Brisbane-based milliner, Martina McGrath, has earned a herd of loyal fans for her beautifully hand-crafted hats and fascinators. Combining the traditions of millinery and race wear with a modern twist and hint of whimsy, Martina shares the inside scoop on achieving gorgeous race day style from head-to-toe!

With Spring Racing Carnival approaching, what headwear trends are you seeing emerge?

The boater will continue to be a strong trend this season. It’s such an easy hat to wear and you can play around with the proportions, which is really fun. I think we’ll see a lot of headbands adorned with crystals, pearls, metallic details and delicate florals. The trend I’m most excited about is the turban; I think we will see lots of different versions of the turban this season.

Where do you get inspiration from for your designs?

Everywhere! Textiles, colour, millinery, the runway and vintage millinery…the list is endless. One of my favourite ways to get inspiration is to look at fashion bloggers and fashion books, like the Sartorialist & Women in this Town, and imagine if the women on the pages were to wear a hat what would it look like. There are so many photos and screenshots on my iPhone, it’s ridiculous!

How would you describe your own race day style?

I adore volume and colour in my clothing, which usually means I wear something quite pared back on my head. I will definitely wear a boater with a floral dress, or one of my beaded turban headbands with a jumpsuit or pants.

What should come first – the fascinator or the outfit?

This is the question I am asked most often. The answer is to build your outfit around the piece that you fall in love with first; whether that be a dress, a pair of shoes, earrings or a hat. If your outfit is anchored by a piece you love, you will look and feel happy and confident. Your eye will also instinctively edit for you when you are shopping for each element of your outfit.

Talk me through your design process. Where do you work, how long does each piece take to come to life?

It always starts with some form of inspiration and I either do up a quick description on my iPhone or a sketch. I am very fortunate that I can work from my home. I’m also able to work in the shop, which is great. The time each piece takes varies. There are so many steps involved in making a hat, and you often need to wait for things to dry and stiffen. Therefore, having more than one piece to work on is important. As a guide, a beaded turban or headband may take about 5-7 hours, and a boater would probably take about 8-10 hours, it is also dependent on the trims.

Fashion-wise, what trends do you think will be big for Spring Carnival and this season’s race day style?

I think the off the shoulder/one shoulder look will have a bit of a moment this spring racing season. It’s the perfect way to reveal a little skin during the day without being too tacky or risqué. Lots of ruffles and floral feminine dresses, paired with embellished accessories, will also feature. Gucci is a huge fashion influencer at the moment and I’m hopeful we will see a lot of Gucci inspired fashion. Bold colour and print should also be a highlight.

What other details should race goers consider to complement their headpiece?

Longer hair with a soft wave definitely suits feminine dresses and pared back headpieces. Larger hats, and clothing that has detail around the neck/shoulder, suit hair that is tied back. A side bun is beautiful under a hat as the bun can be seen from both the front and the back. If it is going to be very hot or windy day, hair that is tied back is always a better option, as your hair is more likely to remain neat and tidy. Beautiful makeup that has a definite daytime look is also really important. If your headpiece is heavily embellished or super colourful, keep the makeup simple. If your headpiece is quite simple, a bold lip is a great way to go. As far as jewellery goes, you don’t want it competing with your headpiece, so that needs to be kept in mind.

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