Ask any fashion-forward Australian to name their favourite milliners, and Viktoria Novak will inevitably be on the list, if not at the top.
The strength of her brand is by no means an accident, and neither is its longevity. “Everything is done the old-fashioned way: by hand. Even the simple cutting out of a flower out of leather — some people would say, why don’t you get it laser-cut? Well no, because if I do, it would not be the same.”
Unintentionally, Viktoria’s insistence on doing things right is also a wistful commentary on the current state of Australian fashion. “(Millinery) is a dying art, because now, so many designers do take things offshore, and they get things mass-produced and sell it cheaper. But we pride ourselves on being old-fashioned. You can come and actually see how it’s made by me, by a human, by hand, and it’s finished to last.”
It’s not just the craftsmanship that’s made to last, either. Her designs are made to be timeless but also contemporary and fashion-forward at the same time. “I don’t want it to be like where someone will say, ‘So Viktoria Novak 2015’ or something like that. I don’t want that. I want it to be ‘Oh, that’s so Viktoria Novak vintage, I’ll re-wear that.’”
The talented milliner works long hours, but she’ll have you know that that’s not all she does. During Melbourne Cup week, she and her husband spend time partying and having fun. “We do spend a week down in Melbourne. We always attend obviously with Myer, being in the Myer family — their marquee is so much fun and it’s so vibrant and it’s amazing.”
Viktoria also has a word of advice to first-time racegoers: “It’s funny, when you go to the races, you can pick (out) a first-timer, and it’s usually their outfit. They’ll either wear something too short, too tight, too nightclub-y or disco, or they’ll go too evening. A lot of girls go to the races and they don’t even wear a headpiece. Just do a little bit of research. Look at celebrities, look at the year before, and take inspiration from that.”
Read the rest of our interview with Viktoria Novak here, and treat yourself to our complete guide to Spring Racing Carnival 2016 — you’ll find fashion inspiration, guides to horse racing, and more interviews with the most important people in the horse racing industry.
The leather Spring/Summer 2016 Collection is now available on the Viktoria Novak website and at selected Myer stores.