Paris Kyne
Master Milliner

Paris Kyne 1994 - 1999

The next step was obviously to open my own business and after a few months rest, I purchased 'Helen Mobray Millinery' in Glenferrie Road, Malvern (Victoria). This business had already been trading for 43 years under Mobray and before that under Janette Vardy as 'Janette Chapeau'.

"Renovations to 89 Glenferrie Road, Malvern took 9 days, although preparations for the renovations and manufacture of my first signature collection actually took six months - 300 hats to be made from scratch is a lot of work and my inner-city home became a millinery bombsite - stock (both part made and complete) was strewn everywhere and on top of this I was still servicing my private clients for made to measure. As I couldn't bear anyone seeing my workroom/lounge room, I went to them!"

The first Salon and new workrooms of 'Michael F. Kyne - THE MILLINER' opened with the usual fanfare on May 3, 1994. A Regency interior of cream with highlights of gold was chosen as the look, large bunches of fresh flowers in spring, and huge arrangements of feathers were the normal decoration to mark the passing of the seasons.

From the outset, it was clear that only one-off designs would be produced; specializing in straws and felts. "Every person is an individual and therefore deserves an individual hat, although I mainly do off the rack, every one of the 300 hats on display at any time is uniquely different."


In a 1995 press release, I wrote, “I make full use of my magnificent collection of old wooden hat blocks. I have the largest collection in use in Australia today with 600 hat blocks at my disposal. I have the means and the ability to create any style of shape, from the bizarre theatrical to the understated chic.”

This year also saw the first commercial range; Daimaru was a Japanese department store on the site of what is now Melbourne central. It was large, lavish and stocked items were not available elsewhere in this country. It was a definite point of difference in the time before the internet, also they believed in service. A range of winter hats and hat pins were created exclusively for the store, and sold well.

Paris in 1995 Paris in 1995 Paris in 1995 Paris in 1995

The year 1996 started off with an exhibition, "The Alternative Miss World Exhibition" at Moorabbin Art Gallery. The Alternative Miss World Ball was a huge fantasy ball with a pageant, staged each year at the decrepit San Remo ballroom in Carlton. This exhibition drew together dozens of items and images from the past balls and included 12 garments and six hats made by myself, some worn by me and some worn by my friends.

All 20 vintage Mannequin heads in the Collection were restored by Mannequin Revolution in Richmond this year. All pieces in the collection date from 1910 to 1970 and include five pieces purchased from Sneddon's Millinery Coburg and five from Marilla Hats in Hobart when they closed in 1993.

Paris in 1996 Paris in 1996 Paris in 1996

A large holiday had been planned for 1997 and the liner of choice was the QE2. The year she was sailing from L.A. to Melbourne and this dated, yet vaguely majestic liner was the perfect environment to draw up all exhibition pieces for my first solo Exhibition "The Architects and the Milliner" as she had an excellent library on bard with a decent collection of books on architecture. On returning to Australia these drawings were used to guide the creation of the 13 hats to be shown in my first solo exhibition.
To publicise the exhibition a photo shoot was planned and executed at the Melbourne Tank Museum. The whole day was dedicated to shooting all the images needed for that year, and included "Style Wars" which was to be the image used on the Christmas cards that year.

And now a quaint quote from a story on myself in the Australasian Post, 27 August 1997, “There’s a whole lot of people who hate me. If you’re a struggling artist, they respect you. It is only once you’re successful that they start to bitch. I don’t want to be struggling. I want to be invited to the opening night of the opera. I don’t even like opera, but I want to be invited. I want that sort of life”.

Paris in 1997 Paris in 1997 Paris in 1997

In 1998 the Millinery Association was invited to stage an event as part of the new Melbourne Fashion Week in 1998. So Paris sat down with Sandra Forrester and planned "hat-hat tutu". It was a millinery show like none other with all the models being ballerinas dancing a fully choreographed parade en pointe, with the audience facing two different directions. The models moved around the edge of the venue being careful not to fall into the water features that surrounded the site.

"The Milliner in Cheese Sauce" was this year's exhibition and showed 15 hats modelled on Surrealism/the surrealists, staged at Convent Gallery, Daylesford. I had always been fascinated by surrealism and in particular Gala and Salvador Dali, so this exhibition was my chance to pay tribute to those who had inspired me so much.

Paris in 1998 1998 Paris in The Mermaids Bottom Paris with The Mermaids Bottom Photo by Murray Little

1999 was a year of change. I dropped my given birth name of Michael and changed it to Paris (the nickname that I had for many years). Also underway were preparations to leave Glenferrie Road behind and shift up market. “At the time, I wasn’t sure that we were ready for it, but as stagnating was the only other option, I decided on ‘onwards and upwards’”.

This year also saw me heading interstate to Wagga Wagga, to judge fashions on the field for the first time. I also competed in a lot of fun runs and curated a group exhibition. This exhibition was staged in the Meat Market Craft Center and showed how raw products like straw and felts where made in to completed hats.

Paris in 1999 Paris in 1999 Paris in 1999