked shape featuring its own gentle ruffle, then the vintage braid was folded and hand draped to form the circular ruffled effect. The binding is used to gently finish the edge to allow the ruffled braid to be the feature. The pop of magenta lining gives a playful underside and has its own ruffled finish. 

Top 10

Wendy Louise Diggles ‘Luminous Life’

I am interested in exploring forms with an organic feel, the theme Ruffled made me think of the mantle of a sea creature like a nudibranch as it swims through our ocean. I was always fascinated by these animals. I created the shape from 2 blocked foss shape pieces, which were wired and covered in a sequined velvet, I used a pre pleated fabric to make a very full ruffle to represent a mantle like layer seen on shellfish and these sea creatures. I then filled the space with an explosion of feathers punctuated with vintage ab Swarovski crystals to represent life bursting out of its shell.

To me the piece is very organic and joyful, it has movement and vibrancy. The iridescent fabrics convey the luminosity of many deep-sea creatures so for me it all connects.

Top 10

Tracey Tau ‘Finderella’

While the pleated organza truly embodies the ‘Ruffled’ ethos, it was its iridescent colours that inspired the subject’s character.  Constructed over a wire frame, the piece portrays a fantasy style fish leaping above the glistening waves below, to show off her spectacular tail.

Top 10

Rose Hudson ‘The Peasants are Revolting’

A young Queen Marie Antoinette ruffled the feathers of the French Court in the pre-revolutionary 1780s, so much so that she lost her head. For this ‘Ruffled’ competition I’ve created a version inspired by the work of her milliner, Rose Bertin, using vintage French felt and vintage straw cloth, a deliberate clash of seasonal materials never to be used together, just to ruffle the purists!

The felt is a vintage ‘monchon’ flat felt from the 1940s purchased in Paris about eight years ago. The crin is from Job Warehouse in Melbourne; the wire, the tulle, Foss and blue straw cloth (from Mimi Millinery) were all from my stock, nothing new was purchased for this hat so it’s sustainable as well!

I started this piece without a clear idea of where I was headed. I began with the notion of using felt in repeated lines like waves to create ruffles. The dream was harder than reality. Making very fine soft felt stand on edge, on a curved surface, eventually defeated me.

I played around with the soft, pliable felt, letting it guide me. Eventually, the design revealed itself to me.

Top 10

Robynne Dowd ‘Totally Ruffled’

My inspiration for the Ruffled theme was Disturbance.

In the dying process of the base, the watery colour is rippled and disturbed, the pompoms are disturbed and not smooth as they would typically be, and the quills, while springing up straight, become angry and confused as to where they should be.

Top 10

Karin Goodman ‘The Ruff’

My hat was inspired by European 16th and 17th-century ruffled white and lace collars often worn with black clothing, hence using only the black and white combination. The shape of the hat itself was also inspired by 17th-century hats. The white brim-edge trim represents the ruffled collar or the ruff, hence the hat’s name. The hat was created using wirework covered in lace and cut crin elements and trimmed with two quills.


Jo Peterson ‘That’s Amore’

Wanna see feathers get ruffled? Then just ask this controversial question next time you get together with friends…

”Does pineapple belong on pizza?”

Undoubtedly one of the most hotly debated arguments in food history as there is no middle ground…you either love it or despise it! So, in celebration of the unassuming pineapple, I have ‘tipped my hat’ to its place as a humble pizza topping using subtle shades and textures of vintage straw cloth, parisisal and paglina braid along with crystal, pearl and sequin embellishments. The hat features pineapple topped (and plain) pizza slices on the inlayed crown and rear facing stylised bow and a ‘pizza crust’ ruff with sinamay brim extension completes the overall design.

Now let’s sing…
     When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie (with pineapple on it)
     That’s amore
     When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine
     That’s amore

Christine Martin ‘Delilah’

The inspiration for my entry was the beautiful blue vintage ruffled straw braid that I had bought many years ago and was waiting for a special occasion to use it. I decided to block a simple but elegant hat shape so as to show the ruffled braid to its best advantage. I used the chicken wire veiling to soften the look and by unravelling the straight pieces of the braid I was able to create the curls for the veiling trim.

Treacy Beswick ‘Attractive Opposites’

The black and white theme has been complemented by other opposites such as the radiating spines on the crown opposing the ruffles and swirls of the crinoline with ruffles versus lines and spots. The ruffles theme has been carried into the ruffle gather of the chiffon over the base and the central ruffling of the lining of the base. I had to wire the base with 4 radiating spines to maintain the downward curve of the front brim.

Leteisha Knecht ‘Attractive Opposites’

For inspiration for my design award entry, I had pink and black feathers which I had in my stash for a little while and just didn’t quite have the design in mind to use them. This year’s competition theme ‘ruffled’ was perfect; what more could you say than ruffle those feathers?

