Blooming oath I can

It’s been hot in the Kimberley. We’ve had a dry Wet season and the humidity and heat has been taking its toll. Amazingly though, as we mere humans melt in the heat, our desert plants have been blooming. My own desert roses have the fullest clusters of flowers that I can remember.
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The Australian outback, our rainforests, coasts, cities and towns are a constant spectacular of floral bloom and I couldn’t be more excited to showcase our colourful land through my upcoming third annual Hats by Felicity show at New York Fashion Week.

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I am completely pinching myself with the third invitation, after my runway debut at NYFW as the first Australian Milliner, showing with Fashion Gallery in 2014. I feel much smarter and more confident this third time round and although we all know the stress will rise as I near September’s show, the levels will be far less than the past two years. I may even get to enjoy my runway bow?!

To kick off the inspiration for creation I ran my Hats by Felicity competition – searching for muse to showcase Australia in bloom. The response was stunning with photo entries flowing in from around the country featuring our flowering plants that stop us in awe. The winning inspiration was from Andrea in Floreat, WA; Western Australia’s Eucalyptus Macrocarpa.

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All this encouragement has flung me well into design mode for the 2016 collections and bespoke commissions. My millinery materials have arrived and my community of feather collectors are delivering the most stunning of plumes.

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Adding to this year’s excitement is an independent invitation to showcase in West Palm Beach Florida, USA. I am thrilled that America has embraced me, and is providing me the opportunity to showcase my millinery passion and art and also to show off my magnificent Australian homeland.

The ride is never without the hiccups though, and my latest was another skin cancer surgery, a small lump from my chest. Not a melanoma this time so no complaints from me and the stitches are out and result is benign. The small scar is simply my visible reminder to continue to be positive and have a go at all goals.

Our Aussie flowers may be outrageously beautiful but the sun ‘down under’ can be downright mean. For most of us adults the skin damage is already done, therefore we need to focus on early detection and book regular skin checks and protect our largest organ, our skin. As old as the message is, we all need to remind our family and friends to slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat.

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I love to raise awareness of millinery and outback Australia but I also feel the need to raise awareness of our harmful rays and the greatness of early detection in the fight against skin cancer. Hats, health and happiness are my parting words for today. Along with a huge thank you to my friends as I near my third New York Fashion Week. Thank you to my feather collectors and inspiration gatherers – this upcoming collection will be the work of us all.

It’s time for me to get lost in my studio shed and start creating. Chat again in a month or two and in the meantime, here’s a snippet of my past two years on the runway of NYFW.

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Hats by Felicity NYFW (2014)

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Hats by Felicity NYFW (2014)

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Hats by Felicity NYFW (2014)

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Hats by Felicity NYFW (2014)

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Hats by Felicity NYFW (2015)

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Hats by Felicity NYFW (2015)

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Hats by Felicity NYFW (2025)

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Hats by Felicity NYFW (2015)

Can I do this a third time? … blooming oath I can!

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Third time is a charm

“A penny for your thoughts” I said to my friends, when the inner turmoil grew.
The invitation to return to New York Fashion Week for the third year in a row was almost too much. What an honour! What a road, what an incredible opportunity – what an expense!
I often wonder if anyone else has the inner battles between their adventurous and sensible self’s. The invitation brought an instant smile from ear to ear.  I was designing catwalk creations, planning the collection, the feathers, the styles, the models outfits, the trip … and then Miss sensible entered the room, crossed her arms and reminded me of the mortgage.
Broome to the Big Apple is no small feat but what important things in life aren’t big? It’s the challenge that brings the reward and we all know I live the cliché’ that life is too short, but there’s still that one little Mr Men book that re-appears from the shelf …

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In an attempt to put both egos to good use , I packed my car with a whiteboard, calculator, pens, paper and planner and headed on a solo adventure south of Broome; to one of my special places, with magical memories and ocean calm.

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A few days prior I emailed some friends who would tell me if I was mad to consider the NYFW contract again or alternatively, mad not to. If anyone is going to be honest, it’s our good friends. And if there’s one place to find clarity it’s on a remote beach. As the sun set over the ocean on full tide I crunched numbers, scribbled pros and cons and sifted through the suggestions, ideas and cautions that had been on my mind and had come from my friends.
The decision is the right one – two just wasn’t enough. I’ve signed the contract and I’m going back to New York. I’ve just got to go for the luck of the third adventure.

