Madhattan

I’ve been somewhere I’ve never been before and that’s in front of a movie camera! Yes, there’s a documentary in the making and I’m in it. In fact, it’s about me, although it really feels like it’s about someone else. IMG_0320 I feel honoured for the opportunity; however, with my fear of public speaking, being in front of a camera hasn’t come naturally. The producer tells me I’ve become much more relaxed but she’s also a very kind person. So, what’s this all about? Well in a nutshell and soon to be released trailer, the story is about my creative journey to my first solo Hats by Felicity show at New York Fashion week but more so the story is about innovation, community and following your dreams; all things you know I am passionate about. Stage one of filming is complete (phew) and from that footage you will soon see a snippet, so stay tuned.

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With producer and super camera woman Caro and sound editor Craig

Apart from camera’s rolling, the Milliner has been on the move again, this time to Liveringa cattle station in the West Kimberley, for a fabulous evening at the historic old Liveringa homestead. IMG_8192 Ladies from nearby stations and from Derby and Broome frocked up for a night of hats and giggles on the homestead veranda from sunset. IMG_0206 IMG_0215 IMG_8171 I love these events. It’s from such remote locations that some women try a headpiece for the very first time, which is often when the addiction begins. IMG_8168 I love it when that one person gets the crowd moving and tries the first hat. The oooh’s and ahhh’s make my day. Usually I have only seen my creations on a foam head or on my own head, so I encourage people to try them on for my enjoyment just as much as their own and those who’ve gathered around. I love seeing how differently people position a piece on their head. I always say with my creations, “there are no rules”. I also love watching how a hat or headpiece can change a woman’s demeanour, her stance, how she holds herself, looks at her self – a hat can instantly create a confidence and release a personality. This goes for men wearing hats too. A man’s presence can strengthen; his shoulders move back and confidence grow when he puts on his hat. A hat can command instant respect and for some, their identity is their hat. 478571-ian-amp-034-molly-amp-034-meldrum article-2611723-1D48D2DE00000578-5_634x609

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Local Broome identity and friend Baamba

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My DAFWA work colleagues with their new Sunbody cowboy hats

Wearing hats, coming together for events, catching up with friends and meeting new people are all so important when you live remotely. The Milliner on the move adventures are always such a joy because we get to indulge all of the above and more. IMG_8341 IMG_0297 IMG_0277 IMG_0304 IMG_0319 IMG_0309 It’s our Ladies Day and Cup day in August and the commissions for bespoke creations have been plenty. Prior to these prestigious events though, it’s my 2015 collection unveil at the Broome Turf Club and Corporate cup race day Friday 24th July. I am in the final stages of preparation for this collection and event. And believe me; I get as nervous on my local stage as the big one in NYC! Speaking of which, the countdown is now less than two month’s till the Hats by Felicity NYFW show! I better get back into that shed! IMG_0227 Have a wonderful day and a belly laugh with a friend. Xf quotes-1461

Breakfast at Tiffany’s anyone?

I have always been infatuated by the 50’s and 60’s and drawn to the elegance and style of Audrey. Her innocence and sophistication may not ooze from this country girl in jeans but if muses are the goddesses of inspiration, then Audrey Hepburn is mine. Audrey-Hepburn-2 This year the Hats by Felicity collection sprinkles the aura of Audrey through materials, style and design. I find it so hard not to share the creations as they materialise but having accepted my second invitation to the runway of New York Fashion Week, I need to keep yet another collection under wraps.

One thing I will share with you all though, is the special little treat soon to appear in each hat and headpiece that I create. With the greatest of joy I introduce you to the new Hats by Felicity hat tag, a button made from mother of pearl. IMG_7263 Broome’s pearling history began with the pearl button, so you can imagine how proud I am to share this with the world and to honour my home of 20 years in every piece that I create. The shell is Pinctada maxima, fished from the ocean bed of the 80 mile beach, south of Broome.

