Doris Chivers
Doris ChiversMilliner

Doris is one of Australia’s most experienced milliners. While some hatmakers boast their extensive range of blocks, Doris claims the smallest number, yet produces the most exquisite and creative hats! Her block “collection” consists of a dome crown and an upturned wok! The hat shapes she produces are gently hand moulded using a pressing pad and iron.

How did you become interested in millinery?
I was always artistic and enjoyed fashion. My mother decided my future. During the 40s and 50s there was not a lot of work choice for young women.

I did enjoy learning millinery. When I learnt millinery, junior milliners sat next to a senior milliner and were helped and taught their methods. It was best to change jobs to get a better range of techniques.

Where and why did you learn millinery?
I started at Norman’s (Collins Street, Melbourne) in 1948, then at Beverley Hats (Centreway, Melbourne0 in 1949 and then Thomas Harrison (Collins Street, Melbourne) in 1950.

How long have you been a milliner for?
Part time for 30 years. I joined Raymor Hats in Flinders Lane in 1952. By this time I was a senior and stayed until 1959. Around this time hat fashion had declined and hair design became the fashion. The beehive look was the fashion of the time.

Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
From fashion magazines and using my own interpretation, making sure my hats were not copies but as original as possible.

What has been your most enjoyable commission?
Making my own designs for retail. In my early years we copied hats; there was very little of one’s creativity in most hats.

How would you describe your style of hats?
Very wearable, but do lean toward 1950s styles

Who do you make hats for?
Anyone who enjoys wearing hats.

What materials and techniques do you favor?
I really enjoy sinamay. I feel it is a milliners friend. Now that Esparterie has gone. I was taught in the era model millinery was totally hands on and sculptured. So I find sinamay adapts to this method well.

Any other interests?
I also enjoy fashion sewing.

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