Millinery Competition, Racewear

Myer FOYFL Millinery Award 2020

Melbourne Cup FOYFL 2020 Millinery Award Entry by Sydney Millinery Abigail Fergusson Millinery

The Myer Millinery Award has traditionally been hosted at Flemington Racecourse on Oaks Day of Melbourne Cup Week. The competition was founded in 2006 by Myer and the Victorian Racing Club looking to honour the milliners of the local industry. The award has long been considered to be the crowning achievement for Australian milliners.

This year with the competition going digital I thought this was my chance to enter. My entry was inspired by the bergère hat popular during the mid-18th century. A bergère  (French for shepherdess) hat is traditionally a flat-brimmed straw hat with a shallow crown, usually trimmed with ribbon and flowers. It could be worn in various ways with the brim folded back or turned up or down at whim (Wikipedia).

I wanted to do a modern take on this style perfect for a stroll through a manicured garden (or a day at the races). I named the hat Georgiana after the Duchess of Devonshire an 18th-century aristocrat made famous by Kiera Knightley in the 2008 film The Duchess which was the inspiration for my entry.

Kiera Knightley and Hayley Atwell in The Duchess (source: imdb)

This piece is crafted from a cream buntal straw, a large elaborate hand sculpted brim, wired to a round cocktail button adorned with ivory silk roses and coral and ivory shibori silk pleated ribbon rosettes. The rosettes are finished with Swarovski crystals and pearls. The brim is embellished with a flutter of hand dyed butterflies and finished with hand sewn ivory petersham ribbon.

I had originally photographed it on a mannequin but the curves of the brim seemed to get lost and I couldn’t seem to get the lighting quite right, so at the last minute I decided to model it myself.

  • Melbourne Cup FOYFL 2020 Millinery Award Entry by Sydney Millinery Abigail Fergusson Millinery
  • Melbourne Cup FOYFL 2020 Millinery Award Entry by Sydney Millinery Abigail Fergusson Millinery
  • Melbourne Cup FOYFL 2020 Millinery Award Entry by Sydney Millinery Abigail Fergusson Millinery

My original design vision changed a lot as I sampled ideas and reworked them. I am so grateful to my family for supporting and encouraging me. I couldn’t have done it without them.

My entry was not selected for the finals, however, the whole process was such an amazing experience and I am very proud of my entry. The competition provided me with a wonderful opportunity to test out my skills and new materials and challenge myself. Thank you to Myer and the Victorian Racing Club for hosting the competition and supporting the Australian millinery industry.

This hat is now available for purchase here.

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