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Broome history: Onboard a pearling lugger diving for pearl shell

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Broome history: hard hat divers dived for shell to produce the mother of pearl button

Twenty years ago most of us in Broome worked in the pearling Industry. I lived and worked on a boat, on a pearl farm in the magnificent Buccaneer Archipelago. I worked for a family business and we farmed the magnificent pearl. I flew to work on a sea plane and after 10 days on the boat returned to Broome to spend the hard earned cash in four quick days, before flying back out to sea. It’s what we all did! The pearling industry gets into your blood and the people you lived and worked with became yet another family, many of whom for me are still here in Broome. The Pinctada maxima oysters that we proudly farmed produce the biggest and most beautiful pearls in the world.

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View of the Buccaneer Archipelago from the plane

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Pinctada maxima oyster with pearl

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largest south sea pearl in the world

A much, much smaller version of south sea pearl might appear in my creations at this year’s Hats by Felicity show, so keep a keen eye out amongst the feathers, for our lustrous gem.

As legendary as the pearl, remember the story of Arno the Belgium fashion designer who I met at the Broome rodeo the eve of last year’s Broome Cup? https://millineronthemove.com/2014/08/23/station-hand-stitches/

It seems only right that the next Hats by Felicity chapter should include Arno, so with great excitement I announce that Arno is designing as we speak, my NYFW dress for this year’s Spring Summer runway event. As for what I’ll be wearing? Well, that’s another secret under wraps; perhaps the inspiration will be a 1929 born cosmopolitan from the same homeland as Arno himself?

I pinch myself that I’m heading back to fashion week. Already there’s not enough hours in the day and days in the week to achieve my long list of ‘to do’ but the excitement has set in and thats what its all about. This is my life at the moment and I’m waking up every day loving it! Flic and hats NYFW I’ve got another wonderful group of friends making the Big Apple trip this year to support me and I cant’ tell them how much this helps me along. I’m so blessed. A group of us have pitched in and rented a fabulous home that is walking distance from the show and would you believe, on the wall in my bedroom of this NYC home, sits perfectly a framed picture of none other than the Oscar winning Audrey herself. That’s what I call a sign.

BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S, Audrey Hepburn, 1961

BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S, Audrey Hepburn, 1961

Sprinkle kindness, beautiful people. till next time … xf

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Honouring the man beneath the hat

What a year! 2014 certainly threw a brilliant mix of opportunity, challenge, friendships and fun.
I’m still pinching myself that I showcased at New York Fashion Week and pinching the pinch that I have been invited back in 2015, for my own solo NYFW show.
This year really was a milestone for my millinery career and one that was made all the more possible by the support and encouragement of family, friends and the local and extended community. The money that was raised to help me achieve the NYFW dream was overwhelming and not a moment goes by that I don’t feel honoured and humbled and all the more amped to make everyone proud.
So the year planner for 2015 is out and the long weekends and dates and places of significance, including the Big Apple, have been marked. It’s always such a fun time blocking dates for plans to be further made. The colour scheme for this year’s diaries and organisers is beautiful hues of blue.
With the millinery commitments done and dusted for the moment, my time is committed to working on the business, more so than working within. There are proposals to write, a website to launch and collections to design. I’m excited to embark on some more industry training in the early New Year and the shed atelier studio is having a well-deserved spring clean. It feels good and I am inspired and ready to embark on 2015.
And reflecting back, wow, what a magnificent ride. The time management skills were tested, working full time for the Department of Agriculture and Food WA, by day and Hats by Felicity by weekend and night. My accommodation business also enjoyed another busy year of bookings. It was exciting and challenging to create three separate millinery collections that showcased across the globe, as well as a healthy number of commissioned custom-made pieces that appeared from Melbourne to Marble Bar, Kununurra, Darwin and Broome. And proudly, we had winners and finalist entrants in Broome and Melbourne racing events for Fashions on the Field.
It was a cracker of a year, even though at times we all wondered if the fuse was going to fiz or blow!
Like for most, though, the year also had its lows and losing another mate will always be the lowest of low.  We never seem to be spared the reminder or the grief.  And the only message I personally can ever take home, is to live life to the full; to talk about your dreams, turn them into goals and to have a go.  A great man, mentor and father figure told me many a time to simply ‘have a go’.  He too has passed now.  I often wonder if I would have ever made it to the runway without those words so often drummed into my later life.

