Milliner: Laura Del Villaggio
In 1999, I earned a Certificate in Millinery from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, while concurrently studying for a Master's Degree in Museum Studies: Costume & Textiles. FIT's prestigious program offered two years of hands-on training that formed a solid base for my millinery career. In addition, I have an extensive background in fashion and textiles, from apparel design to textile chemistry and conservation. I have worked as a vintage clothing store manager, fiber arts instructor, collections research associate, theater costume designer, and milliner. Milli Starr has been my full time career since 2012 and I am proud to have built an award-winning hat brand with an international reputation.
Active member and currently serving as Treasurer of the Milliners Guild.
Millinery Instructor in the Continuing Education Department and on the Fashion Design Department Advisory Committee at Austin Community College.
Co-curator of the Hats: Humor & High Design exhibition at NorthPark Center in 2022, a collaborative project of the Texas Fashion Collection and the Milliners Guild featuring 28 hats created by contemporary and historic milliners.
HATalk magazine 2019, International Design Competition, 2nd Prize Winner: “Belinda,” green and blue peacock plumage "ouroboros" headpiece. February 2019
HATalk magazine 2015, International Design Competition, 3rd Prize Winner: “Gwendolyn,” black sinamay saucer hat with devore velvet leaves. November 2015
Austin Fashion Week, Golden Boot Award “Trailblazer,” in recognition of my contributions to the Austin fashion industry.
Located in Austin, Texas, the millinery atelier is brimming with antique and custom wooden hat blocks, silk flowers, feathers, and exquisite velvet and grosgrain ribbons. I am continually adding new hat blocks to the collection and can offer a wide range of styles and sizes from 21 inches (53 cm) to 26 inches (66 cm).
The hat-making process is very intricate and labor intensive. Steam is used to soften the straw or felt so that it can be shaped over a hat block and roped or pinned until dry. Once removed from the block, brim edges must be wired and stitched, millinery grosgrain swirled and fitted to size. Finally, the outer band and desired trims are carefully placed and secured with stitching. I love how the number of design possibilities is infinite from any particular block combination (crown + brim) ~ choices of color, various finishes or types of felt or straw, the tilt and width of a brim, then trimmings from subtle to race-worthy.
I make two seasonal collections each year - Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter - plus numerous custom orders for clients around the world.
My hats are frequently worn at the Races: Kentucky Derby, Breeder’s Cup, Royal Ascot, Queen’s Plate and many others. Thoroughbred horse racing is an exciting sport but it can be controversial. Unfortunately, the horses often have grim options if injured or aged out of competing.
In Central Texas, there is a wonderful non-profit called LOPE (Lonestar Outreach to Place Ex-Racers) that provides an adoption ranch, injury rehabilitation and re-training for former race horses.
Milli Starr donates a percentage of gross sales to LOPE throughout the year. Read more about this 501(c)(3) Texas charity on their website: www.lopetx.org
Thank you to my stellar photography team: Peter Tung, Todd White, Kandy Glass (MUA), Danielle Barr (Hair) and models Meghan, Erin, Callie, and Alyssa.
Studio images by JEJ Commercial Photography.