Category Archives: On the move to USA – September 2013

Looking back and forward – raise your hats

A week back in reality and the boots have been shelved. It was 41 degrees today in Broome so the Nashville purchases will be stored for a little while yet … the straw Stetson from Texas on the other hand is an essential, even worn to the clothes line.
There’s nothing worse than the post holiday blues. This state of being sets in when the bags are unpacked, washing is done, show and tell is over and you’re wearing a dint in your mac pad scrolling the holiday pics.
Of course, the only way out of these blues is to book the next adventure.
Lucky for me I have a full-time job that I enjoy and that keeps me busy and I started back the day after my touch-down in Broome. I’ve also been back in the hat studio, walking the beach, catching up with friends and done a fabulous long girly lunch.
Friends keep asking me what was my favourite part of the trip but I struggle each time to respond. Everything was a favourite; the accommodations, the food, the catch ups with old friends and the meeting of new. Bubbles on the boat in Sausalito, the US Open tennis, the Lion King on Broadway, Speakeasy Bathtub Gin; Beauty and Essex, Eataly, the Sex and the City Tour, the top of the Rock, Empire State Building and of course, the Fashion Week events and this is only in New York.

Times Square NYC
I’m still dreaming of the Blake Shelton concert in Nashville and the music, boot shops and bars. And the cowboys, rodeos and comedy show in Fort Worth Texas; even my local bars and coffee shops in each US state that I called home.
In summary though, I guess I would say that in San Francisco it was catching up with friends, boating and sourcing beautiful materials for hats.

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In New York it was the fashion, food, shopping, architecture, walking, meeting lovely milliners and their hats.

The Hat Shop NYC

The Hat Shop NYC

In Nashville it was the country music, along with the cowboy boots, bars and hats.

Blake Shelton

Blake Shelton

And in Texas it was the wild frontier history, juicy steaks, cowboys, cowhide, rodeos, shoe shines and Peters Brothers hats.

Peters Brothers Hats

Peters Brothers Hats

The service was great, the people are friendly and they really do say ya’ll but you know me, it will always be about the hats.

Travelling gives you such the new lease of life. Inspiration, confidence, reflection and direction and I’ve come back bursting with it all.
The highlight from the trip however, has blossomed since I got home.
What could possibly be more exciting than fashion, food, Broadway, boots and hats?
Showcasing your own hat collection to the world!

Hats by Felicity

Hats by Felicity

Fashion Gallery New York Fashion Week has invited me to bring Hats by Felicity to the New York Fashion Week runway for Spring Collections, 2014! Yes, read this again if you must … I am heading back to New York Fashion Week – this time as a designer.
I know, I know! It’s crazy! I’ve been pinching myself for days and it’s true.
All I can think about is if I hadn’t travelled to New York, this state of exhilaration would not be me.
If I hadn’t stayed at the Crowne Plaza in Times Square I wouldn’t have met Colette and Melba when I booked to see the Lion King and without meeting these two angels I sincerely doubt I would have ended up at Fashion week. If I hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have blogged about the designers and events and if I hadn’t blogged, the connections would never have been made. If Gregory from Fashion Gallery hadn’t offered, I wouldn’t have this absolute honour to accept.
If I hadn’t had that nasty melanoma removed from my arm in February, I wouldn’t have booked to New York.

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Follow our dreams beautiful people and live every fabulous moment in life.
We did say the only way out of the blues is with the next adventure, so I say bring on New York 2014 and raise your glass and hats to living life. x f

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Fort Worth Texas, where your hat is your statement of you.

I haven’t at all been offended of the many references to Crocodile Dundee and Steve Irwin since my arrival into Texas but I am thinking Australia needs a female outback identity for these yanks just the same.  I guess wearing my crocodile belt didn’t help.

Fort Worth Texas has been another rip snorting chapter of the adventure.  My home was the Omni Fort Hotel in Houston street Fort Worth and as my boots have one last shine by Frank the resident shoe shiner and Barry waits with my bags, I know I am going to miss this place.

Texans are so friendly and so very passionate about their country, their heritage and their frontier history.   Their pride in the cattle industry as producers of succulent beef and in agriculture in general is simply delicious.