Our friend Juddy’s accident happened the week I headed to NYC and although I missed the chance to celebrate his life with our friends, I did get to share a very special moment for him in New York.
I’m a Luke Bryan fan and went to his concert at Maddison Square Gardens. During the concert, Luke sang a favourite song that he wrote for this brother and sister, who had both passed away. Towards the end of this song he stopped and said to the sold out crowd of 18,200 fans, that he was going to sing the song again. We were thrilled. He told each of us to take a moment and think about that special person we’d lost and as we focussed, he sang the song again, this time for them. This was my very special moment and memory for Juddy.

Juddy always wore a hat. Even on the stage as a nominee for best dressed male at an evening cocktail event, he wore his hat. He was married wearing his hat.  His wife Mel says “his hat was such a part of him, it went absolutely everywhere and he protected those he loved with it”.

My millinery passion and travels have always honoured the cowboy hat and in signing off this post and this year, I honour the man beneath the hat, our mate Juddy.  I also introduce you to a song, and I wish you the very best for Christmas and a happy and safe new year.

Thank you for your incredible encouragement and chat again in 2015.

Sprinkle kindness and be happy.  X f

 

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My proud runway bow

New York Fashion Week. Wow! Where on this great privileged earth do I begin?

I don’t know how to explain how absolutely petrified, insanely excited and ridiculously proud I was all at once, that moment when the show hair stylist pushed me through the entrance and on to the runway because as we all predicted, I froze and stalled at the gate.

In the lead up to the show, our East Village apartment had likened a sweat shop as my buddies who had flown in from around the globe helped put together goodies for the 150 VIP show bags.

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Holly the sweat shop Manager

There are only certain friends in the world you can ask to fold programs without looking at the contents within.

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I wanted my friends who had made the big NYFW trip, to not see a snippet of the collection before the big day. They weren’t allowed to the viewing nights in Broome or the fittings day in New York. My house and backyard studio were even out of bounds. I wanted them to experience the wow factor on the day, as VIP guests at the New York Fashion Week show.

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Karen and Holly seated and waiting for the show

I did make one exception to the rule for my friend Jane, from the Kimberley desert region of Western Australia, to have a backstage pass to help with the models dresses and shoes and bless Jane, she even kept her glasses off for most of the backstage experience to not focus on the headpieces that I was still trying to keep a surprise. I am sure Jane and Lidia (my other saviour helping hand) could write their own blog of our time backstage, however, we’ve decided that what happens behind the scenes at Fashion Week is a form of secret women’s business that will stay behind the scenes.

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Backstage Jane has a model dressed and ready to go

While we were backstage, the rest of my 20 guests excitedly lined up for their VIP show seats out the front of the Helen Mills Event Space in Chelsea, revelling in the excitement and keeping an impressive run of social media updates for those back home in Australia and Broome.

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I was the first designer to showcase at the Designers Premier so my music created the opening mood for the show and what an emotional, heart hitting opening I proudly presented to the world. Created to perfection by incredible talent from Broome, the NYFW chatter was quickly quietened by the emotional tribal tune that left no dry Kimberley eye at the show.

Behind the scenes we could not see but only hear the crowd reaction as one by one the models took the runway and showcased to perfection, my collection of hand crafted, one-off, millinery pieces; the wearable art that had consumed my year by it’s creation.

A model prepares to enter the runway

A model prepares to enter the runway

Each piece presented to the runway was proudly named in honour of my friends, who in March this year held a surprise gala fundraising event to help me get where I proudly stood this moment – on the runway of New York Fashion Week, presenting the millinery fashion for Spring/Summer 2015.

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My VIP guests behaving according

I had been so busy backstage that my nerves didn’t enter the room until my time to enter the runway and as mentioned, I did need a little push. That walk down the white runway towards the hustle of cameras is a blur. I remember seeing my friends and being unable to control the smile that took over my face but I couldn’t hear a thing and don’t remember anything other than giving a wave to a familiar face on the way back and towards my out.