I made a boater-style hat that sits more on the side of the head and then placed feathers around the hat to create a floaty movement when you move. As for the wire structure, I wanted to add some height within the piece.

Tammy Gill Design ‘Ruffled Allegiance’

The recent coronation, with all the pomp and ceremony, exemplified an antiquated institution that I feel is not representative of today’s society or ideals.

My piece ‘Ruffled Allegiance’ is a disrupted form representing a contemporary approach to a crown – twisted, confused, yet still exuding opulence and power.

Georgia Skelton ‘Show Jump’

They approached the jump; the horse was keen, the rider focused, but the hat…was completely ruffled by the event.

When I pondered the theme Ruffled, my immediate idea for the competition was what if my hat had a life of its own and could feel ruffled rather than just represent the word ruffled. The result is an exhibition piece that I enjoyed exploring and I hope it shows.

Lisette Margini ‘Beatrice’

Inspired by Princess Beatrice’s hat for the wedding of Will and Kate (which definitely ruffled those who had not seen anything like her hat before), this hat is a percher with a stylised bow tail only. I placed the body of the piece to the left side against common convention. Apart from ruffling conventions, I have used a smocking technique to ruffle the on the base and then offset each part of the ruffled bow tail.

Jo Ramsay ‘Wildflowers’

This is a contemporary twist on a 1960s classic silhouette which was inspired by the drifts of Australian wildflowers that grow across our country landscapes.

Stylised, ruffled frou-frou flowers were crafted in silk lamé with an understory of iridescent acrylic. The iridescence enhances the lustre of the silk and represents the shimmer of the midday sun as the flower petals are ruffled by the breeze.

Sandra Forrester ‘Lollypop’

According to a dictionary description of Ruffle (Ripple) is a disturbance of a flat surface. My inspiration came from seeing the use of origami in some of Issey Miyake’s work and the amazing colours available in the Pina Silk…colour always inspires me.

The main body of my design is a curve (disturbance of a flat surface) made from 3 layers of Sinamay, adding interest and height, the Pina Silk I have rippled using lots of pins and steam (and patience) to create very tight petaled climbing roses that Cecil Brunner would be proud of.

Chris Mullane Millinery ‘Ripple’

 A body of water “ruffled’ by a breeze is the inspiration behind RIPPLE.

The hand-dyed sinamay in varying shades of aqua captures the image of choppy and undulating water and the shape lends itself to that of a water droplet.

The white wire sculpture represents both elements of nature, the breeze and the waves.

Possum Ball Millinery ‘Ebouriffé’

French for “ruffled” I chose this name for my design as the vintage hood I used was labelled “Made in France”.

To make my entry I first blocked a bright yellow vintage French straw hood onto a favourite beret block of mine, as the curves of this beret subtly remind me of ruffles. I then hand weaved orange, red and gold ric-rac through the straw, deliberately leaving the ric-rac loose and messily “ruffled” in its appearance, finishing with a matching weaved oversized cabillou.

I had fabric custom printed with the competition’s logo which is used as the lining.

Sarah Mensforth ‘Birds of a Feather, Ruffle Together’

The intricate ruffles on a bird’s plumage have long been a source of inspiration for designers, artists and milliners, which is the inspiration for this piece.

The trim detail created by the frayed sinamay, gives the appearance of ruffled feathers over the smooth body like that of a snowy egret. The body is blocked and stiffened with the neck and beak made from sculptural wirework and covered with sinamay. The ruffled feathers are made from fraying sinamay offcuts.

Christine Waring ‘Ruffled Wings’

“My Choughs”

When I am ‘ruffled’, I go walking up my mountain outside my back gate. There I find my Choughs! They are a delight to watch and remind me life is good. The Chough bird is known for its chattering and gathering into close family groups. Showing off their ruffled black and white wings spreading out into glossy feathers. My headpiece represents the choughs wings when fully extended, all sharp and glossy!

The techniques used to create this headpiece were first blocking the sinamay and then the parisisal over a wooden headband block. Then wiring double lengths of the black glossy braid to form the wings. I then hand moulded and smoothed the braid over my fingers, to form sharp ruffled wings.

Christine Lindsay ‘Ruffled Emotions to the Heart’

The word ruffled evokes thoughts of emotions and adversity, which led to my inspiration for ‘Ruffled Emotions of the Heart’. The ruffled and jagged darkness gives way to the vibrant red heart, showing the co-existence of conflicting emotions. Wrapped wire work, covering the mundane and showing joy, can be found in unexpected places, even in a sea of darkness. In times of great adversity we must all look for the joy.

Bronwyn Shooks ‘Fashion vs Nature’

Ruffled: verb – to be or become ruffled; to be or become irritated or vexed.

This piece is a ruffle, both literal and figurative. Illustrating both the sweep of a ruffled skirt and the movement of a beetle’s wings in flight. It highlights the connection between fashion and nature, highly coveted by one but ultimately damaging to the other. Hinting at the popularity of arsenical green, birds of paradise, and jewel beetle embroidery – just a few of the harmful fads of the fashion industry of the past, but what part of our current practices are still ruffling nature today?

