The theme of the year’s Melbourne International Millinery Competition was to imagine what hat Jean Shrimpton should have worn for The Melbourne Cup Day, held at the famous Flemington Race Course in November 1965.

Image credit: Stavros Sakellaris @stavrofoto

Modelled by: Jessica Connell @jessy.circus.may01

Jean’s outfit, a short-understated shift dress with no accessories, including – no hat, gloves or stockings – caused a global sensation on that fateful day.

(Image creator: Kate Medved @katadesign)

Inspired by the simplicity and understated styling of Jean Shrimpton’s outfit on the day of the Melbourne Cup, for my submission of “what hat Jean Shrimpton should have worn that day”, I researched the background to her visit to Flemington. This included the designing of her “secret wardrobe” in fabric supplied by her sponsors Dupont, as well as early to mid-1960s millinery – especially the single colour pillbox style hat, the fashionable yet classic millinery shape epitomised by the style icon of the day Jackie Kennedy, seen here worn on the day of JFK’s assassination, in Dallas, Texas.

Image Credit:

History suggests that in choosing her outfit on the day, Jean may have been rebellious. Her outfit reflected the styles prevalent at the time in swinging London and did not conform to the traditional Australian conservative race day dress codes. As a result, she was ridiculed in the press and, more especially, for not wearing a hat.

My inspiration for the brief – to imagine what hat or headpiece Jean Shrimpton should have worn at the Melbourne Cup 1965 **-** was to create a striking yet contemporaneously styled hat, inspired by the simplicity of Jean’s shift dress, the contrasting light and dark elements of her outfit, as well as the pillbox style popularised by Jackie Kennedy.

Pictured here is Jayne wearing “Jayne”.

I choose duchess satin, a smooth fabric with no apparent texture, to reflect the simplicity of Jean’s dress. The pill box halo element was created in off-white satin and blocked over buckram to compliment the understated contemporary elegance of her dress.

Playing on the monotone nature of Jean’s outfit and her youthful non-conformist spirit, and aware that in real life, many of the racegoers would have only seen her outfit from the back, I blocked the separate crown over felt, finishing it in contrasting black duchess satin – only visible from the back.

Image credit: Stavros Sakellaris @stavrofoto

Modelled by: Jessica Connell @jessy.circus.may01

Referencing the accessory elements of her outfit are two-tone bows – another Jackie Kennedy trend. Here they echo the black tips of Jean’s white pump shoes, completing the story are black and crystal navettes alluding to the brooch on Jean’s dress.

Image credit: Stavros Sakellaris @stavrofoto

Modelled by: Jessica Connell @jessy.circus.may01

The UK-based response to my interpretation of the theme “Re-imagine the hat Jean Shrimpton’s hat should have worn at the Melbourne Cup 1965” was overwhelmingly positive, and much to my surprise, my entry entitled “Jayne” – named for my lovely local model Jayne – was selected as the winner of the MIMC’s People’s Choice, in an online vote.

Pictured here by photographer Stavros Sakellaris @stavrofoto, and modelled throughout by Jessica Connell @jessy.circus.may01 with HAMU by Amanda Lissant-Clayton @alchemymakeupartistry, are the successful entries by the four 2023 MIMC finalists.

Credits: Left to right/top to bottom

Nicholette Pottier “Prismatic”; Alison Morgan “Daisy”, Karen Bailey “Oops!”, Margaret Woodliff Wright “Jayne”.