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Melbourne Cup inspired creativity

Posted: 12pm 02 Nov 2020

When Maree Starkey realised she didn’t have a hat to wear to the Melbourne Cup, in Melbourne, a few years back, she decided to make her own. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Newport resident rediscovered a love for millinery, harnessing creativity she’d put to work designing and making wedding dresses, eveningwear and clothing for herself and her children for many years.

That hat – a large orange and hot pink rose – was the start of a beautiful journey which took a delightful turn, with the opening of the Dezignz by Maree millinery studio at Newport on October 9.

Loving the freedom of design in millinery and finding inspiration in past fashions and nature, she likes to use vintage trims and ribbons wherever possible, imagining the previous lives of each item. Every piece made is individual, you will never see two the same, and they are all handmade.

Each is like a small, or large, work of art and Maree takes great pleasure in the process of her work.

The process

“It’s in my head. I’m inspired more by the colours and putting colours together. The older 50s Audrey Hepburn they’re all wonderful, but then you can do something silly like a flower that sits on a headband,” Maree explains.

“I like to have all the materials, feathers and everything around me, then I go from there.”

She attracts clients at Brisbane Race Club milliners’ market high tea and other functions, but also through word-of-mouth.

Some clients will phone her with the details of what they’re planning to wear and leave it up to her to craft the perfect hat or fascinator.

Favourite styles

“I do like the big brims, they’re not the most wearable, but they do give that really sophisticated, very 50s sort of look,” Maree says.

She has started creating sun hats, which can be worn more frequently, and also loves creating pieces for weddings.

Maree’s been busy in the lead-up to the Melbourne Cup, after a slow year due to COVID-19, and is looking to next year’s winter racing carnival with optimism.

“A lot of people don’t realise what’s on the peninsula – not just my business, but a lot of other businesses,” she says.

“You can get custom-made and bespoke pieces or there’s plenty here you can look at.”

Dezignz by Maree Millinery Studio is open by appointment, during Business Hours. After Hour appointments are also available. Phone or text 0401 690 912 or email dezignzbymaree@gmail.com for a time that suits you. The entire range is also available on the website

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