About the Artist
Laura Del Villaggio earned a Certificate in Millinery from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York in 1999 and her millinery business, Milli Starr, was established in Austin, Texas in 2004. Laura has an extensive background in fashion and textiles, from apparel design to textile chemistry and conservation. She has worked as a vintage clothing store manager, fiber arts instructor, collections research associate, theater costume designer and milliner.As Milli Starr, Laura offers bespoke services, designing one-of-a-kind millinery for special events such as weddings, races and galas. Original hats have been spotted in print publications and on the runway, stage, and screen, and at the Kentucky Derby, Dubai Cup, Royal Ascot, etc.Laura won 2nd place (2019) and 3rd place (2015) prizes in an international millinery competition hosted by HATalk magazine (UK). Both years, she was the only participating US milliner to be recognized.Laura is an active member of the Milliners Guild (NYC) and is currently serving on the Board of Directors. She served as Secretary of the guild from 2017 to 2020.Locally, Laura serves on the Fashion Design Department Advisory Committee for Austin Community College and teaches millinery for their Continuing Education program.
The possibilities within the realm of millinery are near infinite. There is only one rule: the final design must be lightweight and comfortable to wear. Hats can be conventional or defiant, sculptural or architectural, purely functional or fashionably flamboyant. They can convey a character or tell a story. What other accessory does that?!?I made my first hat in 1997 and thousands of creations later, I am still intrigued by the process and opportunities for creative expression. No other medium has captured my heart like millinery! I love the history of the craft. It is intricate, tactile, and labor intensive. The tools and techniques I use in my studio are very similar to those employed by hat makers and milliners in the 17th century. I use steam to soften materials before shaping them over carved wooden forms resembling a fedora, a cloche, a beret… Each day, I play with sumptuous textiles, blending past and present fashion influences and striving to keep millinery relevant in the 21st century.