Winner of the Myer Lillian Frank Millinery Award 2022

Inspired by Flemington VRC’s positive attitude towards increasing inclusivity within the Fashions On The Field competition, I created Flow. Velvet & Tonic is the winner of the Myer Lillian Frank Millinery Award 2022 in Melbourne.

Award Winning Millinery – Gender neutral – Flow

Right from the start, I wanted to design a gender-neutral piece. My vision was always to have a beautiful man wearing it. This project turned out just as I had envisioned.

With a focus on sustainability, I chose to work with a natural straw fibre, Jinsin, in black and cream. I acquired a lovely bundle of this luxurious-looking material from a retired milliner last year. That jinsin has been sitting there, waiting for inspiration to turn it into something special. The Myer Lillian Frank Millinery Award was the push I needed to create something.

My design looks great from any direction you look at it. Flow is a free-form sculptural hat. Jinsin is a firm straw that cannot mould onto a hat block. It does allow me to manipulate it into the most beautiful designs. Jinsin is not an easy material to work with. It is one of my favourite mediums to use in my designs. I always feel like I’m creating artwork when I use jinsin. The crown (which normally requires a hat block) is formed with separate pieces of jinsin, shaped and hand-sewn together to make the crown. The crown attaches to the head via a hair comb.

Wanting to add a touch of gold to my design, I found a set of intricate hat pins, which I purchased twenty years ago at the start of my interest in millinery! They finish off the tips of my design perfectly. See more images of Flow here.

Millinery Award 2022 - Winner

2022 Myer Millinery Award - Souri Sengdara from Velvet and Tonic - Image with Model, Stephen Jones, Souri Sengdara, Jackie Frank

Chanel 10 Interview with Rob Miles, Stephen Jones and Souri Sengdara for the Millinery Award 2022

Melbourne Spring Racing – Millinery Award 2022

The model I wanted for Flow had to be comfortable in feminine clothing. I’m highly inspired by Harry Styles’ aesthetic. Harris Reed (a designer) is also someone I admire. Both these beautiful men were my inspiration for the styling of the photoshoot and the catwalk. Never did I imagine I would find a model so perfect for this design. I put out an advert for a male model. Brodie’s complexion, hair, beautiful face and style suited Flow perfectly. It was as if I designed Flow, especially for him.

Brodie was such a great model. I was so thankful that he braved the rain and freezing temperatures to walk that catwalk for me. Brodie commented that it felt like he wasn’t even wearing a shirt as he stood there in his lace shirt, waiting for his turn on stage. He did wear a warm coat for most of the day! My Zimmermann safari outfit wasn’t a much warmer choice of clothing, but we did coordinate nicely!

It was all about coordinating with my model and being comfortable that day. I had flat shoes on so I could run around and tend to his needs with ease. I had only finished making my hat late the night before! In hindsight, I should have worn something smaller on my head that didn’t get blown away by the wind! All day I was hoping like mad that my millinery award piece wouldn’t blow off Brodie’s head! That would have been disastrous! This was Brodie’s first time at the races. It was also his first time on a catwalk! He was nervous but did so well! I hope that it was an unforgettable first Melbourne Cup experience for him.

Award winning Millinery - Fashions on the Field

On stage at the Fashions on the Field for the Millinery Award Winner - Interview

Gender neutral Millinery wins Myer Millinery Award 2022

Winning the Myer Lillian Frank AM MBE Millinery Award

Thank you to all the judges!  The Millinery Award 2022 was judged by an international panel of fashion experts including Stephen Jones OBE, Jackie Frank, daughter of Lillian Frank and Edwina McCann, Editor in Chief of Vogue Australia.

A wonderful moment to be sashed by Stephen Jones, milliner extraordinaire. Jackie Frank (the late Lillian Frank’s daughter) did a fabulous job of announcing me as the winner. Jackie said that it was very bold, very strong and out there! She said that her mother would have thought it was fabulous! Lillian Frank loved hats which made a statement.

I was so overwhelmed by all the beautiful support from our millinery community. All the lovely compliments I received about my design had me feeling like a winner. It didn’t matter if I won or didn’t make it into the top 3. We were there, showing Flow off to a crowd of admirers. There were so many stunning designs from talented Australian milliners on the day. The award could have gone to anyone.

Photo of Stephen Jones and Souri Sengdara with Myer Millinery Award winning piece "Flow"

Creating hats you love

I had created a hat that I loved. The positive reaction to my design blew me away. This reaction was not something that I had anticipated. Taking the risk of making something gender-neutral and choosing a male model paid off. It was the first time a male wore a hat on the catwalk in this competition.

It was such a thrill to win this prestigious Myer Lillian Frank AM MBE Millinery Award. I was a little star-struck to be sashed by the world-famous milliner, Stephen Jones! His work is amazing!

Thank you to Flemington VRC for keeping this special award happening. Thanks to all the sponsors of the Millinery Award –  TCL, Sofitel and of course Myer.  Winning this Millinery Award is the highlight of any milliner’s career. It’s a tough competition with so many talented milliners vying for the title.

Winner Lillian Frank Millinery Award 2022

Winner Myer Millinery Award 2022


“Flow embodies the natural flow of change.

Flow of dark into light.

Flow of night into day.

Flow of boy into girl.”

Keep dreaming and creating 🖤🖤🖤


More images of the award winning Millinery “Flow” can be seen here.