Jo Rost: Milliner

Flamboyance and drama are the ingredients Jo Rost most loves to add to her gorgeous millinery creations.

Well, with a background in theatre design, you would expect her to include some splendour and spectacle in her hats and she doesn’t disappoint her ever-growing list of clients.

“I love theatrical costumes especially vintage style and I have a passion for hats, I find it so very exciting to be making them,” explained Jo, who lives in Melbourne.

She trained as a theatre designer and then, realising that working in theatre involved a lot of travelling and time away from home, she instead followed a career in teaching art, and has spent the last 26 years at Littleover Community School, in Derby.

Wanting to have a hobby to keep her occupied in her spare time, she went to the Wombourne School of Millinery to learn how hats were made and the rest, as they say, is history.

“Since then I have been hooked. I still have a lot to learn but I think I have a different approach to the art.

“Primarily I am an artist, and as I like to draw, paint and create, I see colour in a different way and there is definitely a theatrical element to what I do.

“Millinery is often not seen as an art form, but as well as designing and drawing the shapes, stripes and patterns, the hats are very much a 3D form and I love the actual physical making involved.

“I don’t really see any of it as work, but I put a lot of time into getting the fit right for the clients. I want them to almost feel as if they are not wearing a hat at all.

“I do my absolute best to make it as robust and perfect as something handmade can be, and it is always a thrill when people send me pictures of them being worn and loved.”

When Jo first started making the beautiful hats it was just for her own enjoyment, but eventually word got out that she was creating something special and more and more people asked for one.

“One blessing for me has been the annual Melbourne Festival. I’ve been involved practically since the start and it was Sharon Brown, who does most of the organising, who suggested that I open up my home and display some of the hats. I received such great feedback from the event that it encouraged me to continue.”

It was at the festival that Jo’s work was spotted by the eagle eye of Ingleby Gallery owner Gill Watson, who has already sold some hats for her and plans to include them in a spring exhibition next year.

“I am very excited to be able to have my work in a gallery. I couldn’t believe it when Gill asked me to take some over to her. This is a small community and I love the way we all support each other and work together to promote each other,” said Jo.

Go to for more details about Jo’s work.