There was a time when pheasants had to be mighty careful or their elaborate plumage would end up in a hat.
More recently, the focus in the millinery world has switched to ostrich and cock feathers along with silk flowers. The milliner's work bench is now home to an array of straws, from sinamay to buntal.
This season, the Irish millinery scene sees the arrival of a new medium for hats - birch wood. A white hard wood, birch wood traditionally pops up in kitchen cabinetry.
However, crafty mum-of-two Ailish McElroy, who lives in east Clare, has been busy with her kettle and iron, turning it into a 3D objet d'art for your head.
A former graphic designer, Ms McElroy said: "We are so environmentally aware these days, we need to start changing the way we think as designers and think of what we can use that can be locally sourced. I wanted to produce something that would offer high-end design using something that is environmentally friendly and sustainable.
"With the birch wood, I was looking for something that I could work with that would have rigidity but also the flexibility that I could mould from a flat shape into a 3D surface."
Ms McElroy took four weeks to complete 'Felix', a two-tone red laser cut piece which explains its €650 price tag. She is the newest member of the 34-strong Irish Council of Fashion Designers (CIFD), which supports professional Irish designers and within its ranks are eight milliners.