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About Louise

(updated in August 2017)

Click on the links to view each answer or scroll down to read the full interview with Melbourne milliner Louise Macdonald:

How did you become interested in millinery?

Where did you learn millinery?

How long have you been a milliner? Where did you start your career?

Can you mention some actors who have worn your millinery creations?

How long did you stay with this costume millinery company?

Where are your millinery designs available?

What influences your designs? Where do you get your inspiration?

When do you start preparing/planning for the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival?

Who are your customers now?

What are your recent projects?

Do you have a ready-to-wear range?

What have you done internationally in recent years?

Do you teach millinery?

How would you describe your style of hats?

 

How did you become interested in millinery?
The story began in England in the late 1980s. I was living in London and working in a completely different profession when I started doing an evening class in millinery. My day job did not require much creative expression, so I was keen to unleash that through hats! I had always been interested in fashion and textiles.

Where did you learn millinery?
In London, at evening classes with Rose Cory (who created hats for the Queen Mother) and at Wimbledon School of Art, where I studied costume and specialised in costume millinery.

How long have you been a milliner? Where did you start your career?
I celebrated 20 years of millinery in 2011 with a retrospective exhibition. I got my first job as a milliner in 1990 with a period costume company in London. I made hats for film and TV productions, including BBC dramas [Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion and The House of Eliott] and Merchant Ivory films [Howards End, The Remains of the Day and Jefferson in Paris].

I worked with costume designers, interpreting their designs. The actors came in to be fitted for the costumes including the hats. I learnt a lot about the history of hats, as I would research the millinery fashions of the period before I started making hats for each film or TV program.

Can you mention some actors who have worn your millinery creations?Actress Melissa George wearing a Louise Macdonald Milliner headpiece on a recent Derby Day in Melbourne
Tom Cruise in the movie Far and Away, Vanessa Redgrave, Emma Thompson and Helena Bonham Carter in Howards End, Minnie Driver [Mr. Wroe's Virgins], Nick Nolte [Jefferson in Paris] and Jennifer Ehle in Pride and Prejudice. More recently Melissa George [photo] wore one of my headpieces on a Derby Day in Melbourne.

How long did you stay with this costume millinery company?
I worked with this company for five years before returning in 1995 to Australia, where I set up my millinery business in Melbourne. I now work from my studio in the Nicholas Building.

Where are your millinery designs available?
I sell my designs through this website and welcome clients at my studio where they can order unique pieces. In 2015 I started selling pieces through The Eternal Headonist. Plus, since 2006 I've designed hats to go with the Hugo Boss women's wear, with exclusive designs being sold at Hugo Boss stores in Melbourne in the lead up to the Spring Racing Carnival.

What influences your designs? Where do you get your inspiration?
I get inspiration from the fabrics I use. I'm always on the look out for different materials to design hats and fascinators. I might discover new ones and get inspired by the way they can be manipulated or draped.

Clothing fashion trends are a big consideration, as my designs need to compliment these trends in terms of style and colour. Each season there are exciting new shapes, styles, colours and materials around [more in Trends and tips].

When do you start preparing/planning for the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival?
February is the time when I start researching clothing styles and colours for the coming season. From there I source materials and progress to creating my millinery collection. By June I am in full swing, producing the designs for my online shop and Hugo Boss woman's wear range. I like clients who are looking for a custom made headpiece to come in as early as possible, and August is when the bespoke orders normally begin to flow in.

September and October come and we are working in overdrive. Although busy, I love this time of the year. Melbourne Spring Fashion Week, days getting warmer and longer, people feeling excited about different events for the summer, then Melbourne Festival kicks in and the city is alive with street performers... And I can see it all from my window at the Nicholas Building, where my studio is located. It's buzzing on the streets, it's buzzing in my studio. I love it!

Who are your customers now?
Melbourne Cup punctuates my year with regular race goers, women working in the racing industry and people heading off to the event for the first time – all coming to me for a unique hat or fascinator. However, the racing season does not stop there. Australia hosts racing carnivals around the year; the Cairns Amateurs, the Darwin Cup, Broome Cup, the Magic Millions, all bring women to my millinery studio, in person or through this website.

Louise Macdonald

What are your recent projects?
In 2008 the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) purchased Miss Moneypenny and Bibi Cap for its collection. In 2016 the gallery featured these hats in the 200 years of Australian Fashion exhibition. I was thrilled to be a part of this historic fashion event!

In 2017, as part of the Melbourne Spring Fashion Week, I will exhibit a piece inspired by Schiaparelli at the Eternal Headonist's Schiaparelli exhibition, between 4 and 10 September. I also have other projects under wraps for Spring 2017, with Crown Casino and the Melbourne Racing Club – stay tuned!

I always enjoy working with Hugo Boss to create designs for their Spring Racing range and the partnership continues in 2017. On the local front I am collaborating with bespoke designer Julie Goodwin Couture. Like me, Julie makes unique pieces for her clients to complement their individual shape. I look forward to working with her to create something amazing for the Oaks Day Millinery Award at Flemington.

Do you have a ready-to-wear range?
Yes, I do. Every year I design a new range of fashion hats and headpieces. Customers can come into the studio and buy from existing stock already made up, or look at this website and order hats from current or past collections [availability to be confirmed].

What have you done internationally in recent years?
From 2006 to 2010 I worked in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, exhibiting and selling hats in the lead up to the Dubai World Cup. The event has the world's biggest prize money to the winning horse! The fashions on track are an eclectic mix, reflecting styles and trends from around the world at this international event [view Louise Macdonald's hats in Dubai 2010].

In 2014 I exhibited and demonstrated some of my work at the Caussade International Hat Festival in the south of France.

I have had many pieces commissioned to be worn at Royal Ascot, England, and I have been featured several times in the international The Hat Magazine. In 2016 I was given a 6-page spread featuring one of my workroom techniques, and in 2017 I have been commissioned to present another workroom technique in the November issue.

For the last 20 years I have been an active member of The Millinery Association of Australia (MAA). In 2008 I was the coordinator for the Hats Off To Melbourne Millinery Convention. In more recent years I have been their Education Consultant, organising professional development and international workshops for the members. I have been part of their committee since 2016, organising professional development and promotional activities for the MAA members.

Do you teach millinery?
I have taught at several tertiary institutions over the years: Kangan TAFE, Swinburne University, Council of Adult Education, Central Gippsland TAFE and Artist in Residence at BoxHill Senior Secondary College. Now I focus on offering millinery classes in my studio in the heart of Melbourne. I run weekend and 5-day millinery intensives along with some occasional shorter evening courses with milliners Love Lotus and Lauren Ritchie. This is another rewarding part of my work sharing skills and inspiring students to express their creativity.

In July 2017 I was a guest tutor at the Hats Off To Adelaide Millinery Convention. Over 100 delegates from around Australia and overseas converged on the South Australian capital to hone their skills. It was hard yakka but so enjoyable to share my knowledge with students in the daily courses I had on offer.

How would you describe your style of hats?
Elegant and quirky that relate well to the head! I guess my signature style is having flow and movement in my headpieces [more in Trends and tips].


(updated in August 2017)

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Enquiries – For more information, please contact Louise Macdonald Milliner in Melbourne.



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