ON TREND: Julia Watson wears her own design Moonlight dreaming while Lauren Stathooles Julia's millinery design, Z for Zarbella which made the top 20 finalists.
ON TREND: Julia Watson wears her own design Moonlight dreaming while Lauren Stathooles Julia's millinery design, Z for Zarbella which made the top 20 finalists.

Milliner makes top 20

MORE THAN 40 hours went into hand making one of Julia Watson's millinery designs and last Thursday her hard work paid off when the Yeppoon milliner made the top 20 finalists in the Victoria Racing Club's Millinery Award competition at Oaks Day in Melbourne.

The local owner of Hats by Zarbella, was one of 70 entries on the day, including international entrants from all over the world.

Julia, 40, said she was over the moon when she made the top 20.

"This is such a prestigious award and just to be a part of the competition was amazing for me, especially because I've only been a milliner for the last two years," she said.

"Everything went really well on the day, there were so many wonderful millinery pieces and the good thing about them was that each one was unique and different. The milliner who won is a very well known milliner from the UK, Ian Bennett, he makes hats for the Queen and he's just brilliant, so to see his work up close was pretty awesome.

"The piece I made was definitely on trend with the metallics being a hit this season so I was really happy with that. The design was an abstract Z for Zarbella which was obviously very unique to me. I had the custom block made as a custom signature shape.

"It was made with five layers of different fabric with sequins and mesh. It took about 40 hours of hand stitching because it had so many layers and I made it as light as I could for wear-ability which was something the judges were looking at as well, so I was very happy with it."

Although Julia didn't make the top 10, she said she would enter the competition again next year.

"I'll automatically be invited to compete next year as a result of making the top 20 and I'll be setting the bar a bit higher to make the top 10 so I've already started coming up with some ideas," she said.

"People have already started contacting me with orders for next year's racing season so it hasn't stopped but that's what I love about millinery, creating beautiful pieces all year round. I wouldn't mind using some organic materials next year in some of my pieces and experiment with them a bit more, it's always good to try new things."

The racing season has finished for the year, but Julia expects some of this year's fashion trends will be making a comeback next racing season.

"I think gold will be a big colour next year as opposed to the rose gold and bronze which was really popular this year," she said.

"Blue was a big colour this year too so we might see that come back. A lot of the tailored dresses and skirts will be in, I think, and off the shoulder tops will be here for another year. The millinery seems to get bigger the better and the crowns are still going to be popular, I think, with a lot of wired head pieces and leather headpieces."



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