Jo-Anne Rolfe found her calling when a move to rural NSW meant that she was no longer within shopping distance of her local millinery boutique. Jo-Anne was left hatless and on a mission to complete the look of her new vintage inspired outfit she had just created. Combining her love of creating and passion for vintage design she began her millinery journey and as they say... The rest is history. Here we chat with Jo-Anne about all things millinery and get a little snapshot of what makes her tick. 

What do you love most about Millinery?
I love the exactness of millinery. Milliners strive for what we call “balance”, with the focus on creating a piece that has a wonderful wow factor, even with the most simplest of designs.

How did you get into making hats and headpieces?
During the 80’s I would buy my hats from a tiny little millinery shop in Melbourne called “Happiness is a New Hat”, but when we moved to rural NSW I had to learn how to make one by myself. I had made myself a dress from a vintage pattern and wanted a hat to match, so I worked my way through that process and enjoyed the learning experience so much that it wasn’t long before I was searching the internet looking for millinery classes.

In a sentence, tell us how you would describe your designs.
Motivated by vintage millinery design with an interesting way of looking at things, there is always a quirky and whimsical twist to my work.

What is your ideal customer?
I love a client who values quality workmanship and design. She understands her own style and is comfortable with who she really is.

What inspires you?
I have always been curious about vintage design and the history behind it. My love of hats grew from my childhood memories and photographs from the past so my head is always filled with ideas. 


If you could invite any milliner to tea who would it be?
Life is too short for small talk, so it couldn’t be just a one-milliner invite. It would have to be at least a table full so that we could relax, bounce ideas, talk politics and philosophy and hats, of course.

What is your favourite material to work with?
I have to admit that I really love working with fabrics, the possibilities are endless and the fabrics themselves are inspiring.  I have also just started working with double sided buckram and finding that to be a very exciting medium.

What’s your best millinery tip?
Have patience!! It takes time and practice to learn a new technique. Give yourself some time and then pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

If you had to make your last hat what would it be?
I don’t know if I could decide between a most fabulous Edwardian Mourning Hat in silk taffeta and organza, or a divine Victorian French Bonnet in black velvet with a shirred silk interior. Maybe, the French Bonnet?

Famous words to live by…
“Walk Softly” made famous by Roosevelt as in “Talk softly…” but I prefer the morphed version.

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