Hats on

Trackside fashion at Ellerslie is set for welcome twist in the style stakes this season with leading milliners creating headwear made from upcycled, recycled, repurposed or sustainable materials.

Four leading milliners – Natalie Chan, Belinda Green, Jill Humphries and Monika Neuhauser have created some clever head-turning creations. 

Designer Natalie Chan has an extensive millinery collection and also offers a bespoke service for those wanting to help create and personalise a millinery piece. Natalie has had a lifelong affair for creating beautiful, feminine designs. She founded her label in 2002 catering to the special occasion market with her clothing and millinery designs.

These two millinery pieces from Natalie Chan are extremely versatile and you can wear them again (and again).

Premier by Natalie Chan (main picture above)

After wearing the Premier piece to one event, you can pop back to Natalie Chan Millinery and have the dupion bows at the back changed out for something else or for a different colour, perhaps even some flowers or leather detailing as another option.

Style Seeker by Natalie Chan

Style Seeker by Natalie Chan

Made from repurposed dupion and is chic enough for the races and casual enough for everyday wear.


Monika Neuhauser Millinery

Monika provides bespoke custom-design and ready to wear millinery. Every headpiece and hat is an original one-of-a-kind design.

two hats are created from vintage hats made from paribuntal straw and Toyo straw. They are completely taken apart – inspected for damage or fading and then re blocked and re designed into contemporary pieces. The quality of the straws is no longer available to buy and wonderful to work with if we find them.

Simply Pink by Monika Neuhauser

Simply Pink by Monica Neuhauser

Visca straw beret button enveloped in veiling.

Top Knot by Monika Neuhauser

Top Knot by Monika Neuhauser

Vintage toyo straw blocked into a mini beret button. Trimmed with a twisted knot.


Upcycled hats by Belinda Green Millinery

Belinda is an aspiring milliner from Pukekohe/Pokeno and she is extremely passionate about hats. She often searches second hand shops for some of her millinery supplies. You can find fantastic vintage materials that are no longer produced and these two examples are recent hat upcycles from Belinda.

Sun hat to fashionable boater


Vintage hat

Belinda bought this straw hat and had plans for it, wanting to turn it into something fashionable that could be worn to the races. Belinda removed the blue and white ribbon and soaked the hat in water. The next phase was to reshape it on one of her hat blocks into a ‘boater’ style hat. Trimming it with pink and red accents was the finishing touch. The hat was worn to Ellerslie Racecourse’s 2018 OMF Melbourne Cup race day recently and the wearer made the 10 in the Newmarket Style Spotter fashion competition.


Transformed into a fashionable boater

The hat was transformed from a sunhat into a fashionable boater hat and now forms part of Belinda’s hire hat collection. 

Retro 80s hat to contemporary button


Retro 80s hat

Belinda found the pink hat which had seen better days and the style was old fashioned. Wanting to turn it into something modern and fun, Belinda removed the veiling and molded the crown to a ‘button’ shaped block. As there was excess brim left over, this was used to place on top of the button hat and some artificial sweet-pea flowers were added. The veiling was then returned to the hat, wrapping it around the base.


Contemporary Button by Belinda Green

This hat forms part of Belinda’s hire hat collection and was recently worn by TracksideTV presenter Emily Bossonduring Christchurch’s Cup and Show week.


Jill Humphries

Kiwi-born, Melbourne-based, millinery designer Jill Humphries of Jill and Jack Millinery has made her mark as a leading milliner for contemporary and artistic designs handmaking more than 300 winning Fashions on the Field pieces for clients.

Golden Flight

Golden Flight by Jill Humphries

This piece was created to travel to Hong Kong as part of a couture design initiative. Jill chose feathers as the medium to show how something that is generally flat and discarded can be turned into something of beauty.

Giddy Up

Giddy Up by Jill Humphries

This beautiful Ecuadorian straw was bought by Jill five years ago from the US when a milliner was retiring. Recently she rediscovered the box of straw and turned them into classic toppers and gave them an old school treatment with black trailing ribbon and horse bit details.


Some perfect headwear ideas and perfect timing to celebrate the season at Ellerslie Racecourse, and showcase your style.

  • Barfoot & Thompson Twilight Summer Night ft. Jockeys’ World Cup – Thursday 13 December.
  • Christmas Carnival; Boxing Day Races | Wednesday 26 December, New Year’s Day Races – Tuesday 1 January.
  • New Zealand Bloodstock Karaka Million – Saturday 26 January.
  • Auckland Cup Week; Vodafone Derby Day – Saturday 2 March, Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup Day – Saturday 9 March.


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