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“What brings you to texas”? was the response when my aussie accent gave me away (which was each time I opened my mouth), followed by “you are so brave” when it became apparent I was travelling alone.  The big, confident Texans are definitely less likely to travel solo.

My heart fluttered when I arrived into Fort Worth with all the hats and boots perched at the bar.  And like how many of us grew up, the emphasis on boots being polished and hats shaped the right way – it all just makes you proud.

In Texas the men not only hit on you but they tell you they are hitting on you, just in case you haven’t caught on.  Like tipping, the behaviour just seems to be the norm. something that we aussie’s take a little getting used to.  Their forwardness is actually quite helpful when you are trying to determine if someone is just being super texan friendly or if they are after a little more.

The other stand out Texan way is cigar smoking.  So many texans smoke cigars and the smell will now remind me of Texas.

When I walked into the iconic hat shop, Peters Brothers Hats, I met Brad who is 5th generation of the Peters Hats family and I was fortunate to be shown around the family business showroom and workshop.  As Brad discussed the importance of matching the hat, belt and boots I likened this to the important trio of the hat, bag and shoes for the fillies when they head trackside to Kentucky or Broome.

Peters Brothers Hats has been creating hats since 1911 and are not only famous for their quality workmanship but also for creating hats for A listers including the US presidents up until JJ Kennedy.  A custom made Peters Bros hat is as essential as vegemite at breakfast and when combined with custom boots and belts from Leddy’s, a texan is most definitely dressed and ready to go.

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Texans are as passionate about their hats as they are about their national anthem.  At the Stockyards rodeo there were only a few of us without our hat and hand over our heart when the crowd rose to their feet and sang, very clearly, every anthem verse.

Cowboys are everywhere in Fort Worth and if they are not the type wearing hats and boots, then they’re playing football league on the field.  The NRL Cowboys final’s game was on the day of my departure and the day before, their opponents, the Rams, booked into the same hotel as me.

The Rams caused more havoc than a cattle stampede as fans took over the hotel for a glimpse of their idols.  I was stuck on the 14th floor when they arrived, waiting patiently for the elevator that had never before been late.  Rumour goes that the Rams hired out 5 of the 6 elevators for their players, leaving the one elevator for the rest of the hundreds of guests.  By the time I got down to the lobby, you guessed it, the doors opened up and there they were waiting to get in – teams of big, fit, giant rams and this little aussie got mustered right up with them.  Somehow I ended up on the Rams side of the roped off area.  I was lost amongst their knee caps and completely overwhelmed at their physical presence and size.    I was down under alright.  Didn’t even bother to get my camera out as what was at my eye level was not for publication.

When I managed to cut myself out from the mob I headed straight to the whiskey and rye bar to get over the ordeal and to surround myself with the other  type of cowboys.

I immersed myself into the Texan history and culture by wandering through the infamous stockyards and the many museums, including the cowgirl museum, even the cattle museum and of course, the other way to immerse is by sitting with locals in bars like the White Elephant and the Whiskey and Rye.  The Mustang Million was also on during my stay which is a huge event.  Cowboys start months prior with a wild mustang (brumby) that they break in at their ranch and then bring to showcase how well they have done so through the week long competition.

As well as the stockyards and rodeo and museums and bars, I also took myself off to a hilarious improvisational comedy show called Four Day Weekend.  I haven’t laughed so much since Julia Morris’s last visit!  I was in tears and given it was my last night in Texas, before the blues had the chance to set in, this hysterical laughter was the best medicine of all.

The cowboy hat is a world apart from the cocktail headpiece but the passion for its creation and the personality they both sustain couldn’t be more alike.

When at Leddy’s at the Stockyards  I watched and learned as a hat maker shaped a young man’s hat.  He was competing at the mustang millions and wanted a new hat for the event.  I heard this young man ask for more shadow, as he doesn’t like to be on show and as the hat maker put more crease in and brought the front brim down it reminded me why I love hats.  The hat, whatever style, is a whole lot more than first thought.

As famously quoted by custom hat maker, Sheila Kirkpatrick …

“A cowboy hat sets off a person.  It tells others who you are and what you stand for.  It is your statement of character”.

