Lauren Ritchie
Lauren RitchieMilliner

How did you become interested in millinery?

My Dad worked at the TAFE in Wangaratta and saw a short weekend course in Albury to make a hat, our family has always been interested in dress making and it just seemed like a fun weekend making and learning with my younger sister.  We attended the headpiece making course and returned the following month to the hat making course with Elizabeth Hemsley.  

Where did you train in Millinery?  What was the best aspect of your training?

I attended formal training at Kangan Batman TAFE with a Certificate II, III and IV in Millinery which took three years of one evening a week to complete.  I had some wonderful tutors in Serena Lindeman and Paris Kyne. TAFE training was very important in building my skills and I had the opportunity to apply these skills working while working for Louise Macdonald which was invaluable.  It has allowed me to refine my technique without the concern for developing a design and having my workmanship be the second thought or my design suffer because of my inability to complete a technique.  I was fortunate enough to undertake workplace with Louise Macdonald in my first year of study and was invited back and was part of her team for 7 race carnival seasons.

Who do you make hats for? Churchgoers? Brides? Everyday wear?

I make hats for every occasion including every day for Winter and Summer.  I really enjoy creating a special occasion piece either for a race day or wedding but also love to help a client find or create their favourite hat.  

Where do you get inspiration for your designs?

When I design I am thinking about where the piece could be worn – is it indoor or outdoor?  Winter, Summer or trans-seasonal?  I want to create a range of pieces that provide options to my customer when they are looking for their next style.  

Do you wear many hats yourself?

I do – I have a summer hat that I wear everyday outside to lunch and a selection of wool headpieces and hats by the door during winter to pick something as I step out of the house. It doesn’t have to be large but something as long as there is something on my head.   

Who would you most like to see wearing one of your pieces?

I would really like to see the continuation of headpieces growing within evening social events – Melbourne’s headpiece and hat wearing is very focused on Melbourne Carnival and I would love to see this continuing to expand. It doesn’t have to large pieces, smaller pieces can be just as stunning.  There are so many innovative milliners in Australia looking for opportunities and the experience of having a piece made or putting together a head to toe outfit is someone many women enjoy.  I think it falls back to a confidence aspect of wearing something different which is such a privileged. When my Nan saw my sister and I wear a hat or headpiece she commented about how wonderful it is to see us dressed but she then once followed this with how she was one of the first people to stop wearing hats to church.  I think this a really interest social aspect of hat wearing and I have heard many examples of similar stories.  The generation who stop wearing hats is the one that is nostalgic for the next generation to continue – it is a very interesting contradiction.  

Describe your workroom atmosphere – do you play music, share a table, can you see the floor?

My workroom is currently being relocated and I am looking forward to placing my materials and equipment in their new home to be able to share the beautiful materials with my clients.

Do you have any other interests, hobbies?

I enjoy dancing in particular swing dancing. 

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