The Myer Millinery Awards, held on Crown Oaks Day during Spring Carnival, is undoubtedly the most prestigious millinery competition in Australia. It is an invite only competition (although you can submit an application to be considered) that was introduced by the Victorian Racing Club in 2005.

Each year upwards of 50 milliners are invited to enter the competition and showcase one piece worn by a model. The competition is always a highlight to see, there are so many stunning pieces on show with ideas and designs that the world has never seen before.

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2015 Myer Millinery Award winner Cynthia Jones-Bryson.

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2014 Myer Millinery Award winner Jill Humphries.

The milliners entering the competition have planned and spent months crafting their signature piece in hopes of being named the National Millinery Award Winner.

In this post, I interview two of the 2016 Millinery Award winners and ask them to share their millinery journey thus far and details about their winning piece.

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2016 Myer Millinery Award winners

Justine Gillingham Millinery – 1st Runner Up

justine gillingham award winning milliner

Instagram: @j_g_millinery

justine gillingham millinery

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you live and your signature style.

I am a mother of two pre schoolers, a smallholder/ hobby farmer and a milliner. Our family moved to the Mornington Peninsula 4 years ago where my husband and I manage an 8 acre property growing organic fruit and vegetables.

justines house

We purchased the property with a dilapidated 1920’s worker’s cottage that I have lovingly rebuilt as my studio.

fascinator workshop

My signature style is heavily influenced by my garden. My 2016 collection featured heavily in hand painted butterflies, dragonflies and flowers, accented with curled quills to give the impression of flight.

2) How long have you been a milliner for and where did you learn, or are you self-taught?

I fell in love with millinery 5 years ago after attending my first short course whilst on maternity leave. 2 years and 2 children later I completed a TAFE Certificate II and launched my first range working with winter felts, naturally dyed with local eucalypts.

After completing my Cert II, I continued to study under Rose Hudson who has been an incredible teacher. I was able to fine tune traditional techniques whilst developing my own unique style.

cathedral window glass hat

3) Describe your winning piece and where you got your idea / inspiration?

My award winning piece was inspired by cathedral windows whilst travelling through Europe, particularly through Italy. I also love visiting the National Gallery of Victoria and admire the Leonard French stained glass ceiling in the great hall. I love the way light streams through glass casting colour across the walls and floors.

I had a very strong vision of what I wanted to achieve. I worked through various materials with a lot of trial and error to bring that vision to life. I wanted to create the illusion of a woman standing in front of a grand stained glass window and I achieved that with the use of transparent plastics, hand painted with stained glass paint.

The height was strengthened with