As you all know I feel exactly the same about the headwear I create and wear.

Australia is too far down under for most texans to get to though, so those of us that share the passion are going to have to wear the lid on their behalf.

Keep smiling when you tip that hat ..

x f

Here’s a few little texas pics for ya’ll to enjoy …

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The elephant bar - one of my favourite watering holes

The elephant bar – one of my favourite watering holes

Lane Frost memorabilia

Lane Frost memorabilia

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Ya’ll come back now ya hear

Friends who had been to Tennessee told me that Nashville is all about music, boots and beer.  Having now experienced the south for myself I have to say that Nashville is absolutely all about music, boots and beer.

From the moment I walked down this honkey tonk town I had a grin from ear to ear.   It was only 10 am and already Tootsies was going off and with an inquisitive crowd gathering on the sidewalk to get in.  And every other bar was just the same.

A walk down Nashville’s Broadway takes you on a door to door pub crawl with live music belting a tune from every single bar.  Multiple stories host multiple bands.  The music confusion starts from the top of 5th avenue but as you progress down the hill you start to choose to which bar you are headed.

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It may only be breakfast time but regardless, people are singing, dancing and drinking up and down, in and around, even peddling bars through the streets.  After all, it’s 5pm somewhere.

My first impression wasn’t that overwhelming but unbeknown to me at this stage no one else was awake yet.  Other than those already (or perhaps still) in the bars.  A few hours later however, I was completely overwhelmed.

The first place I wandered into in Downtown Nashville was not a bar (believe it or not), it was The Corrin Bros. Hat Shop.  A scrumptious, authentic, stylish hat shop; primarily supplying men’s hats but with an atmosphere to attract all.  There is something very antique about a hat shop.  Memorabilila adorns the walls and the smells of leather and felt sooth the senses and the soul.

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Nashville is full of history and memorabilia honouring musicians and the music and movements they created.  Country music particularly is everywhere, even coming from speakers on the sidewalks and buskers on the street.

Whist I was happy to throw cash into the guitar case of a busker I have to admit I was uncomfortable with the amount of beggars in the streets; this was the case in  NYC too.   They sit on the pavement with their head down, holding a cup and a sign asking for money.  One such sign held by a woman in Nashville saying she was pregnant and broke was later spotted being held by a significant other woman, which didn’t make the beggars anywhere near as authentic as the boots.

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The performers in the bars, however are all trying to make it the right way in Nashville.  Their job is to bring people to the bar and keep them there.  The singer makes money from the tips and the bar makes money from the beers.  Everyone is a winner and happy in Nashville.

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I also came across another style of money making in Nashville.  The male and female bathroom attendant has everything they can think of that you might possibly need from perfume to lollipops.  I was taken completely unaware when I came out of the toilet and this woman held me up with a pump soap.

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When in Nashville you’ve got to see a concert and I went to the Bridgestone Arena to see Blake Shelton.  Bridgestone holds 20,000 people which is more than the census population of Broome.  I was so overwhelmed at the crowd and in awe of the performance that I had to have a beer or three.  With beers this size you can’t have too many more.

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As well as the music and the boots it’s all about drinking in Nashville and Blake, like all the bar performers hollared to the crowd to hold up our drinks, just to make sure everyone is drinking.  Hmmm … music, boots and compulsory beer drinking – I took a liking to Nashville Tennessee.

The Blake concert too, was nothing short of magnificent.

In NYC on the Sex and the City tour I met up with some women from Victoria, one of whom was going to be in Nashville the same time as me, so of course we ran into each other in the street.  I didn’t recognise Jodi at first who was sporting a new NYC hair do but I was thrilled that Jodi spotted me.  It was great to catch up with Stuart and Jodi for a few beers and corn cakes.

Travelling on your own has its definite advantages but it’s great to have someone to catch up with too and it’s always wonderful to meet new people.  Of course they have a friend that lives in Broome.

