Yellow sailor-shaped hat - velvet and feathers. Made by Thomas Harrison of Melbourne. Thomas Harrison (1897-1981) was a leading Melbourne milliner from the 1930s. He began his millinery career in 1920, and by the late 1930s had a salon and workshop at 163 Collins St. He later moved the business to Toorak Road, South Yarra. He continued millinery work until 1975.

Part of a collection of hats ordered and worn by Lorna Waller (1912-1997), an artist and aesthete. The collection represented the avant-garde of fashion in 1940s Melbourne. Some of the hats were made locally, and some were imported.

Millinery styles varied enormously between the late 1930s and the early 1950s. In the late 1930s, Salvador Dali and other Surrealists had a dynamic impact on the range of hat shapes. The onset of World War II resulted in a shortage of materials to make hats, so trimmings were used to create an upbeat mood in the face of hardship. Towards the end of the War, restraint was the key look, and the turban was again popular. Later, gaiety prevailed and, with it, feathers were back.

Born in New Zealand, Lorna travelled overseas when young and settled in Melbourne. While at the National Gallery School in the mid-1930s, she took up with her teacher, the artist Napier Waller. They did not marry until 1954, when his first wife died. An independent income enabled Lorna to maintain an apartment in Spring Street, decorated in a bohemian style. The leopard skin prints and slacks she once wore to the Lyceum Clu proved too much for conservative Melbourne: she was told to go home and change.

Physical Description

Yellow sailor shaped hat. Mesh interlining blocked into shape and covered with velvet. Brim wired and covered with creme feathers.

More Information

  • Collecting Areas

    Home & Community, Clothing & Textiles

  • Acquisition Information

    Donation from Ms Anthea Mereweather, 18/12/2001

  • Manufacturer

    Thomas Harrison of Melbourne, Melbourne, Greater Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, by 1968
    Latest date based on date Thomas Harrison moved from 163 Collins St to a new premises in Toorak Road, South Yarra.

  • User (Probable)

    Lorna Waller

  • Inscriptions

    Text on tag: Thomas Harrison/of Melbourne/3RD FLOOR/CHARTERS HOUSE/ 163 COLLINS ST.

  • Classification

    Clothing, Female, Headwear

  • Category

    History & Technology

  • Discipline


  • Type of item


  • Object Dimensions

    24 cm (Width), 24 cm (Depth), 10 cm (Height)

  • Dimensions

    270 mm (Length), 280 mm (Width), 80 mm (Height)
    Measurement From Conservation. Measuring Method: Maximum dimensions

  • References

    Text regarding Lorna Waller and history of millinery drawn from exhbiition label draft in sup-file, dated 22/10/2002. An exhibiiton of Thomas Harrison hats was held at the Ian Potter Centre, NGV, 29 Sep 2006-27 April 2007. Refer NGV web site for details. Information on Harrison in Object Summary is drawn from this source.

  • Keywords

    Fashion, Fashion Design, Millinery