London Hat Week, MAA Design Award, Royal Shows & more, there is such an abundance of millinery competitions and each has its own challenges.
My most recent success was at the Royal Brisbane Show this year where I entered my design named, Flow. This hat won Best in Show and came first in its category. The thought process behind this design was of fabric flowing in a breeze. Its low crown building to a curve and the curled, flowing trim almost taking off beyond the brim.
The Chrysler Hat came out of the 2021 MAA Design Awards where it was placed in the top 10. This competition had the theme of ‘20s -Past, Present and Future’. With my love of architecture and the Art Deco movement, the Chrysler building in New York came to mind for inspiration. White sinamay was used to reflect the white bricks used in the building’s construction. The flared brim reflected the radiator inspired Eagle Gargoyles on the building. Art Deco elevator doors inspired the fan shape and scrolls on the hat’s crown and trim.
London Hat Week Exhibition 2020, ‘To the Future and Back’, had a theme of either looking forward to the future or looking back through history. I chose to look back and in particular to the work of fashion designer Christian Dior. I was fortunate to have my design accepted for display at the Hat Week Exhibition.
Inspiration for the hat came from Dior’s iconic 1940s dress silhouette with the nipped in waist and voluminous skirt. To represent the fullness of the skirt, buckram was blocked on a large domed brim board. I created an inner and outer crown and lifted the outer crown slightly so it hovered above the brim. This recreated the small waist of the Dior dress. The elevated crown was the reason that I named the hat, Altitude. I entered Altitude in this year’s Royal Queensland Show in the brimmed hat category where it received first place.
While entering competitions is a lot of hard work and can be the cause of a few sleepless nights, they expand my millinery for the positive. Competitions push me in directions I may not have taken otherwise.
Award winning milliner, Karen Bailey has been designing hats for over 30 years. Karen’s hats have been worn at weddings and functions around the world including national and international race meetings. Her hats have featured in films, theatre productions, and an international millinery exhibition.
Karen trained with celebrated Brisbane milliner, Elizabeth R where she learned traditional model millinery techniques. Opening her millinery store in Oxford Street Bulimba in the 1990s, Karen’s collections also sold through selected independent boutiques, David Jones and Myer department stores.
Karen is renowned for her meticulous attention to detail. All designs are hand made using the finest materials to create a flawless finish that is both classically elegant and timeless. As well as offering ready to wear collections, Karen offers a bespoke couture service where designs are customised to complement each client’s specific outfit.
After thirty years in Brisbane, Karen recently relocated to the beautiful Northern Rivers Region of N.S.W. She continues to focus on providing beautifully crafted hats for clients and her seasonal collections.
What made you come up with the idea to host an auction to support the floods in QLD and NSW?
The idea for the Milliiners4Recovery auction had its birth in the days after the ‘Black Summer Fires’ when communities were in such desperate need for help and the general community were unable to do anything to help. A group of artists and authors had a Twitter Auction ‘Authorsforfires’ which was raising money to help the fire fighters, so I asked some close milliner friends what they thought and took on the project myself with their support.
Originally we had planned to run the event a couple of times that year knowing that recovery from such experiences takes years and we wanted survivors to know they remained in our thoughts. However within weeks the pandemic hit, milliners were not making money and it was too much to ask people to contribute again. Come this year and again we see large numbers of people isolated and their lives turned upside down due to the impact of flooding in Queensland and New South Wales. Again that feeling of helplessness set in seeing people have everything they own destroyed and lives being lost. I decided to ask our community if they wanted to do it again.
We have had over 25 milliners donate hats and headwear so far, several donating more than one piece. This time I found an online platform AirAuctioneer, a Sydney based company who waived fees for anyone running auctions raising money for the floods. They have been fantastic support as well.
Where will all the funds be going?
The proceeds of this auction will be paid directly to Lifeline and Red Cross Australia’s Flood Appeal. Red Cross because they are a well run group who manage to get help to those who need efficiently. Lifeline because the recovery from any trauma is not just physical, the impact can take weeks, months or years to emerge. Each milliner is selecting the charity to which the winning bidder will pay directly. Like our first auction, the winning bidder pays directly to the charity in their own name and on proof of payment, the hat is posted to them. This allows the bidder to be able to claim their tax deduction.
The first time you ran an auction you raised nearly $8000 – what would your goal be for this time around?
I am hoping that this time around we can raise closer to 10k. We have pieces this time with a greater size and price range and hopefully pieces that appeal to all genders.
If you were to bid on a piece, which one would you choose?