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In one of the many boot shops in Nashville I came across a stunning collection of antique ladies hats.  This was the most beautiful find and one unfortunately I was not allowed to photograph.  The hats were purchased by the shop owner from a deceased estate and were for sale for $100 US each.  They were beautiful. All so small they wouldn’t fit a single head that I have measured, though.  So I soaked up their beauty and headed my boot scootin way.

If you love music and boots, whiskey and beer then you will love Nashville Tennessee.

This down-under milliner took a great liking to the place that is most certainly all about the music, boots, HATS and beer.

Ya’ll keep smiling now, ya hear.

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New York Fashion Week – balancing life in heels

I arrived so early to the first Fashion Week event that I spent the next hour balancing in my new heels on the sidewalk outside. I wasn’t the first to arrive but I was the second. The first was a woman who was representing her sister, Joyarte Jewelry Couture, a texan jewellery designer who’s jewellery was being worn in the show today. We were both ridiculously excited and early.

My new friend Melba and her sister Jessica arrived soon after. It was their first invitation to a Fashion Week event too and we were like little school girls, taking our pictures out the front and trying for a glance as organisers set up inside.

Being this early and starting the line you would imagine we’d be first into the show but the Aussie Milliner was once again on the wrong side of the entry door (story of my U.S. life). As they gestured everyone to form a line on the other side of the entry this made us practically last in line for the show.
I was balancing from sore foot to foot in my new heels when it dawned upon me that the term ‘fashionably late’ came from the fashion industry. Our 2pm show that we were told to arrive at by 1.30pm was now half an hour late but at least the line was moving, even though we were at the end of it.

The fashionable Gregory was prancing up and down the line separating the VIP’s from the rest when he asked Melba who we were with. When she told him (I had no idea of course) his response was ‘why on earth didn’t you say’ as he parted the crowd and whisked us inside to our fabulous VIP seats.

We were at the ‘Designer’s Collective’, showcasing the work of eight new designers. The atmosphere was so exciting. The lights dimmed, the chatter stopped and the music started the show. The first model on the runway was a male, an attractive, very toned and near naked male. Oh how I love fashion.

One after one the models strut the runway, the fashion was awesome, the models were amazing, the atmosphere was electric. Everyone was at the same party – smiling (except the models, who don’t smile), oohing and ahhing at the show. It was such a buzz.

Each designer would appear with their models after their last piece was shown, some were given a standing applause, cameras flashed, cheers rose and we were in a world of buzz and hype.

The lights dimmed as a surprise was announced. We sat in waiting until they arrived – children, little completely made up bambino models with pouts and struts like their idols, showing the cutest of cute children’s clothing. The crowd was in awe as these kids walked the walk with emotionless faces – it was like something you’ve never imagined nor seen. Beautiful yet slightly disturbing.

Then as quick as the show started, it was over. After all that waiting and build up, heel shuffling, excitement and hype – it’s all over – just like that. So we grab our gift packs and go.

Outside, back on the pavement Melba, Jess and I make meet up plans for the next show that was in four hours time. We went our own ways and as I sat in the taxi and the in-cab video advertised New York Fashion week I had the biggest smile on my face – I had just attended my first New York Fashion Week show and hilariously, unknowingly as a VIP.

After thinking it impossible to get to a show I had managed to get tickets to two, as a VIP to both. However, realistically, given they are invitation only, I think most people at these shows are VIP.

For the evening event we were a little more local and prepared. We arrived slightly later and went to the other side of the door for the line. We signalled Gregory as soon as we could catch his eye and in the same heels but in less pain, I was at the Carlos Alberto Haute Couture fashion show.

This event was sponsored by Moet and Chandon champagne and Fou-dre’ vodka (how perfect).

As we entered the crowded room full of fashionistas we grabbed a glass of very good bubbles and made way to our seats. After strategically placing our belongings on our chairs I didn’t know which way to turn. The music was pumping, guests were grooving and the Helen Mills Event Space was alive and happening.

I was standing there with the biggest smile on my face, in my new Ralph Lauren dress, with bubbles in hand when I was gestured to the black carpet for a pic. This was one of those moments when you wish you had Jemma from Bohemia for Hair with you. I had the new dress, italian shoes and Diane von Furstenberg clutch and the Flicca makeup and hair! Cameras were clicking and I was panicking with no idea which way to look or turn. Then it was thumbs up, hugs on my way off and my moment of stardom was done.

