INTERVIEW: LAURA DEL VILLAGGIO

Since starting her millinery career in the late 1990's milliner, Laura Del Villagio has gone from strength to strength. Laura  had found millinery to be a fantastic community oriented pathway and has met many wonderful teachers and peers along the way who have all helped to shape her as a milliner. Her designs have appeared in publications such as Real Weddings (UK) and Vogue Itallia making her millinery an internationally recognised brand. Read on to find out more about the sensational Laura Del Villagio, the face (and hands) behind the brand Milli Starr. 

What do you love most about millinery?
I love the creativity and handwork, of course, but I also really love becoming part of my customers’ stories. Most of my hats and headpieces are purchased to be worn for special occasions like a wedding or a day at the races. It's a big event and those memories will be cherished for years. I love that my work is part of that. 

How did you get into millinery?
Millinery was my elective when I was a grad student at FIT in New York in the late 1990’s. I think I was the only grad student also taking a concurrent certification program in the undergrad college. But it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up! I had been wearing hats since my early teen years and really wanted to study hat making. It ended up being the perfect combination of fashion, art, handwork and history. I was hooked.

In a sentence tell us how you would describe your designs.
Milli Starr designs are created with meticulous attention to detail in construction and composition; the result is stylish, sophisticated and sublime.

What is your ideal customer?
My ideal customer is a woman who loves hats and wears them with confidence. She has a unique style, doesn't follow fashion trends or obsess over designer labels and logos. She values quality, craftsmanship and uniqueness.

What inspires you?
I am inspired by color and texture, by vintage and modern fashion, by art and photography. If I am seeking inspiration, I'll visit a museum or spend the afternoon browsing the pages of art and fashion books.

If you could invite any milliner to tea who would it be?
Honestly, I think I would enjoy chatting over a cup of tea with any milliner. We all seem to be kindred spirits with a love for color and textiles and creating. I have made many wonderful friends in the millinery community. I love it when I am contacted by milliners coming through Austin and we get to meet in person; likewise, I'll arrange to meet other milliners or visit hat shops when I travel.

What is your favourite material to work with?
My favorite millinery material is parasisal straw. It dyes and blocks beautifully, especially when it's finely woven. Unfortunately, the quality has declined substantially over the past few years. I'm constantly searching for vintage deadstock capelines and cones so I can get the quality I want. 

What’s your best millinery tip?
Take classes from a skilled milliner if possible. If not, invest in good books and online tutorials. Make lots of hats. You'll learn something new with each one. Eighteen years on, I am still learning. 

If you had to make your last hat what would it be?
My last hat would be a hat for myself. I'd pull out all the fabulous Victorian, Edwardian and 1920’s beaded trims and millinery feathers I've been collecting over the years and create something truly spectacular. I love color but personally only wear black, so this hat would be black on black with lots of texture and subtle sparkle. 

Famous words to live by.
“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” ~ Coco Chanel

» View more creations by Laura Del Villaggio

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