At the age of 13 the Vocational Guidance Officer at School suggested I become a nurse – I squirmed. He then suggested teaching Home Economics. This training in the 60's gave me the opportunity to learn and teach Millinery. So started my love to make & wear hats.
How did you become involved in millinery?
A friend of mine invited me to the races. I'd never been to any race days, so asking "what to wear" she told me :" a nice dress and a hat". The dress was no problem. I consulted the internet as to the requirements of an appropriate hat, but failed to find any hats or headpieces I liked in the shops. So out I went, got a few supplies and "made" one. It was a success, I got lots of compliments......and I never stopped making hats since. My first piece was a concoction of bits and pieces and hot glue...shudder...but it ignited a passion, for which I'm thankful for.
A little side anectode: I was also consulting with a school guidance officer at age 13. It was suggested that millinery would be suitable for me. This was in the mid 70s and I could not get an apprenticeship. Not being too hung up about it I chose a different path, only to come full circle decades later. I wonder if - had I found an apprenticeship back then in Austria - would I still be a milliner.....life is a funny business, isn't it? :)
At high school in the mid 60s, we were taught Home Arts & Crafts (sewing, cooking & home management). The year I started was the first year that millinery was not inlcuded in the sewing stream. I remember being highly disappointed as I had always loved hats and wanted to learn how to make them. I did, however made a brown and orange paisley vyella dress for my final year in 1968 and wore it with brown boots and a brown suede cap. Two years later, I was wearing a floppy brimmed purple felt with beads and caftan!!
Not being into horse racing or other formal events, hats then became items to cope with the elements rather than fashion statements. Big brimmed straws for summer and woolly felts, beanies and berets for winter. I always loved good fabrics though (no polyester or paper) and looked longingly at books which showed women wearing hats as part of their daily going out. What sort of hat will go with jeans and a shirt for a trip to the supermarket (apart from an Akubra...)??
A hiccup with my health late in life gave me the entree I needed. After leaving my career, time in hospital and rehabilitation, my husband asked me what I would like to do. "I'd like to learn how to make hats". That was 2008. I did a short course with Louise Macdonald of Melbourne to make my first hat, a dark green felt brimmed cloche. I then had a 2 year diversion to study Law, but completely hooked on millinery. I've done 2 courses with Louise, two workshops with Waltraud Reiner and studied books galore. This year I started the Cert II in Millinery in Adelaide. So much to learn and just loving the journey!!
I began sewing and learning needle crafts as a child which lead to designing and doing alterations as an adult. My head is smaller than the average and it was impossible to purchase a hat that looked proportioned to my head, so I began making soft caps and hats that I designed myself. Of course, in the course of designing and creating wedding gowns, I also made veils and head trimmings for brides and attendants. I have always wanted to learn proper millinery techniques, but living in an area where most people don't even know what the term milliner means, I was left to my own devices to learn. I obtained millinery training manuals used in milinery factories from the 1920s and practiced and practiced and practiced some more until I had learned the various techniques.
I made "stuff" from an early age and when I was 25 gave up managing a leather shop to retrain as clothing designer and was lucky enough to be taught by a tutor who had done a lot of milinery and she helped me to create 4 hats as part of my final collection. Back in the 80's hats were not on my radar and the internet did not exist so finding material was impossible, so I stuck to making motorcycle racing leathers for 5 years.
3 years ago I got asked to make a fascinator from a pre purchased kit by a friend and hey ho... the business was born,learnt a few new skills, grown and sadly shrinking back this year due to change of location of my stockist. However I am still learning and experimenting with bigger and better hats !