Milliner, Monika Neuhauser. Image supplied.
Monika Neuhauser has been making beautiful bespoke and ready-to-wear millinery since late 2006 for her eponymous label. After initially teaching herself to make headwear she went overseas to train with the likes of esteemed master milliners such as Waltraud Reiner of Melbourne. Monika combines traditional techniques with classic and modern materials to create millinery that is eye-catching and has helped her stylish clients win many race day fashion events.
We caught up with Monika to find out more about her millinery, what inspires her and what you would never catch her wearing!
Tell us about your latest collection?
I don’t actually put together whole collections. The majority of my work is Made to Measure hats/headpieces. But of course there are hats that just want to be made so I always keep RTW pieces in stock. It’s also helpful to have a variety of styles and sizes in stock for clients to try on. It’s helpful for making choices and decisions as far as style and size goes. But never say never – it has been playing on my mind to create a small cohesive collection.
What made you become a milliner?
I have been making since childhood. Knitting, crochet, sewing, embroidery, window display… I’ve always needed a creative outlet. When the children were small and I didn’t have much time for projects I shifted furniture and rearranged our house. I still do that when my husband goes away and he comes home to a slightly altered environment. Serendipity led me to millinery. My girlfriend said one day: ‘let’s go to the races’. My Austrian heritage does not include race wear… so after some research into the matter I looked for headwear in the shops. Not successful in finding what I liked I got some ‘ingredients’ and made a headpiece. And that’s how it all began. A lot of trial and error in the beginning. Five years ago I began to travel to Australia once or twice a year to study with some of the best milliners. What you can do all comes down to technique and skills. I love the variety of hats I get to make, be it for the races, weddings, equestrian, theatre… whatever is required.
What inspires you?
Mostly it’s materials. A fabric, straw… a hat block. I also find some jewellery pieces quite inspiring. Especially bold, architectural designs and shapes.
Millinery by Monika Neuhauser.
Describe your personal style and how it influences your designs?
My style has grown quite eclectic, sometimes a bit quirky… maybe a sign of a certain age. Fashion is less important, it’s more about who you are and embracing who you are becoming. I think this also influences my work… I don’t have ‘one style’ when it comes to headwear. It’s about the wearer and their personality. But I’d like to think there is always a certain elegance to my pieces, not too costume like. And not too frilly, less is more.
What is your all-time favourite purchase?
Gosh… hard question. I like art and love buying it… whether from a gallery or an op shop doesn’t matter. But my current ‘all time favourite’ would have to be a 1970s vintage coat made with a tapestry pattern fine corduroy-like fabric.
What wardrobe item should every woman invest in?
Hats of course! A fedora, trilby or a beret… whatever suits you. It’s an instant game changer for any outfit and you’ll be surprised how many people will actually tell you how fabulous they think you look.
Do you have a style rule you always obey?
Not really. I can be a little contrary at the best of times. I just dress for myself, what I feel suits me. I do think about where my clothes come from and try to incorporate ethics in my wardrobe as much as possible. I have become very careful and restrained with what I buy. Buy less, choose well…Vivienne Westwood gives good advice, I think.
Millinery by Monika Neuhauser.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
It is always thrilling when a client wins at the racing fashion comps. It’s a big thing for them and if my millinery helped in securing a sash it’s great. In August this year I also designed for the Tarnished Frocks and Divas show in Tauranga… I made 17 hats for this “Theatre on the catwalk’ extravaganza. It took me outside my comfort zone and experiences like this are always very valuable.
What can’t you live without?
Apart from the really important things in life… Sunglasses. I am very light sensitive to start with but I also think they are a fabulous accessory. My favourite at the moment are my big, square and very blue Oliver Goldsmith sunnies. I would also be very reluctant to let go of my go-to Karen Murrell “Coral” lipstick.
Finish this sentence – You would never catch me wearing…
A mini skirt.