When it comes to the Spring Racing Carnival, what you wear on your head is just as important – if not more – than what you’re sporting below the neck.
The Melbourne Cup has seen every type of headwear parade through the Flemington racetrack, from sky high feathered fascinators to classic cowboy hats.
But there’s been an interesting shift in recent years, with more and more women opting to adorn their heads with bejewelled crowns and floral headbands instead.
So are hats truly done for? FEMAIL spoke to some of the most in-demand milliners on the heels of next week’s Spring Racing Carnival to find out this year’s top trends.
At the forefront of the crown movement is Viktoria Novak, who told Daily Mail Australia that she believes the bejewelled headbands have taken over Australia
Viktoria’s gorgeous creations have already been seen this season on the likes of Anna Heinrich (left) and Rebecca Harding (right)
At the forefront of the crown movement is Viktoria Novak, whose gorgeous creations have already been worn by Anna Heinrich and Jane Scandizzo this season.
Viktoria told Daily Mail Australia that crowns have come a long way from the shock they stirred when a few celebrities dared to wear them six years ago.
‘It’s such a huge trend now and it’s taken over Australia, which is wonderful to see,’ she said.
‘I think hats are still beautiful, and with the right look can be elegant and stunning, but the crown and headband trend is so comfortable and easily accessible.’
Yummy Mummies star Jane Scandizzo was yet another celebrity spotted in one of Novak’s original creations
Viktoria credits the recent popularity of crowns to the fact that they come in so many different shapes and sizes, and can match so many different colours.
‘Crowns tend to be done in metallic, neutral colour tones that you can virtually wear with any outfit and restyle over and over again,’ she said.
‘It’s a great investment because you don’t only wear it once. And you don’t have to worry about hat hair.’
Melbourne milliner Phillip Rhodes also credits the crown popularity explosion to the fact that social media is now a huge driving force for trends.
‘Trends are very dominant in a way they never were before,’ he said. ‘The influencers who have followers, they do indeed follow them, so you see a lot of repetition.’
But Viktoria said she works hard every year to create a new kind of trend with a different material to make sure her work never feels mass-produced.
‘This year I’m taking it to a new level of what a crown can be,’ she said. ‘I’m using chain and sourcing vintage crystals from all over the world to create more art pieces.’
‘I want to treat what you’re wearing on your head as an art piece, rather than just a headpiece.’
Sydney milliner Neil Grigg is still giving the racing world fascinators, although he has also drawn inspiration from the crown movement’s sparkle
Neil also hasn’t shied away from feathers, which have long been a huge headware trend for the Melbourne Cup
Neil Grigg is still giving the racing world fascinators, although he has also drawn inspiration from the crown movement’s sparkle.
This season the Sydney milliner is using more crystals and diamante to give his pieces a lift, as well as feathers and vintage fabrics.
Neil revealed that he noticed white was a strong fashion trend on the runway this season, and thus he made his hats far ‘more substantial’ than last year.
‘The pieces that we’re making, they’ve got a lot more in them,’ he said.
Loud prints have also made a huge splash this year, which caused many milliners to focus on block colours for their headwear.
‘Last year I used a lot of print fabrics in my hats and block colour as my trimmings, and this year I’ve reversed that,’ Phillip said.
‘I’ve made the trimming bolder and the background more sedate, as I wanted the hats to be dimensional.’
Melbourne milliner Kim Fletcher has also made her hats one single colour to complement the current fashion trends.
Melbourne milliner Kim Fletcher revealed that her clients can’t get enough of pink this year
And Neil has likewise incorporated this season’s colour in his pieces. Because white was a major colour on the runway this year, he decided to make his pieces bigger and bolder
‘Too many colours in your hats and garments would make you look a bit like everything but the kitchen sink,’ she said.
Kim has found that her hats in ‘all shades of pink’ have been extremely popular this season, no matter what colour her clients are wearing.
‘We’ve had clients choose pink even when their outfits are blue,’ she said. ‘My clients are wearing vivid reds and blues who want pink because they don’t want to be one colour.’
While crowns may be the trend du jour, Kim has found that she is selling more hats than ever before.
‘I think it’s got a lot to do with the fact that we’ve got the Dior exhibition in Melbourne,’ she explained.
Big bold prints is also huge for this racing season’s fashion, so Melbourne milliner Phillip Rhodes said he stuck to bold block colours with more subdued details
‘Last year I used a lot of print fabrics in my hats and block colour as my trimmings, and this year I’ve reversed that,’ Phillip said. ‘I’ve made the trimming bold, and the background more sedate’
‘A lot of the imagery they’ve used has been with structured hats, and I think that’s had a big influence on what my clients are wearing.’
Kim said her collection this year is ‘very, bright, very bold, and quite floral’.
And although she’s mainly staying away from crowns, the milliner has been using foam to make flowers and shapes that can create big pieces but still keep them light.
But Kim does believe that percher hats may be on their way out, and predicts that turbans could be making a big comeback.
Hair is not one style fits all when it comes to headwear, and the milliners have revealed the best ‘do’s for their looks.
If you’re sticking to hats, Kim recommends pulling hair back to the nape of the neck in a low ponytail or chignon.
‘When people think of hats, they’ll think of someone like Audrey Hepburn,’ she said.
Kim said her collection this year is ‘very, bright, very bold, and quite floral. The milliner used foam for many of her huge pieces to make sure they would still feel light
‘In all those iconic photos she has her hair behind, tied up in a bun, and it just elongates the neck. It tidies it all up and is much more elegant.’
Phillip likewise believes that sleek is always best, and recommends avoiding pairing feathers with curls.
Viktoria advises wearing your hair in a middle part with a crown to frame the face, but said she also always tells her clients to check the weather for that day.
‘Melbourne can be unpredictable and you do need to plan your head around the world,’ she said.
‘If it is rainy or windy, maybe a loose pony in the back, which is sleek and timeless. And if it’s a beautiful day, leave your hair loose and out with soft curls.’
‘Just be timeless, that’s the key.’