Diane Dudley
Diane DudleyMilliner

How did you become interested in millinery?

During late high school, I was a bit preoccupied with Victorian fashion. When millinery was mentioned at a careers evening, millinery sounded like the perfect job. I was told “Nobody wears hats! Choose a modern career!” That fired the spark even more!

Where did you learn millinery?

The Hat Factory in Auckland. When I learnt there, I was taught by old school milliners – wonderful ladies!

How long have you been a milliner for? Where else did you work?

Ten years, a couple of years while studying at university for a BA (Soc Sci). I also trained first as a florist, which I have found fabulous for developing a knack for line and composition.

Where do you get inspiration for your designs?

Sometimes I like to work by taking hats from other decades and modernising/putting my own spin on them. I get ideas all the time from colours, shapes, images that make an impression. The main thing is to make a hat that looks good with a particular outfit and the person’s face shape, cheekbones, jawline and shoulder width. Headgear is very subjective.

What has been your most enjoyable commission?

For an international dance group, I made up petal comb headpieces to go with their funky 60s style outfits. The colours of the outfits and the headpieces were really out-there and inspired. It’s always a kick to work on something completely different.


How would you describe your style of hats?

An emphasis on lines and angles to work with faces. Fun, quirky, but elegant and edgy. Often they work well on their own, but sometimes I trim to give softness and frivolity to a hat. I often find I have themes (such as my “candy range” hats inspired by licorice allsorts and ice mints). I particularly enjoy adding a modern feel to hats from other decades, the 50s styles are my favourites.

Who do you make hats for? That is, church goers? Brides? Everyday winter wear?

Weddings, races, fashion shows and everyday wear. I also do quite a bit of work for brides that want to wear something a bit offbeat.


What materials and techniques do you favor?

That varies a lot depending on my current ideas of the moment. At the moment I’m having fun with various braids and beads. At the moment, there’s a lot of uniting fabric, sisals and swiss braids together.

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