2017 Winning Wednesday – Milliner – Carol Watson, Spring Millinery Luncheon


The Winner of People’s Choice Millinery Award – Carol Watson, The Hat Room

Expect Bold and Colourful for this Season

Racing has participants from all different aspects, you can be involved as an Owner, Industry Professional (Jockey/Steward/Stable hand/Trainer etc.) or simply as someone that attends the races either every weekend or once every so often. While we enjoy going to the races for a variety of reasons, for some racing is not about the horses, drinking copious amounts of alcohol or trying to win their millions on Winx- it is all about the FASHION!!!

In the modern era of racing there is such a big focus on race day fashion, including what is in trend and what is a no no. For the gents it is all about picking the right suit, including the colour, designer etc. For the ladies it is about the dress, the shoes, how to have our hair and what accessories to compliment the outfit- however, one of the most important parts to our outfit is our MILLINERY (Gent Tip: these are the head pieces that you see the ladies wearing at the races, commonly referred to as Fascinators/hats). This is where the most important person comes into the equation for a WINNING outfit- MILLINERS! Without the creative flair and inspirations of such talented individuals, people like myself would be without stunning pieces to add to our outfit.

On Sunday 17th September, we held our annual Spring Millinery Luncheon and the attendance was outstanding, including a lovely bunch of ladies who flew all the way from Melbourne to be with us. We were fortunate enough to have 14 amazing milliners from all along the East Coast of Australia show case their colourful creations, while enjoying a scrumptious meal. Here we celebrate outstanding achievements by women in the racing industry and today’s day was Elizabeth Treweeke (daughter of Richard Treweeke owner – to hear about the woman of the moment – Winx) and Lucy Keegan-Attard (wife and right hand woman of Jason Attard Racing).  One of the highlights of the day was the awarding of the People’s Choice award, this award involved the milliners entering a work of art and the attendees voting on their favourite.


Our Winning Wednesday interviewee this week is the lucky winner of the title for 2017- Carol Watson from The Hat Room. We caught up with Carol not long after being crowned the People’s Choice to get to know about the woman behind the stunning piece and to learn about what is on trend and the no no’s for the remainder of the Spring Carnival.

Carol, congratulations on People’s Choice, Let’s get to know the lady behind the very bold and colourful creations.

What was it about racing that got you interested in the industry?

I have always enjoyed the colour and excitement of horse racing. I love how privileged to harness the power of these magnificent animals. I also love fashion. What better opportunity to combine these two passions

When did you get into Millinery and how did you discover your calling for being a milliner?

My husband also loves horse racing so we go to as many race meetings as we can, and I dress up! I used to love creating outfits and tweaking store bought hats to accessorise my outfit. One of my early efforts involved a big Target hat and a very large amount of bright yellow fur! I still can’t believe I wore that thing, but it got me started on this journey.

Did you have to do any special courses/Where did you learn and who from?

Most of my millinery training took place in the millinery studio of Louise MacDonald in Melbourne, she is incredibly generous with her knowledge and a kind and patient teacher. I also attend millinery conventions regularly where milliners get together to learn new techniques from the Gurus and network with like-minded creatives.

Over the last 9 years, I have seen and experimented with many, and mastered a few, diverse and exciting millinery trends and techniques. The most recent was a few weeks ago when I had the pleasure of learning from Ian Bennett, and awesome UK milliner who shared his clever Crystaform knowledge in Melbourne.

Where do you draw your inspiration from when creating your pieces?

My inspiration often comes from a client’s outfit and brief, but I am always playing with materials to see what possibilities exist; other times, I see a shape or subject in an everyday situation and I will try to incorporate that into a design. Obviously there are some important considerations to be taken into account, e.g. wearability, weight, balance and height.

The best part of my job as a milliner is when you see the finished piece on a client with the rest of their outfit and they look and feel fabulous and confident. Confidence is real beauty.

Have you ever created a piece, looked at it and gone “what was I thinking?”

Oh of course, I’ve had my share of disasters, fortunately most of those end up on my own head!
Millinery is one of (if not the most) important feature of a ladies outfit, so what do you see being the trends for the 2017 Spring Carnival and importantly what should we avoid?

2017 is going to be the year of the crown. There are so many interpretations of this trend; Edwardian crowns, floral crowns, metallic jewelled crowns and quirky leather crowns.

This is a flattering shape on most people that is easy to wear. Sculptured feathers are big, and Boater hats and bigger brims are also still appearing in the Fashion on the Field competitions.

They made a TV show with the name “Orange is the new black” however, I would say that Turbans are the new black!

However, I’m a big fan of the big statement hat and nothing completes an elegant outfit better than a statement brim. In terms of colour, we are going to see lots of green and yellow, and florals and black and white never go out of style. This year I suggest adding a clash of colours or patterns to make your outfit ‘pop’.

The biggest fashion faux pas this year is going to the races without a hat!

What can we expect from your Spring Range this year?

My style is bold and colourful and I love a big statement hat. However, the classic elegance of neutral traditional shapes never goes out of style, so I balance my collection with a range of timeless pieces that can be worn year after year.

Guests at our recent Spring Millinery Luncheon had the opportunity on the day to vote for the “People’s Choice”, which was essentially awarded to the Milliner with the most votes on an entered piece. You were lucky enough to be selected as People’s Choice, how did that make you feel?

I was so very honoured and flattered to have my headpiece chosen as ‘The People’s Choice Award’. There were so many great Milliners at the event and lovely pieces entered, so to win was just amazing!

Tell us about the piece you entered and why you chose this to represent you?

The piece is a classic beret shape in nude leather with handmade silk abaca flowers in pastel pinks and greens gold leather accents. The colors are very ‘spring’, and it is finished with vintage French veiling that I purchased in Paris last year.

The Hat Room- is your Millinery based business, how did you come up with the name and what is the mission of your business?

I now have a studio at home, but early on I worked out of a bedroom when my last child left home, hence the name, The Hat Room.

Here is your opportunity if ladies are looking for millinery for the Spring Racing Carnival, how can they get in touch or where can they go to check our your colourful collection?

As well as my Ready to Wear range, I also welcome special and bespoke orders. My pieces can be found on Instagram @thehatroom, or on my Facebook page, The Hat Room.

We would like to congratulate Carol again and extend our appreciation to all the Milliners that gave up their Sunday to showcase their collections, not to mention, to all the ladies that also took the time out of their weekend to come along to view the collections, make new friends and catch up with others and our sponsors that help us make the event possible- a great weekend had by all!

Interview by Kylie Johnson