Historical information

Ann Austin of Melbourne was the name of a Melbourne millinery house. Thelma Prentice was one of the partners in the house, and the chief designer/milliner. Very little information about the millinery house and the milliner are available online but there is an interesting article, published in the Brisbane Courier Mail on 8 October 1949 which describes the influence of French style on fashion and design in Australia. The article by Lucy Gough recounts the views of Thelma Prentice who had just returned from the Paris fashion shows.

"Australian millinery toes line with Paris
From LUCY GOUGH LONDON, October 7 (Special)
Australian hats can compare very favourably with those designed in Paris, and are considerably cheaper, says Miss Thelma Prentice, partner in a well-known Melbourne millinery firm, who has just completed six months' visit to England and the Continent. An ordinary hat, Miss Prentice said, would cost at least £15 from any of the top Paris houses. Australia could achieve the same effect for a lot less money. Miss Prentice went to all the Important dress shows as well as the millinery houses in Paris, because she believes that millinery is an accessory to fashion and to obtain the best idea of new trends hats must be shown with frocks to get a complete follow-through and tie-up between the two. At their packed shows, with standing room only, Path and Dior were selling hats they designed, faster than many well known Paris millinery houses, Fath's favourite line was the becoming 'wing treatment,' which he achieved by a profile flattering side swing of material jutting out almost 10 inches from the face. This was completely different to the side drape already seen in Australia. Dior, as a direct contrast, was specialising in skull hats, which almost followed the hair line, to show very little hair at the back of the head. His cocktail hats were heavily sequinned and beaded. Every model was designed exclusively for short hair, and Miss Prentice, whose own hair is beautifully short cut by a Paris hairdresser, said that French mannequins' hair was so abbreviated at the back it was almost a semi-shingle. Hats generally she found were plain, with sharply angled self trimming, and black one of the most popular colours."

The hat was donated by Kathleen Gervasoni, a resident of Kew, and during the 1970s a Mayoress of the former City of Kew.


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

High crowned hat made of burgundy felt with decorative pink jersey turban folds attached to the side by clusters of pink beads. The hat was designed by Thelma Prentice of the ' Austin of Melbourne' millinery house.

Inscriptions & markings

Label, inside centre crown, woven in black on white polyester: *ann austin / OF MELBOURNE