My husband will be bidding on a couple of pieces for me. The one I’d most like to win is Karen Livingston from KML Millinery’s piece. It is a lovely hat made in honour of her niece’s partner’s father who lost his life in the floods. A proud hat wearer, this piece has been made to honour him.
I also love Leteisha Knecht’s hat that comes with a handmade macrame hanger and you can’t go past the colour of Georgia Skelton and Sandy Forrester’s hats.
Sadly Louise Macdonald fans have already outbid me as have those who want Rose Hudson’s beret.
In November 2016, the Millinery Association Members voted at the Annual General Meeting and a new Committee was formed. We wanted to get to know our new Committee better so we asked them three questions.
What’s your background in the millinery industry?
What do you hope to achieve by your appointment to MAA Committee?
What’s something you’d like to share that we might not know about you?
Here are the 2017 Committees responses:
Rose Hudson, President (Victoria)
What’s your background in the millinery industry? I started as a junior milliner when I was sixteen. I haven’t had another occupation all my working life. I raised two sons while working (I went into labour with my second son while packing the hats for Beauty and the Beast!). I went back to study when I was 45 (and still working) and got my VCE and entered RMIT as a mature age student. I completed a Professional Writing and Editing Diploma which has complemented my millinery work with writing notes and correspondence. I am a theatre milliner. Making head wear for the performing arts is my preference, but I make some race wear in October and the occasional bride. I enjoy teaching and imparting the knowledge I have gained in this industry. Millinery now is a mostly solitary pursuit and I like meeting and being with people.
What do you hope to achieve by your appointment to the MAA committee? Becoming president was a very proud moment for me. Millinery has been my life. I decided to run for the committee position because I wanted to give something back. I’ve been in millinery for a very long time and it’s been personally very rewarding, I hope to enable others to feel that way too. Whether you’re the little guy working at home or someone with a brand, a big label and a shopfront, I want us all to derive satisfaction and happiness from what we do. I want to encourage high standards. I want us to do more social activities together, get to know one another better because if we are united and happy, we can achieve so much more with a shared vision. I know this committee shares that vision.
What’s something you’d like to share that we might not know about you? I come from a big noisy happy family. Can you tell? I’m used to making myself heard and fighting for attention. I won an Easter bonnet parade hat competition when I was in grade two (1970) at school for the best hat. My parents were both very creative, my mother and grandmother taught me to sew. My father was a gifted drawer and artist but told at a young age he couldn’t make a living from that. He worked in a bank all his life and hated it. I vowed I wouldn’t be the same. When I’m in my studio making hats, I couldn’t be happier. I love my two cats, Ally and Dora.
Catherine Kelly, Vice President (New South Wales)
What’s your background in the millinery industry? A lifetime of wearing and loving hats for every occasion encouraged me to follow on and learn and experiment with making hats. I pursued Home Economics teaching as a career – and then specialised more in textiles and design, doing my first millinery class with Waltraud Reiner in London in 1989— and took my passion to realisation when I did the millinery course at Ultimo TAFE – and finally establishing Embellish®Atelier to take my first orders. Located in Rozelle, Sydney, with a beautiful shopfront and studio which satiated and combined my love and passion for interior design, restoration of a Historic Building, showcasing Millinery, and supporting and collaborating with other like minded artisans.
What do you hope to achieve by your appointment to MAA Committee? By becoming vice president I am excited to be part of a collaborative and innovative team which I believe will improve the professional profile of the association and help establish and nurture long term relationships between members and with suitable partner Associations.
What’s something you’d like to share that we might not know about you? I was Runner up Miss Queensland Country Life Showgirl in 1983 – and wore a hat to every event during that competition.
Felicity Northeast, Treasurer (Victoria)
What’s your background in the millinery industry? About 10 years ago (after a past history of always having at least one art or textile project on the go) I completed a few short courses in millinery. I soon realised the enormous scope within this form of art and enjoyed the way it enabled me to incorporate many of my textile skills. I went onto complete Certificate IV at Kangan. For a few years over the Spring Carnival I worked with established milliners (and MAA members) while I continued practicing as a dietitian. It wasn’t long before my millinery business grew and my passion for working in the area took over.
What do you hope to achieve by your appointment to MAA Committee? Being part of the association initially provided me with informal mentoring, a place to address work related queries and has allowed me to form connections with like minded people which is especially important when most of us work alone. I feel I understand millinery from the viewpoint of a new graduate to a professional milliner. I have always appreciated the time and effort the committee volunteer to the MAA and now felt it was time I could contribute. I am basically better with numbers that writing so I put my hand up for treasurer. I wish to see us progress towards a comprehensive computerised accounting system that would aid us with budgeting and forward planning. But most of all I want to work with the committee and MAA members to ensure an active, professional progressive association that represents all members across Australia from fields of millinery.
