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In the Studio with Stephanie Spencer Milliner...

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Stephanie Spencer is an emerging milliner, who in a short space of time has enchanted us all with the fairytale romance of her millinery, ethereal florals weave and twist their way across her pieces with a life-like realism. She's a true artisan in every sense, with each detail on her pieces being meticulously hand tooled and crafted with precision perfectionism.

This season her beautiful trademark black florals are presented with the addition of whites, hints of pastel pinks and creams for a Spring-time feel, and we think you'll agree are something to treasure. 

It's always a pleasure to visit Stephanie in her Collingwood warehouse studio, it's a light, airy creative hub shared by a number of other local artists, which can't help but breed inspiration all round.  

In between her busy millinery schedule she was kind enough to spare some time to talk to us about what's coming up this season, her influences and top racewear tips, and (very patiently!) let us take some photos as she worked.     

TEH - In the short time that we've stocked your millinery it has been a real hit with our customers, so tell us about your collection for The Eternal Headonist this Spring... 

SS - I've spent the last few seasons developing what could be perceived as a bit of a darker aesthetic. Lots of blacks and leathers and that sort of thing, along with quite clean, sculptural lines. It's funny, if you know me, you'll now it's nothing like my personality or even personal style! So this season I thought I would really focus on bringing together ideas of my previous collections with this really pretty, whimsical kind of Spring-time girly-ness! Most of my previous pieces have included handmade roses, so I looked at other floral inspirations, something that hadn't really been done as much, trackside, and found myself cutting out and painting tonnes of tiny Hydrangeas. I found this season to just be a bit of a play on how I could incorporate some really pretty colours into what was quite a clean, yet intricate existing look. 

TEH - You have a really strong sense of personal and distinctive millinery style, how would you describe it? 

SS - I think my fashion and textiles background is evident in my work. I always have loved working with beautiful silks with my fashion work and I've carried this through to millinery. I'll often use silk or leather before felt or straw. I think my style can be quite contradictory. Clean, minimal, yet intricate, sophisticated and playful.

TEH -  I think that's a really accurate description of your work, so what do you think have been the major style or millinery influences that have contributed towards this?

SS - After I moved from Perth, before I took up millinery, I worked in high-end fashion sales. I had the privilege of seeing so many beautiful European pieces, although was completely in love with the Giambattista Valli. His work is perfect on both the outside and inside. He is an excellent example of what I think I should strive for as a craftswoman. A completely holistic approach to design and execution. Also, In terms of influences, as with so many visual people, i have phone album just FULL of images collected from just about anywhere! I pour over them at any opportunity. You can look at the same image 7 times, for example, and for some strange reason, something unique and cool will jump out on the eight time you'll see it and you won't be able to get this idea out of your head!

TEH - For such a creative mind, it seems trip into the arts was inevitable but what first inspired you to become a milliner?

SS - My very first attempt at millinery was about 6 years ago when Waltraud Reiner came to Perth to teach a weekend course, I had just finished my BA in fashion and textiles at Curtin Uni in WA, and wanted to try something different. I came to Melbourne about a year later and met Richard Nylon through my job at the time. I enrolled in the MFI course he was teaching and discovered my skills in fashion design and construction were so much better applied to millinery. I was also quite lucky as my great-grandmother was a milliner so I inherited blocks and flower tools ect from her. I've also done a bit of full circle as I now work for Waltraud, who continues, daily, to show me the same patience and knowledge as on the first day I met her!

TEH - Although your career is just kicking-off, there must have been some proud moments, what's been the favourite so far?

SS - Seeing my hats on heads! Getting recognised for my work. They're small but very rewarding steps early in my career.

TEH - You've put a great collection together for Spring this year, what do you love most about the madness of this season in Melbourne?

SS - Seeing everything come together! The outfits, the friendships, and importantly, the champagne!

TEH -  The champagne, too right! So what's your top-tip for creating a amazing racewear look?

SS - Be yourself but abide to racetrack dress-codes! Keep your outfit polished but unique to you. Also, comfortable shoes are an absolute must!

TEH - Oh they sure are! Ok, our little fun question of the interview, what would be your perfect millinery ménage a trios - who would be wearing your hat, and who would they be wearing?

SS - Maybe Georgia May Jagger in the latest Chanel couture collection? Or Erykah Badu, cause that lady knows how to wear a good hat.

TEH - Erykah! You got me there, my favourite hat wearer of them all. And lastly, given you're clearly a music lover like us, what's your tune of the moment to listen to when getting your hat-making juice on?

SS - So many to choose from! But Nina Simone, Baltimore is a currently on rotation!

TEH - Such a good choice, possibly my favourite Nina song (that or See-Line Woman) too. Such a pleasure chatting to you Stephanie, it's a delight to have your beautiful pieces of art in our store, I know they're going to be a hit this season! 

You can buy Stephanie Spencer Millinery from our webstore here

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