Until I met Bec and Andrea from the Millinery Association, I was completely unaware Millinery existed. Looking at their beautiful display of Fascinators at The Sydney Royal Easter Show I was reminded of the things I have lost after too many proseccos at the races in my early twenties. Other than that, hats were merely a thing I used to keep my very pale face from burning in sunlight after 11am – an often unsuccessful endeavour. But it turns out Hats and Fascinators are part of the intricate craft of Millinery. For Bec and Andrea, they are most commonly asked ‘do you make hats or fascinators?’ Well, they make both.
‘Milliners‘ make women’s hats. Women’s hats and the process of making them is called ‘Millinery‘, and a hat shop that sells them is known as ‘a Millinery‘. ‘Hatters’ make men’s hats. The process of making men’s hats is ‘hattery’, and a men’s hat shop is called ‘a Hattery.’
As of 2019, the Sydney Royal Easter Show, included a Millinery category in its Arts & Crafts competition schedule. Prizes are awarded in four classes: Spring Millinery, Winter Millinery, Themed Wearable Millinery and Student Millinery – although students are also eligible to enter all other categories.
In 2021 the Easter Show showcased and celebrated 35 Milliners from all over Australia.
The Millinery process often involves creating the entire hat or fascinator structure through wire before even starting on the finer details. From there Milliners will work with a variety of different materials to craft its finish. From cotton, linen, silk, wool, fringe, ribbon, mesh, tulle, feathers, felt, fur, leather, straw and artificial flowers. The display at this years show covered a variety of themes; from rural celebrations and floral designs right through to avant-garde wearable art hats. Truly anything goes, perhaps this were the mad hatter got his ideas!
To become a milliner you usually have to complete a VET qualification but you can also become a milliner by completing a traineeship in Millinery and working with Master Milliners. There are plenty of courses to choose from with most moving online following covid-19 lockdowns in 2020.
You can learn more about the art of Millinery from the Millinery Association of Australia.
Check out my talk with Bec and Andrea here.