Jill Humphreys Interview

Jill Humphreys is a well recognised Australian milliner, with numerous awards to her name and clientele wearing her headpieces at fabulous events all over the world. Best known for her leatherwork, Jill has been designing her fabulous signature pieces from her Melbourne studio producing beautiful pieces setting the benchmark for milliner style. We talk with Jill on her awards, her millinery and what makes her work unique.

What do you love most about millinery?
The freedom to create whatever you desire out of anything you want.
 
How did you get into millinery?
I hosted a conference over the Melbourne cup and as part of that organised a milliner to attend and sell pieces. I tried on the pieces and commented how much I loved them. She let me know about the training available so I investigated and signed up. Also I had always worn hats, my great grandmother was a milliner, my family owned one of the largest private fashion retail businesses in NZ when I was growing up - so I suppose all roads lead to it.
 
In a sentence tell us how you would describe your designs.
That's tough - I suppose strong but feminine with my use of leather. 
 
What is your ideal customer?
One that knows what they want. I will turn away someone that is wishy washy and wants ten things included. That is not letting me create, but them trying to be a designer and milliner - they are not so I let them go.
 
What inspires you?
Nature for my millinery and my family for everything else in my life.

 
If you could invite any milliner to tea who would it be?
Someone from an underprivileged country that wants to be a milliner. Most have no access to supplies or tutorials so even having a few hours over tea could be great for them and I would love to learn in turn, their homeland techniques. 
 
What is your favourite material to work with?
Leather - I taught myself so had no limitations imposed on me. I think if you teach yourself something you get a stronger understanding of its capabilities.
 
Whats your best millinery tip?
Design your own blocks if you can as there are many people that will copy you, but if you can create your own you have a massive advantage.
 
What has been the biggest challenge you face in millinery and how do you over come it?
Constantly being copied. Coming up with something and within weeks seeing copies. Even down to people taking photos of my work to other milliners workshops and asking them to help them create it. But it does push you to come up with something new. 
We were absolutely in awe of your beautiful Myer Millinery Award entry where you took out first place, can you tell us a little bit about the design, how it took shape?
Thanks, the design happened after a client gave me a Vintage hat with a 2d bird on it. I pulled that apart and studied the way the bird was made. Then I sketched a 3D version of my own design and sent it to my block maker. The blocks were in my studio for months in pieces until about a week out then she came together. I have a large collection of vintage hats that I study for ideas, trims and techniques and being self taught, this has been invaluable. 
 
Famous words to live by.
Haha no famous ones - my words to live by are usually something like "An espresso martini please".

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