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Model Milliner or Mad Hatter?

Model Milliner or Mad Hatter?

Published by Catherine Kelly on 9th Jul 2021

Hats hold great intrigue throughout history and everyone seems to have a Hat related story to tell. At our Millinery studio Embellish® Atelier we have held many pop-up stores over the past 15 years, and for the past 7 years we are so happy in our very own glamorous bricks and mortar store in Rozelle, Sydney. Here we create Hats, and Headpieces for all occasions. It has been the location for our many millinery related millinery teaching programmes including our Milliners-in-Residence where we host visiting national and internationally acclaimed milliners. For the past 4 years it has also been home to our Supply store - Hatters Millinery Supplies. 

So we love hearing the marvellous stories about hat encounters, favourite hats( we often carry out repairs on these), nostalgic memories about a wonderful Sydney Store named June Millinery. Here the customer would gather the base, or hat style and a range of trims, and ribbons, and other millinery finery from a large turntable to either stitch together at home or take along to the milliners on site who would pop the piece together ready for its next event. 

So the question remains. What is a milliner? And a Hatter? 

Millinery is the term used to define someone who creates womens' hats, headpieces, fascinators, hat trims, and flowers. 

There are 3 distinct types of milliners

A model milliner – who makes unique one of a kind high end couture and usually bespoke hats using unfinished hat bodies by blocking and shaping the felt or straw on a wooden block. The milliner then trims the hats with flowers, bows or other creative embellishment or flourish using millinery trim materials such as feathers, crinoline, and special braids . There is usually a high degree of hand stitching.

A semi–model milliner will buy the components such as pre-blocked hat bases, pre-made flowers, or feather trees to create the hat, headpiece or fascinator. These are often glued together.

A millinery manufacturer whose hats are created in a factory with industrial machinery both for shaping and stitching the hats together. Glue is used to attach trims, bands, etc.

What about a HATTER?

A Hatter is a person who builds Mens' Hats. Some of the techniques and material differ slightly. The felt hat bodies contain more felt in production, and consequently have more weight. Bespoke Hat makers are on the rise, but generally a more manufactured approach is used in the Hatting trade. 

It is true there is now some blurring between the lines – a Model Milliner may employ some traditional hatting techniques , and a Hatter may create more unisex styles with some more feminine hand stitching details.

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