Viktoria Novak – Designer & Creative Director
Posted February 13, 2019, by Jenny Sakr
Being crowned (no pun intended) the “milliner to the stars”, Viktoria Novak is the queen of statement headpieces. Whether you’re off to a day at the races, donning a custom design on your wedding day or just want to add a little oomph to your look, Viktoria has been the go-to milliner since launching her own business in 2006.
Once told she’d never succeed from solely designing headwear, Viktoria has proved her critics wrong. From the catwalks of New York Fashion week to dressing glamourous celebs, Viktoria is praised and loved by the bridal and fashion industry. Read her career story and how she’s stayed at the forefoot of fashion.
Tell us what a day in your world may look like
No two days are ever the same in my creative hub. Being the designer, it’s important that I dedicate as much time as possible to creating. I personally meet with each of my clients. Then, of course, there is social media, responding to important business matters and creating new designs + collections.
Tell us about your study journey and how you became a milliner
I became a milliner by pure accident. I always knew I had a creative gift and for this reason, always studied arts. After graduating from college, I pursued a career in interior design. I worked in the Interior world for a little while, but then I decided to study fashion design. It was my intent to become a costume designer, however during my studies “Bachelor of Fashion Design” I was placed into a millinery class my pure luck, simply because I forgot to select my own elective. It turns out that fate had its way and therefore, I was able to find the gift that I have which is, creating headpieces, crowns for women and men to enjoy.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
I always wanted to become a shoe designer. At a younger age, all I ever did was draw shoes. I still have big love for shoes, who knows, perhaps Viktoria Novak may one day venture into footwear.
When did you make your first headpiece and what inspired it?
While I was completing my degree in Fashion Design, I entered a Beyond Blue competition. As part of the brief, entrants were required to interpret the feelings of depression and happiness through a piece of millinery using recycled materials. My headpiece was inspired by the Sydney Opera House, which featured a burst of butterflies all made in yellow and black recycled materials. My creation won first prize in the national competition. My teacher encouraged me to peruse a career in millinery and 12 years later I call this my career, I’m so lucky and privileged to do something that I truly love.
What’s the most interesting thing that’s happened to you in your career?
I would say the people that I have met along the way. I’m a big believer that people come into your life for a reason. I met Manolo Blahnik in 2015, and he saw my work. His words were inspiring and inspirational and it drove me to succeed even further.
Name a career highlight
Apart from being the first Australian milliner to showcase a solo runway show focusing on headpieces at New York Fashion Week in 2015, it is being in business for over 12 years. When I started this journey, people laughed at me and told me that I was only going to fail, and that millinery was not a full-time business. Millinery is an incredibly challenging niche. I understand that what I create isn’t for everyone, but those that love my art, do appreciate it. I have those people to thank for allowing me to do what I love each day.
Name a career low
It’s a subject that I don’t like focusing on too much, but when I first across large retail companies replicating my work for the first time, I felt like someone had hit me right in the stomach. I’ve grown stronger from these experiences and still face these issues today, but at the time it felt like someone had broken into my house and had stolen all my personal belongings.
What’s the most important career tip someone has given you?
Remember why you started, remember how you built your brand and remember to design what you love, not for what others think they want you to design. Those that want to follow your journey will.
What career advice do you wish someone had given you after you graduated high school?
Do what makes you happy. Chose a career that you will embrace regardless of the money. Also, never stop searching for your purpose in life.
What are the important qualities and skills should people have if they want to become a designer?
You need creativeness and the ability to think outside the square. You also need to have the ability to create your own signature style.
What important qualities and skills should people have if they want to start their own business?
It doesn’t matter what type of business you want to operate, you need to have passion and determination. The passion because you love what you do and the determination so that nobody will get in your way or stop you from achieving your goals.
You’ve been dubbed “Milliner to the stars”. Who’s the most exciting celebrity you’ve worked with?
I’ve been so fortunate to have worked with so many incredible celebrities. I remember these amazing opportunities through the looks that were created, which created historical moments in time. It is exciting when the look is well received from the public and media especially when it has not been seen before.
What’s next for you?
In the fashion world time seems to go by so quickly and because designers are always working 6 – 12 months in advance, time seems to fly even quicker. At the moment though, my short term focus is purely on designing. I’m currently working on my A/W19 and S/S19 collections.
Jenny found her way with words while interning during uni, since, she's produced articles on it all – from hair and beauty to homewares, travel, career advice and study tips. On a weekend you're most likely to find her lining up for a table at the latest cafe or restaurant.