This prestigious prize offers the nation’s most innovative milliners the chance to display their talent and creativity to a broad audience.
It simply wouldn’t be the Melbourne Cup Carnival without high-impact headwear, and the Award proudly provides a platform for Australia’s millinery talent to showcase their skills. And watch our 2020 winner discuss the quality of millinery at this year's carnival.
2021 Winner - Belinda Osborne
The Peacock Millinery creative is one of the Northern Territory’s most highly regarded headwear designers for very good reason. Her work has a contemporary feel with a strong focus on quality craftsmanship. Here, a spring-fresh palette and feathery handiwork imbues her statement-making sculptural design with life.
Encircling the forehead, the piece has been created to resemble a beautiful cage – a comment on that feeling of confinement ubiquitously experienced this year. An oversized, upturned bow at the back of the head provides a focal point, its tail extending skyward to theatrical effect. It is from this angle that Belinda’s meticulous feather work can be best admired.
Award-winning milliner Angie Jackman is known for her dynamic designs that are recognized for their complexity and technical prowess. And this kaleidoscopic creation is a sublime case in point. Her signature sculptural, geometric aesthetic is in evidence here, but any sharp edges are softened thanks to the headpiece’s pretty pastel colour palette.
Reams of rainbow-hued thread are woven deftly around a wire frame, the repetition creating a soothing, origami-style effect. The result is reminiscent of a pretty summer parasol, hovering effortlessly over the temple of its wearer.
A Swirl of Feathers is the title of Carole Maher’s extraordinary entry that is statement-making in its simplicity. The Sydney Millinery Company creative has approached the classic Audrey-shaped hat with a contemporary lens. Outsized proportions – think an oversized crown and broad, sweeping brim – lend the piece an elevated feel.
It’s dialed up even further through the use of over 450 goose nagoire feathers, each one meticulously hand cut and curled to encircle the hat’s traditional curves. Finished in a glossy navy hue, it’s a look that delivers timeless style with maximum impact.
Enza Geddes is the designer behind Melbourne’s tHAT Millinery, a brand that offers seasonal collections fusing traditional techniques with a high-fashion focus. Her whimsical Award entry is a masterclass in modern minimalism, with its coolly considered colour palette and clean lines.
Bringing a sense of fun to classical hat making techniques, crisp sinamay and pleated crinoline are expertly manipulated into a quirky-cool design. With Cézanne’s Still Life with Cherries and Peaches as inspiration, the finished product is both artistic and super chic, guaranteed to grab attention on race day.
The traditional black and white dress code of Penfolds Victoria Derby Day was the reference point for this chic and graphic headpiece. Jo Peterson, of Jo Maree Millinery, is the mastermind behind the sharp octagonal silhouette, which brings the mathematics to millinery.
The designer showcases sharp, geometric lines wrapped around classic black button blocked base, built to anchor the look. Metallic tones bring life and light to the piece’s angles and enliven the timeless monochrome colour palette. Neat proportions and an asymmetric placement finish the look, delivering understated style.
Entitled Brighter Days, this joyful creation from milliner Lisa Watt was dreamed up to capture the sunny beauty of the daisy. The humble bloom brightened the designer’s springtime lockdown walks, its presence hinting at better times to come.
Lisa’s creation turns the flower on its head, creating a petite umbrella shape that frames the face. The piece is fixed to a white-bound wire headband, with a hand-dyed green stem the focal point of the look. The designer’s signature pom pom detail can be found tucked inside the petals, a hidden centre of gold for the wearer to enjoy.
With the sense of new life emerging, Lisette Margini of Zia Pazza Headwear delivers a vibrant and detail-driven headpiece infused with optimism. Hand-dyed candy pink braid has been coiled expertly around delicate green crystals, evoking buds and blooms climbing joyfully skyward.
The broken crown silhouette encircles the head, held in place on a black-bound wire band that visually disappears, allowing its bright swirls to shine. The look is equal parts feminine and fantastical – an exuberant confection just the thing to top off a bright Lexus Melbourne Cup Day dress.
Milliner Natalie Bikicki’s design motivation is to create pieces of wearable art, and this headpiece is a striking example of her edgy and imaginative aesthetic. The dramatic black and gold palette is one the designer’s signature combinations and, here, she works it to full effect.
Designed to sit low on the forehead, the piece employs sculpted high-gloss latex draped in strands of shimmering chain to deliver a mesmerizing, dark glamour. Sharp spikes complete the look – a sculptural finishing touch that commands attention.
Pink and red is a favourite Melbourne Cup Carnival colour combination, and Chantelle Westlake’s high voltage creation demonstrates just why. The bespoke race wear design is striking in its simplicity. A bright spiral of sinamay is manipulated into an artful curve, its tones colliding to vibrant effect.
Perched atop a fuchsia teardrop base, the structure provides a new perspective from every angle, while a scarlet feather detail delivers the final flourish. The result is a classic, structural style that would pair perfectly with polished trackside tailoring.
Inspired by the swirling sands and azure water of Queensland’s iconic Whitehaven Beach, milliner Chris Mullane’s design is uplifting yet serene. The creative is known for her visually graphic headpieces that cleverly combine tradition with wit, and her signature aesthetic is in evidence here.
A confident sweep of sinamay splashed in bold turquoise blue is accentuated with three white-feather birds, wheeling around the hat’s broad brim. The crisp and summery colour combination lends the piece a fresh, calm feel that is nevertheless compelling.