Completely overwhelmed and now having lost Melba and Jessica in the crowd I made my way back to my seat, which had now been taken and my belongings moved alongside. At this stage I really had no idea what to do. The fashionista was vague in response to my polite mention, with my seat number in hand that this was in fact my chair. I hadn’t come this far to give it up. So she assumed the next seat on and I swiftly moved in.

The show start was fashionably late but I wasn’t getting up and was firmly planted in my chair. The magnificent Melba realised the situation and grabbed for me my next glass of bubbles, bless her and a few seats down from me Melba and Jess took their seats.

The Carlos Alberto show was magnificent. The clothes, the models, the atmosphere and again, the children (I am going to need some minnie hat models for my next show) … it was all absolutely amazing. Before and after the show the DJ has the crowd groving their moves, everyone is dancing. The DJ plays such an important role in these events, keeping guests occupied before and after the show and of course, keeping the models moving when it’s lights on.

I have learnt some tips that you will see in my next parades and shows and been reassured that what I see as imperative, including the professionalism of models and honour of having DJ Rosco entertain my crowds, is on track and so very important. As I sip my bubbles amongst the fashion week crowd I’m euphoric, thankful and proud.

When I boarded the plane in Broome I thought my dream of attending a New York Fashion week event was so much less than likely. Yet, here I am in New York City still revelling from attending two shows. I love life.

As for how I came across those two tickets to Fashion Week, well, that story comes with bubbles and a catch up on my return. As you know, though, it includes taking time for a chat, to smile, be nice and treat others how you would like to be treated and above all, its a massive thank you to Collette, Melba and the Lion King.

Enjoy the pics.  x f

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Over the fashionable moon

My view is 21 floors above Broadway Times Square and as I digest another magnificent day in NYC and equally as magnificent meal from La Masseria, it’s hard to contain the excitement surrounding the small, medium and big brown Bloomingdales bags that surround me.

It’s almost a week since I departed my home town in the Kimberley WA, enroute to New York City and what a week it’s been. The bubbles and fun starting on the tarmac in Broome. My friend Tarsh was on the same flight to Sydney to represent The Great Escape Charter Company at a trade show. It goes without saying that seats 1A and 1C were alive with chatter and fizz.

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Tarsh is a long time and return customer of Hats by Felicity. I love designing for Tarsh who is always keen to push the comfort zone and wears her pieces with confidence and pride. I’m sure she wont mind me sharing a few pics of her 2013 Broome Cup Day creation.
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Qantas flight attendant Jilly looked after Tash and Flic like royalty, making sure the impending USA adventure’s bar was well and truly set.

In the Broome airport departure lounge my red top and cerise jacket was bordering a less than fashionable stance but after being privy by Jilly to a snippet of the new qantas uniform I renamed my ensemble to the Qantas clash. This new Qantas uniform of cerise and red is soon to be unveiled and makes a  milliner happy by including a stylish fedora hat.

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My stop over in Sydney was the treat of catching up with family. My mum drove to Sydney from our sheep property in central western NSW for the sleep over at my brother and sister-in-laws home. Deb is an incredibly talented artist (Deborah Brown) and I just can’t resist sharing an example or her amazing work.

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It had been too long between cuddles with my niece and nephews, so long in fact that my niece Bella now towers over me.

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After a special reunion with these precious family peeps it was out to the international airport for me. Theres a weird type of stomach moth that flutters when you arrive at the international departures gate.  For me it had been years since the passport had made a resurgence but I was oh so ready albeit nervously excited to board that plane.

On the other end of that long flight I arrived into San Francisco to visit my friend Tara and was treated with the welcome of all welcomes!

imageTara is an artist too and with an upcoming exhibition in New York City next March. Like Deb, Tara is also a graphic artist. It was Tara who designed my Hats by Felicity logo and business card when I first launched my small business almost seven years ago and it wasn’t long into this visit that Tara was throwing around ideas for a Hats by Felicity branding face lift, so #watchthisspace.