What’s something you’d like to share that we might not know about you? Frequently after the Spring Carnival my heels are replaced for hiking boots. This year it was trekking through Patagonia (the southern tip of South America) in 80-120km winds. The scenery was wild, varied and totally amazing. One year we flew to Tassie straight after Oaks Day and I was soon in knee deep mud reflecting how life was different a few days ago. No glamour, couture hats, champagne or make up just mud, fresh air and a crumpled sunhat.
Lauren Ritchie, Secretary (Victoria)
What’s your background in the millinery industry? I attended a short course in Millinery at Riverina Institute of TAFE in Albury during my final year of High School with Elizabeth Hemsley. For my Tertiary studies, I followed this passion by completing Certificate II, III & IV in Millinery at Kangan Batman Institute in parallel with a Bachelor of Applied Science – Fashion Design at RMIT. During the first year of training I completed work experience with Louise Macdonald and have continued to work with her since.
What do you hope to achieve by your appointment to MAA Committee? I hope to make a contribution to the Association to assist in its professional running to ensure that there continues to be a strong Millinery Industry into the future.
What’s something you’d like to share that we might not know about you? I am originally from Wangaratta and continue to play in a Swing Band called High Society Jazz Orchestra that is based in North East Victoria that performs at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival and this year at the Castlemaine Jazz Festival.
In alphabetical order by first name:
Debbie Kelly, General Member (Western Australia)
What’s your background in the millinery industry? I commenced creating millinery in 2006 and being based in Perth my only resource at the time was a book “From The Neck Up” by Denise Dreher and is still my go to resource for millinery techniques. It was not until 2010 that I took my first class with a Jane Stoddard with creating a leather headpiece that I fell in love with leather and in 2012 I attended the millinery conference at Wagga.
Since 2006 I have established a loyal clientele, both nationally and internationally with some of my designs being worn in the birdcage at the Melbourne Cup Carnival, the Royal Enclosure at Royal Ascot and worn by Fashion on the Field winners. I have enjoyed collaborations with Western Australia designers and Perth TV personalities. To date my most memorable highlight of my millinery career was being one of the designers invited to present at the Telstra Perth Fashion Festival on closing night last year. During 2011 and 2012 I was awarded several awards at the Perth Royal Show for my leatherwork. In 2014, I was nominated as a finalist in the Belmont Small Business Awards.
What do you hope to achieve by your appointment to MAA Committee? I’m very honoured to be elected onto the 2017 MAA Committee and during my appointment it is my endeavour to set up policies and procedures for future MAA Committees and members. I believe that having these in place such a manual would be beneficial to all MAA members as it will set clear guidelines as to how to approach i.e. pop-up shop, holding events, sub-committees etc. Being a self-taught milliner I’m very proud to be a member of the MAA and to be elected on the Committee. During 2017 I am working on establishing more Perth milliners to join the MAA and hopefully hold a joint event under the banner of MAA.
What’s something you’d like to share that we might not know about you? Being self-taught and the lack of confidence with public speaking one of my biggest fears would be teaching fellow and up and coming milliners.
Georgia Skelton, General Member (Victoria)
What’s your background in the millinery industry? My Mother taught me to sew at a very young age, inspiring and encouraging me with all things crafty. I studied fashion design at Box HilI Institute, winning the student of the year award and subsequently studied millinery at Kangan Institute receiving an outstanding student award. Over the years I have taught at most of the leading Tafes in Melbourne and I am currently the Millinery mentor at Melbourne Fashion Institute. I started making hats to compliment my own race wear outfits when I married a racehorse lover.
What do you hope to achieve by your appointment to MAA Committee? I hope to bring an inclusive of all vibe to the association and encourage and assist with the growth of the association both in numbers and keeping up with the times. I am happy as both a leader and a team player and will go where I am needed.
What’s something you’d like to share that we might not know about you? My passion for millinery is a natural extension of my fashion and theatrical background I was a dancer with the Australian Ballet Company and I think this infuses much of my work with a sense of drama. My Mum still inspires me today
Leighanne Crocker, General Member (Victoria)
What’s your background in the millinery industry? Started learning in 2008 and now running my own label Day Flower Millinery. I love hats and have always worn them, so naturally when I wanted to find a new career outside of the corporate world millinery was it! I love creating hats and my preferred way is to make a collection and sell them online. I like some bespoke work but cannot commit too much because of my other businesses. I feel millinery is the way I express myself creatively.