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And again, if you are interested, I’d love you to be involved. As well as crunching numbers that special place had me designing creations and for this year’s runway show I want to honour Australia’s stunning flora and fauna, be it from the desert, the mountains or the sea. If you come across any flowers and plants that make you stop in awe, please take a pic for me. I want to create a collection inspired by our beautiful flowers and plants and showcase our striking frontier land.

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This pictorial bloom of inspiration will collate in an album on the Hats by Felicity Facebook page and there’ll be prizes for the pic of pics, to add to the fun.
2016 is going to be another big year for us all. Everyone has challenges and decisions to make. Some of us will achieve the goals and some will be led to another path. Whatever the journey is for you, I wish you great health, happiness and safety, and inspiration for the road.
And to my buddies, thank you.
This is our now, and third time’s a charm.
xf

Sydney for Sunrise

Since my return from the U.S. and New York Fashion Week, my hands have enjoyed some well-earned millinery rest.

Apart from the last few bespoke orders for Melbourne’s Spring Carnival, it’s been needle and thread down and time to reflect and plan. I utilise this quieter part of year to take some time out from creating and instead work on my Hats by Felicity business, and I was doing exactly that when the invitation to appear on the Network Seven Sunrise Program appeared.

With a fear of public speaking, it was instant turmoil for me. I knew what an amazing opportunity this was but I also knew this meant facing my fear in front of a nation! I know I’ve just showcased on the runway of NYFW but believe me, appearing live on morning television in front of your home land is completely different. Within 24 hours and with little time to think or dwell, I was at the Broome airport departures lounge anxiously watching my collection of headwear load into the under carry of the plane.

A fish out of water is what I felt like when I hit the big Sydney smoke. The last thing I’d prepared for was arriving into rain and a chilly wind. My poor cardi excuse for warmth was just not going to cut it.

It was late when I slumped into bed. The three hour time difference made it 11pm and I had to be up at 5am, which was 2am in Broome, so of course I didn’t sleep a wink. Instead I watched the sun rise over Sydney before nervously heading to Network Seven studios in the rain.

Thank goodness for smart phones, I may have arrived at the wrong reception but in the right building at least and as I awkwardly juggled the box of hats around the street corner, I found myself at the windows where we see Sunrise viewers waving into the show. Part of me wanted to hold the box of hats high with a big smile but I decided it was best to take my wet hair and baggy eyes straight past the cameras and inside.

I wondered how on earth I ended up here as I walked past corridors of familiar celebrity faces framed on the walls. On about my 15th nervous trip to the bathroom I ran into newsreader Nat Barr, and shrieked “hi” like an excited mad woman before realising Nat would not have a clue who I was. We proceeded to yarn as we held open the bathroom door before I thought – heck, I should just let her go to the loo. After all, she probably only had a three minute break and I had taken up two!

The models they’d arranged for me were a dream – five lovely young women who were both professional and fun and as each of them returned from hair and makeup with piece positioned and big smile I was excited and extremely proud. When they said they felt so happy in the hats I took the moment to explain the dictionary meaning of Felicity and hence ethos of my business, being “happiness” and “bliss”. I welcomed them to smile if they felt happy as they showcased Hats by Felicity and their reactions to this suggestion grew the smile upon me.

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When I entered the studio the girls were standing in line with the camera panning a sneak preview for our segment coming up. I was petrified.



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With rescue remedy under and over my tongue and throughout my mouth (instructions were too small to read) I took my place where the girls had been, as they were led off stage ready to present. Seeing my toilet mate Nat was comforting and Sam Armytage too was a delight. I tried desperately not to notice the cameras knowing only too well it was all about to happen as the stage manager pronounced three … two … one!

With the focus on the hats and not a clue there was a camera on me I survived my Sunrise appearance and the reaction from the studio floor was great. I had little idea what I’d said or done or what the wider community had just seen but the models wore my hats and their smiles to perfection so I knew it was all going to be OK.

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It was such a privilege to introduce viewers to the individual stories of each creation among which was CondoBelle.

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CondoBelle represents friendship, bubbles and fun. I created CondoBelle to honour my very precious friends, who over the past two years travelled to the U.S. to be with me at the NYFW events; amazing women who helped make each event happen and were right there by my side.

By way of thanks and with the greatest joy, I have gifted CondoBelle to these particular friends, as our headpiece creation to share, that will enjoy a life on the road travelling to the many racetracks around Oz, perhaps even beyond …

Keep your eyes out for CondoBelle over the coming years, and if you spot her out and about, say hello to the very precious friend of mine, upon whom she will adorn.

