Meet the woman behind the wheel: veteran milliner Waltraud Reiner.
Waltraud discovered her love of hats when she came from Austria to Australia in the early 1980s. She had spent years searching for her passion, and she found it almost by accident when she came to work for Melbourne milliner Magda Urban in a little made-to-measure hat studio in Caulfield.
She has since trained under millinery greats like royal milliner Phillip Somerville and London legend Rose Cory. But for Waltraud, there is always more to learn. Her obsession with the hat trade has taken her all over the world, where she has learned new skills and long-forgotten techniques; discovered rare and exotic materials; and brought it all back home to Australia.
Waltraud launched her own millinery studio in 1990, and established the Melbourne School of Millinery (a division of Kangan Batman TAFE) soon afterward, where she taught for 13 years.
Waltraud’s passion for new materials and techniques led her to expand her business and become a supplier. Through this supply business, Torb & Reiner, she introduced sinamay (a very popular millinery straw) to Australia in the early 1990s.
After her time as a millinery teacher at Kangan, Waltraud decided to take her classes on the road. She began holding short workshops interstate and internationally. At first, she travelled by plane, but was constantly frustrated by the limited amount of supplies she could bring with her. Then, in 2012, she masterminded the Hatmobile.
Now Waltraud can take a huge range of materials and trims to each workshop – and she can make dozens of stops along the way. Together, Waltraud and Audrey go to every corner of Australia, holding workshops, supplying materials and spending time in remote communities to learn their crafts.