Abigail Fergusson ‘Freshwater’

I took inspiration from watching the wind “ruffle” the surface of the ocean, causing the water to move gently in a wave-like motion at my favourite beach, Freshwater.

I created a number of wave-like shapes out of wire and leno and covered them with a sparkling blue crepe, which I then beaded crystals to recreate the sun’s glistening rays as it catches waves at different angles.

Fiona Eichler ‘Rah-rah’

Growing up, I was often dressed in hand-me-downs. Having three older brothers, I was quite the ‘tomboy’ both in behaviour and clothing. But occasionally, I got clothes from my cousins. They gave me my first rah-rah skirt. Colourful, flouncy and oh so ruffly! It is the inspiration for this hat. I love the versatility of themes rah-rah skirts allow. They can be feminine and delicate yet pair perfectly with combat boots and a leather jacket.

“I might look pretty, but don’t mess with me”. Just like me in my childhood.

Tracy Mackinnon ‘Loss of Composure’

My design was inspired by the texture and movement in the vintage straw cloth, crinoline overlay and the pleated pleather that covers the central shape. The black theme continues through each element so that the ruffle in each material becomes the feature. The design showcases many different layers of the ruffled theme, from subtle curves and waves to the ruffled feather feature in the back. Blocking techniques and freeform sculpting were used to create my design.

Felicity Northeast ‘Autumnal’

In “Autumnal” order and pattern are disturbed but not totally destroyed, just a little ruffled. The deciduous tree is no longer centred, while the leaves tousle in the Autumn breeze.

Feathers are cut and manipulated into leaves, creating a ruffled feel, layered in opposing directions with uneven fringed edges and mottled stems. The blocked hat structure represents the tree, reflecting tree rings and the axis it moves in, shifting and losing its central composure.

Bec Bayss ‘Bouquet of Ruffles’

While thinking about the theme of ‘ruffled’ I challenged myself to look at ruffles from a different point of view. Most of the time we think about ruffles as volumes of fabric but what happens if we look at ruffles from a different perspective? If we look at ruffles from the edge of the fabric as opposed to the flat side, we see fine lines that make their own amazing display. I was inspired to take this perspective and apply it to my entry in bold colours, that create a unique but feminine piece. 

Oksana Caretti ‘Butterflies Fly In Even When Their Wings Are Ruffled’

My entry was inspired by an iconic Australian designer and artist Cristina Re known for her stylish tea ware and luxury homeware products and my love for polka dot patterns.

When I feel “ruffled”, I reach out to a cup of tea brewed in my Cristina Re tea set; it calms me down and resets my mind for positive thinking. I’ve blocked the white wool felt on one of my favourite small top hat blocks, covered it with flocked netting fabric and ruffled loads of black bridal tulle to create a fluffy pompom adorned with four feather butterflies to remind the world that butterflies fly in even when their fragile wings are ruffled.

Alison Morgan ‘From Ruffled to Calm’

Ultimately, I wanted my millinery piece to be fun and reflect the brief, ‘Ruffled’. I kept coming back to how my creative process works. Firstly, I get isolated islands of thought that aren’t cohesive as yet. These thoughts then get pushed to the back of my mind, where they get ruffled, folded together and condensed until finally, one idea comes bursting out and swirling into reality. Hence my ‘Ruffled to Calm’ headpiece emerges.

Michaela Manning ‘Essence of Tutu’

The inspiration for this headpiece came from the tutus worn by dancers. I had previously attended a TAFE event where fashion, costumes, millinery etc., were displayed at the end of the TAFE year. Part of this event included several tutus and I thought a headpiece could be made with the “form” of the skirt of the tutu. When I saw the theme of ruffled, these tutus immediately came to mind. The crown and brim are millinery bias blocked sinamay and the base of the brim is flat sinamay brim. Tulle and organza have been ruffled and attached to the brim to represent the skirt of tutus.

Image Credits

Photo Production: Lisa Watt Productions
Photographer: Richard Shaw
Model: Scarlett Mayer
HMUA: Amy Kenny


Thank you to the following sponsors for their support of the competition:

B-Unique MillineryBonnetry MillineryCherry Ribbon, Guy Morse-Brown, Hat Academy, Hat AtelierHat Blocks Australia, HatalkHatlinesHatters Millinery SuppliesHaute Dog CalendarHouse of AdornJo Maree Millinery, Louise Macdonald Milliner, Michele Cameron, Millinery AustraliaMillinery HubMillinery.Info, Richard Shaw Photographer, Rose Hudson MillineryThe Hat MagazineTracy Chaplin Milliner, Wendy Scully Millinery Yering Farm Wines

Print Partners:

IMMIJ, Mezographic