No sooner had I landed in San Francisco, I was boarding Tara and husband Joel’s boat from the Sausalito marina. Within hours of flying over the city, I was sipping champagne with a dear friend on the ocean where the America’s Cup Yacht race was taking place, and cruising past the Golden Gate bridge. No time for jet lag on this adventure!

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Tara, Joel and Xia live in Menlo Park, near Stanford university and the Silicon Valley. Otherwise known as the smart part of town. The name Silicon doesn’t represent the big lips and bits that I’ve found myself surrounded with over here but instead the silicon chip. This is where google, apple and facebook live. A tour of Joel’s workplace was a stark resemblance to my inflight movie called Intern.

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Every day was an adventure with Tara at the helm and not to forget the millinery, Tara organised a haberdashery shopping day in down down San Fran.

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I was in a world of fabric fun as we trawled through the stores, the adventure made all the more a treat with my very own haberdashery helper, Xia.

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Tara has always been a hat girl and clearly her daughter Xia is taking a millinery leaf out of her mothers book too.

imageAfter three glorious days in San Francisco the De La Garzas packed their bags for a camping trip in Yosemite national Park and I packed mine for New York. With a bitter sweet farewell I embarked on the next adventure leg.

Back home in Australia I had realised how impossible it was to acquire a ticket to New York Fashion week, learning you have to be invited to a show to get there. So my time in New York City was focussed on immersing myself in the city that never stops or sleeps, after all this is a once in a life time opportunity and there’s plenty of time for sleeping when I get home.

Having never been in a subway or boarded a train for as long as I can think, I did have a minor panic as I realised where the US Open tennis was being held. I had the great idea in Australia to purchase a ticket to the tennis however it hadn’t dawned on me to consider how I would get to the event. Having never even caught a bus in my 18 years in Broome, hours after arriving into NYC I was heading underground to the subway and boarding a train (desperately hoping it to be the right one) to the last stop on the line.

My grandfather was a great tennis player and my mum is well known to sit up into the wee hours clapping and cheering at the tennis on tv, so even though I don’t play the game, I thought it a must and was very excited to attend the mens doubles and singles quarter finals at the US Open in New York.

I just followed the crowd that flowed from the train until I found myself through the turnstiles and into the Arthur Ash stadium and an atmosphere that was out of this world.

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Stalking fashion week was still a priority and on day two in this fabulous city it miraculously became a reality with not one but tickets to two New York Fashion week events coming my way! I was over the fashionable moon!

Ever had a movie moment, where you relive a famous scene?

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These Bloomingdales bags represent my Pretty Woman moment after I realised there was nothing in the travel bag to wear to Fashion week in New York.

So as I wait patiently for Tara and Joel to let me know they haven’t been eaten by bears, with the greatest of excitement I am getting ready to head to my first New York fashion week event.

And the update on that is coming soon …

Big smiles and giggles.  x

Hold on to your Big Apple hats …

With only two more sleeps before the Big Apple adventure there is so much to do, bags to pack (with what I have no idea), lists to tick (that simply aren’t getting ticked) and Kimberley gifts to wrap (the most pleasurable task of all).

So, with all this brimming pressure it goes without saying that the most sensible thing to do this afternoon was to get a pedicure, Big apple red, none the less.
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Now I’m ready to pack.

It’s hard to believe the U.S. adventure is almost here.  The Hats by Felicity year has been so incredibly busy with our fashion shoot, parade at the races, creating  headwear and stamina for 11 Broome race meetings, including Broome Ladies Day and Cup Day and now it seems, we’re off to New York!

It’s been many years since this milliner has been on the overseas move and to say the excitement is bursting the champagne glass would be an understatement.  September is Fashion Week in NYC so I figure why not don your best hat and stalk the show.

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It won’t be all about New York, however.  Celebrity guest appearances will also be made in San Francisco, Nashville and Texas, so when I say hold on to your hats I really mean it’s going to be all about the hats.  Big hats!

For now, though, it’s all about the packing and getting this Milliner on the move.

I’m clicking my Dorothy heels and Big Apple red toes and all going accordingly, will be landing in San Francisco oh so very soon.

Welcome to the show!

Cheers, x F