Maudies Millinery delights at Blake & Taylor

Maudies Millinery delights at Blake & Taylor

First created in 1908 by Parisian milliner Caroline Reboux, the cloche found popularity on the heads of flappers during the infamous Jazz Age. Inspired by the glamour of the 1920s, Brisbane artist Christine Porter recreates the bell-shaped elegance of the cloche for the modern dame under her label Maudies Millinery.

An avid collector of beautiful vintage bits and bobs, Christine’s stash grew so large she decided to rework them into her favourite type of hat. With appliqués including horsehair braiding, Victorian-era lace, cellophane raffia and Bakelite buckles, these unique headpieces are completely handmade from vintage materials.

Focusing on the straw ‘summer’ cloche in shades of pink, blue and beige, Christine’s one-off designs are available at Blake & Taylor in Paddington.

The Weekend Edition caught up with Christine to find out more about her dreamy creations …

How long have you been making hats?
I’ve been making things ever since my mother taught me to sew as a very young girl. As far as hat making, I’d say around 28 years.

How did you get started in millinery?
My fascination for hats and headwear started when a dear old neighbour of ours showed me some hat-making and trimming techniques in the mid 1960s. Growing up in the late 1950s and 1960s meant that hats were worn for all sorts of occasions. So, from that time on, the fascination has grown into a passion – one that remains with me always.

Did you train in millinery?
As I mentioned, my millinery fascination began at an early age. I was always making or fixing up some sort of headwear for my dolls, myself, my family, my friends and friend of friends. In my late twenties, I started making Victorian-inspired silk baby bonnets and children’s cloth hats, which I sold at markets. A few years later I moved back to Brisbane, enrolled at TAFE and completed all the necessary certificates to qualify me as a milliner. This was a very exciting achievement for me.

Where does the name Maudies Millinery come from?
When my dream of starting a small vintage-inspired millinery business was realised, I didn’t have any particular name in mind. For me, the vintage-inspired process starts with sourcing an old, crumpled and forgotten hat and then taking it apart completely. Many (but not all) old hats have a maker’s label on the inside band. As a memento, I always remove the labels and keep them. One of the first hats I recreated had the label ‘Maudies Millinery’ on the inside band. Well, the rest is history in more ways than one. I researched the Maudies Millinery business and found that it had been operating in the USA during the first half of the 20th century. Like many small businesses of the time, Maudies Millinery closed down when the popularity of hats waned in the later years of the 20th century.  So, I was able to adopt Maudies Millinery as my own business name. For me, it is the perfect name befitting my small vintage-inspired hat business and also in some way allows Maudie to live on in the 21st century.

What is it about 1920s cloches that you love so much?
I love many, many things about 1920s cloches. Where do I start? There’s the bell shape of the hat worn low over the eyes, which is so indicative of the flirty flappers with their short hairstyles and red lips. Also the shift in fashion and raised hemlines from the stylised Art Deco influence. And, of course, the Charleston dance craze. However, for me, the cloche not only represents a shift in fashion trends and ideas, but above all it reminds us of the liberating change for women that occurred at the time. Gone were the old corseted and constrained Victorians with their cinched waists, oversized gowns and gigantic headwear, replaced by an enfranchised era of freedom, frills, fun and frivolity.


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