Historical information

An article in the Melbourne Age (2 March 1978, p. 25) recorded the retirement of Clare Ralph of Goullet of Melbourne (active 1953-78).
"One of Australia's most talented milliners, Clare Ralph, of Goullet, is selling her business because she wants to spend more time in her garden. "I have been in the business for 25 years and last week I turned 60 and so I thought now is the time," Mrs. Ralph said at her Richmond shop yesterday. ... Mrs. Ralph is selling cheaply $10,000 for the label, which also covers sportswear, and tenancy and lease of the premises which have a showroom and workroom. ... Mrs. Ralph is as unpretentious as the relaxed Goullet styling which brought the new concept of millinery to Australia non-hatty hats with none of the "Melbourne Mum" quality so rife at the time. She said she started off making hats rather than dressmaking because she couldn't afford to buy the three yards of material necessary for a dress. "I wanted to get out of the house and so I did millinery night classes at Caulfield Tech." Her first efforts were sun-hats of natural straw which Mrs. Ralph trimmed extravagantly … "gold fishnet and braiding and sparkly jewels all over the crown. "They were ridiculous but a lot of fun," she said. She carted them by train to the city and nervously showed them to a store buyer. After the meeting, she couldn't face taking the samples home again on the train and left them. Before she could collect them, to everyone's amazement particularly Clare Ralph's, they had been sold. "The next thing was people were asking me what I was going to do for winter. I hadn't thought I was in the industry. I just thought I had sold a couple of sun hats and that was marvellous because I needed the money," she said. If the new buyer is interested, Clare Ralph will continue designing hats on a consultancy basis for them, which would be great for all the fans she has collected since those crazy sun-hat days.


The Kew Historical Society’s fashion and design collection is comprised of costumes, hats, shoes and personal accessories. Many of these items were purchased or handmade in Victoria; some locally in Kew. The extensive hat collection comprises items dating from the 1860s to the 1970s. While most of the hats in the collection were created by milliners for women, there are a number of early and important men’s hats in the collection. The headwear collection is particularly significant in that it includes the work of notable Australian and international milliners.

Physical description

Finely woven straw woman’s hat designed by Clare Ralph for her millinery label Goullet [Melbourne]. The hat features a cream ribbon around the base of the crown.

Inscriptions & markings

Label: Goullet