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Proudly wearing RM Williams, Sportscraft and Jewels of the Kimberley pearls from Broome

My fabulous RM Williams boots scooted me up and down that runway without me coordinating a step.  Twelve months of preparation, of creation and administration was over in around eight incredible minutes flat. The models had presented my 20 piece collection to the world and I proudly took my bow. And back in Broome now, the entire adventure seems a dream.

As the reality sets in I’ll tell more tales – in the meantime, I’ll leave you with these first pics of Hats by Felicity behind the scenes and on the runway of New York Fashion Week.

Enjoy. xf

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Station hand stitches

It’s definitely a huge relief that my millinery collection bound for NYFW is complete and on its way. All the other jobs on the NYFW to do list, however, just keep coming … the models, their shoes, dresses, hair and makeup, the music, promotional goods, naming, pricing, programs, media and of course the question on everyone’s lips, what I am going to wear?
Among the ever consuming list of Fashion Week preparations, we’ve also had the Broome race round and the famous Ladies Day and Cup Day.
I finally finished creating the last Broome Cup bespoke commission piece, which incidentally I am proud to say was for the Hon Julie Bishop, on the eve of the race event which was just in the nic of time to make it to the local Broome rodeo.
This annual, action packed, rough riding event brings the bush to town for an evening of thrills and spills and for most, is the perfect warm up for the Broome Cup races the next day.
My visiting girlfriends and I were throwing down some celebratory beverages to signify my finishing all hats and our long and overdue reunion, when we were introduced to Arno, a young station hand from a Kimberley cattle station.
Arno was working for friends of mine so I had already heard about this handy backpacker that within moments had us greatly entertained. His story telling combined with his Belgium accent had us in fits of laughter, particularly with the story of working on the horse barriers at Ladies Day, when he noticed a lady with a shocking rip in her dress. Arno had us on the edge of the rodeo arena with the story of how he whisked her away into his van and promptly sewed up her dress. Who would have guessed that Arno the station hand was a Belgium fashion designer as well?
“Show us your work” we echoed as the dust filled our jaw dropped mouths. With one eye focussed on the bull ride, the other scrolled the exquisite fashion work of Arno, our new and fashionable friend.
“Perhaps you could make my after party dress for New York Fashion week” I said, to which he excitedly replied “Of course”.
Well, that was the beginning of another thread to this journey. Arno grabbed an empty pizza box half buried in the arena dirt and after finally finding a pen, he quickly started to sketch.

“I can’t have anything long” I said, because my legs are short”.
“I know”. He replied.
“And I don’t have a waist,” I quickly added.
“I know” he said, with a slight edge of pity. How he could see these self confessed flaws I had no idea, as I was wearing a jacket, scarf and jeans.
Within minutes the crowd around Arno and his pizza box grew and when he revealed the final draft of my after party dress everyone gasped as loudly as when the ringer proposed to his girlfriend in the arena earlier that night.
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The next day Arno arrived to take my measurements and borrow my sewing machine to set up at his campsite in Broome and sew a practice dress. Four hours later he was back and pinning me into this draft creation that I would have been happy to wear to the races! This is one very talented man!
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The next day I met Arno to purchase his chosen materials for the final masterpiece and set him up in my hat studio before I headed off to my day job. I returned that evening to be pinned into the creation that had me speechless. I felt like a princess, like Carrie Bradshaw herself on the streets of New York. I was in awe.

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After a few more alterations and an early night, Arno set off for the four hour drive back to the cattle Station where he spent the week fencing and working with cattle by day and sewing my NYFW after party dress by night.
I’m yet to see the final product that will come into town from the Station this week but I’m feeling completely confident and totally excited that while other tasks remain unachieved on the NYFW list, not only do we have yet another magnificent chapter to this story but I have no doubt I will also soon have a spectacular, truly unique NYFW after party dress.
Keep smiling and stay tuned …

and here’s Julie Bishop in her Hats by Felicity headpiece.

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The white sky wish

I wished for a white sky and when you live in Broome, WA where each day is sunny and the perfect hue of blue, a white sky is quite the far fetched wish.

However, on the July morning of the Hats by Felicity parade at Broome Turf Club where I unveiled the 2014 collection, we woke to a chilly, windy and white sky in Broome.

Photographer Tao and I could not believe our luck.