What do you hope to achieve by your appointment to MAA Committee? I hope to bring my skills from other parts of my life. I include my strong desire to help people feel empowered to not only create a hat but have the ability to bring it to market too and make a thriving abundant life out of millinery. I am driven to bring millinery into the contemporary market place we live in and thrive! I want to collaborate, not compete and work smarter, not harder.
What’s something you’d like to share that we might not know about you? I am a qualified remedial massage therapist and essential oils lover! I love helping people find wellness and live their dreams. I took a break last year from millinery to get perspective which I really needed to do….. It really helped me immensely by investing in personal development and upgrading my business skills which I devote time to every week. I’ve found I’ve become much happier and enjoying my work a lot more but keep a better balance on everything.
Lorraine Gill, General Member (South Australia)
What’s your background in the millinery industry? I was teaching leather garment making at TafeSA during the time when everyone wear a lot of leather, (1980’s) and with fashion being as fickle as it is, I had to find something to earn money for me and keep me self employed, so I took on bridal wear, which is 3 month fittings with the bride and her maids. The bride’s mother usually attended the fitting and often decided, invariably, at the last minute that she needed some sort of head wear. The Millinery classroom was next door to my Leather garment classroom and visit into there to chat to Gwenda Baker, who is now a life member of MAA, wetted my appetite for the art of Millinery. The mothers of the bride’s requests to make hats to match made it a necessity to learn and of course became addicted to it.
I studied at TafeSA in the early 90’s. Started teaching in 1996 and am still teaching, having instigated the introduction of the nationally accredited Certificate II and a few years later, Certificate IV in Millinery. I, and three of my past students, have set-up an occasional or “pop-up” shop spanning over 20 years, and have been judging the entries at the Adelaide Royal Show for something like 15 years. I have been a member of the MAA for 12 years. I have won awards in local hat competitions and have been in the final 10 at the Myer Fashions on the Field Millinery Awards on 3 occasions and final 20 on two occasions.
What do you hope to achieve by your appointment to MAA Committee? To help make the MAA truly national, promote the standard of millinery in Australia and encourage the wearing of hats. To extend my passion to educate and nurture upcoming millinery students to make sure that the art of millinery is alive and well in South Australia to the whole of Australia.
What’s something you’d like to share that we might not know about you? Adelaide started the Hats off Conventions in 2003 when social media was not available.
Louise Macdonald, General Member (Victoria)
What’s your background in the millinery industry? I have been working as a milliner since 1990. Following my diploma at Wimbledon School of Art in Costume Interpretation, I was lucky enough to get a full time job as milliner working for Cosprop, a period costume company in London where I made hats for mostly film and television productions, with a little bit of theatre thrown in! All were period productions, so this gave me a good grounding in historical headwear. After working there for 5 years I returned to Melbourne and set up studio in the Nicholas Building where I’ve been working as a sole trader since 1995. My focus now is more formal occasion headwear and millinery education.
What do you hope to achieve by your appointment to MAA Committee? I’ve been a member of the MAA since 1996. Initially I was secretary for a year or two, when we had only a handful of members! Over the last ten years I have tried to facilitate professional development within our membership by being a convenor of the Hats Off to Melbourne Convention in 2008, and since then organising professional development programs and workshops with Ian Bennet, Lauren Martin, Paul Anthony and Bridget Bailey. I joined the committee at the end of 2015 and was re-elected this year. My aim on the Committee last year and this year is to continue with professional development of our members through guest speakers at meetings, encourage participation of interstate members in the Association and work on presenting as a professional organisation so we can extend the reach of our members to other organisations that will enable our aims.
What’s something you’d like to share that we might not know about you? About a year or two ago I started learning the Ukulele, and I LOVE it! No I’m not ready to give you a performance, but it gives me the joy that I guess people feel when they first start making hats. It feeds the soul! If I practice I get better!! My dog is an avid admirer of my playing!
Sandy Aslett, General Member (Queensland)
What’s your background in the millinery industry? Approximately 9 years in millinery learning and now still up-skilling to keep up with the latest techniques, trends and designs. Before then I was a Regional Industry Career Adviser for Australian Industry Group bringing Industry & Education together and working on projects in Construction & Manufacturing, so that was nothing to do with millinery trade but promoting qualification as a career option.
What do you hope to achieve by your appointment to MAA Committee? Re-adjusting attitudes in regard to the public perception of the Association. Play a part to increase awareness of millinery in Australia and internationally whilst promoting our own Aussie tutors as best in the world. Using my expertise in business and project management to assist in the benefit for the Association.
What’s something you’d like to share that we might not know about you? Was honoured with an Australia Day Award for sport as I played hockey for Queensland for 13yrs and also was chosen as a Shadow Player for Australia.