The NYFW runway at the Helen Mills Event space where I will soon unveil the NYFW collection is white and I wanted to see how my hats will pop amongst white, hence the white sky wish.

The Hats by Felicity collection was paraded on an outdoor stage at the Broome Turf club event, however, you could definitely think these photos were taken in a studio room.

Thanks to the white sky wish, the below visuals showcase my current, local collection perfectly.  I love the end result.

You can see why I am ridiculously excited to see how the currently under wraps but soon to be released NYFW collection is about to pop!

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Keep smiling.  x f

 

Love the luck

This morning I went for my beach walk. I haven’t been on my morning ritual for a while and was chomping at the bit to top that stairwell and soak in the magnificence that is Cable Beach. My mornings have been otherwise consumed by sewing last minute touches for bespoke commission pieces, cleaning The Quarters, my accommodation business that is well booked at this time of the year and trying to rid a chest cold and cough that snuck in when I wasn’t looking. This morning though, I pledged myself the joy of getting back on that beach. It was a chilly morning (yes, Broome gets cool) so I put the car keys in the pocket of my hoodie, unravelled my earphones and listened to True Blue, that my iPhone shuffle so aptly played as I topped the stairwell over the beach. Ahhh that scene.

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I headed off in my regular direction towards Gantheume point and quickly found myself immersed in the morning. My thoughts were racing and they were all over the place, from the sleeping arrangements of our apartment in New York to wondering where in the world my brother’s job has him travelling today and how white my legs look in the parade photos and other small world stuff. I had walked for about 30 minutes and hadn’t even looked into the ocean where I often see a beautiful family of sting ray or better still at this time of the year, whales. I noticed a golden ray of sunshine on the boats anchored off Gantheume point and then realised how far I had walked – almost too far to ensure I make it back home for a shower and to work on time. I quickly turned, annoyed at myself for not taking in the scene and instead thinking about how well my friends would sleep on the eve of my New York Fashion Week show. I couldn’t even remember what music had played in my ears. I love to jog up the stairwell at the end of each walk. Grabbing my pockets for the impending run, I froze in horror with the realisation that my pocket was empty and my keys were gone! House keys, car key, mail key, padlock keys, work keys, you name it. There was nothing in the pocket except a hole. I looked back up that long stretch of beach. I couldn’t even remember how far up I had walked. I ran back to my car in the hope I had lost them at the beginning of the walk; but nothing. Aware of the time and the hopeless task before me I headed back to the beach and embarked what I could only hope was a similar path to what I had walked this morning. Taking a deep breath I focused on the footprints in the sand and on each shell and rock that protruded from every ounce of beach. I couldn’t believe I had been so consumed with small world stuff that I didn’t hear or feel my keys fall through my pocket. Usually I notice the birds, the crabs and sea life, the boats anchored and heading out to the horizon and the cloud formations in the sky. This morning I didn’t even know where I had walked. I walked and scanned but after reaching the end point I thought I had made it to earlier, decided to turn home and while still searching for the keys, started to make some plans about what to do when I got back to my car, presuming my car would still be there. Scanning the beach and devising the plan, I had almost made it back to the stairs having done my hour walk a second time, when the red tag popped out of the sand in front of me. There, right in my trail, amongst the many foot prints of sand, on the big Cable Beach, was my full set of keys. I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face. I bounced up the stairs, turned towards the ocean and thanked the day. How was my luck? I couldn’t believe it.

My morning walks have always been my grounding. I have forever maintained the reason I can achieve the often ridiculous schedule of life events is because I spend the morning with the beach. Cable beach passed on a very clear message to me this morning and I took it on board. What was I doing sweating the small stuff? I was so consumed, even having sleepless nights by silly, petty, worries and thoughts when all the while I have much bigger fish to fry. This morning reminded me to focus.

In six weeks I will be flying over Cable Beach, out of Australia and over to New York Fashion Week where I will represent the country as the first Australian on the runway at the Helen Mills Event Space, Chelsea, New York; showcasing my millinery passion to the world.


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Thank you, Cable Beach and thank you sweet lady Broome.

I’m focused again, albeit with stiff legs and sore calf muscles.

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