In the meantime, through the below link, I’d love to introduce you to all my creations that travelled to the big smoke to appear on the big screen. Perhaps as you spot CondoBelle send a little cheers to all the wonderful friends in all of our lives. Xf

https://au.tv.yahoo.com/sunrise/video/watch/29968779/turning-heads-at-the-melbourne-cup/#page1

Stress doesn’t go with this hat

Time has flown in 2015. Since my last blog we survived Broome Cup week, my 2015 collection parade at the Broome Turf Club and more recently, my solo Hats by Felicity New York Fashion Week runway show.

I don’t know where to begin with an update so I’ll start with the the biggest challenge which was the lead up to the NYFW show, and which included the majority of my collection being held by U.S. customs; only to be released the same day that I arrived into the U.S.

This stress along with preparations for leaving work on a month’s annual leave, co-ordinating a show in the Big Apple from the remote Kimberley township of Broome, being filmed for a documentary and wanting to make the ultimate plans for a reunion of friends into NYC, as well as the uncertainty of the hats being released in time for the show, certainly enabled me to fit into the RMW jeans that were previously too small.  However, lets be honest, not a lot of good comes from too much stress. Everything came together, of course, which made me annoyed at myself for getting so stressed. And everything was made all the easier by the trooper group of friends right there by my side.

I am always so grateful for the magnificent groups of friends I have and one of my most favourite pastimes, apart from creating beautiful headwear, is introducing my fabulous friends to my fabulous friends – nothing makes me happier. No matter what age we find ourselves there is always room and reason for new friendships to form; each friendship bringing something wonderful and new into our lives.

Life for me is about happiness and good friends bring wonderful experiences, strong support and lots of bubbles and fun. You can imagine the fun we had with 17 of us travelling from different parts of Australia to reunite in NYC for the Hats by Felicity Show.

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Arrival bubbles in the limo of fun

You can also imagine the wonderful support I had with everything from sourcing models dresses, to organising special dinners and after party venues, bubbles and fun. There was absolutely NO excuse for me to be stressed with everyone pitching in and ensuring no job was left undone and I take this moment to thank all my precious friends, with all my heart.

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Finding the models dresses was made a fun challenge for our first day in NYC. We split into five groups of two and went different directions of Manhattan with the general description of a preferred style of dress to find. We liaised via a Facebook thread which meant finding internet range was part of the game as well. The challenge turned into a competition after one team found the dress – it was then up to us all to source 20 of this particular style in very small sizes, from outlets across Manhattan. The competition was fierce and prizes awarded to all teams; the first four for returning to base with the dress, and the fifth for getting lost and ending up in Brooklyn.

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The Condo dress sourcing teams – ready to go!

With dresses sourced and shoes hired, my great friend Susan, from Benalla Victoria and I headed to the models fittings, for which we didn’t realise was also a models casting. This task I was not ready for. Models were asleep in the hallway leading to the penthouse suite and it wasn’t till I was stepping over them that I realised they were all there to be cast for my show. Such a different experience to last year, when only seven turned up for the fittings, here I was stepping over more than 30 hopefuls lining the hallways and it was my choice to whom would stay.

This was so difficult. My instant thought was I wanted to race home and make more hats so that everyone could be involved. I really depended on Susan, as those who know me know I want everyone to be happy. It was like drafting cattle. On instruction, each girl strut her stuff towards me, with hopeful eyes staring right at me. Some girls were absolute stand outs for the show but the majority seemed to melt into one as I leaned back to Susan, behind me, for her reassuring call.

After what seemed an eternity, we had the required 20 models chosen for the show. They were fitted for the dresses (of course all wanting to wear the size two) and fitted for the shoes. We took a photo of each and our casting ordeal was done. Susan and I spent hours the next day, matching models to headpiece by photo and in the end, we were happy with our work.

With the collection now finally arrived and the few minor repairs carried out, the models chosen, dressed and allocated headpieces, I was now ready for the Hats by Felicity NYFW solo show. And with a few days till show time, I thought I’d explore the sights of New York City. That was, until the condo that we had rented had the power cut off by the NYC power company because the owner hadn’t paid his electricity bill! Yes, the seven floor very expensive condo we had rented with lift that was oh so exciting before we arrived, turned a little sour when there was no power. The heat soon set in and the stairs became an ordeal. When night hit and we still had no joy by light, it was time to go shopping for candles to light the way up and down to our rooms. Even our celebratory bubbles were no longer chilled, nor was anyone in the mood. After two days of pleading phone calls, we were assured the bill would be paid and the power reinstalled but when we all realised this was not going to happen anytime soon, they agreed to send over a generator with a maintenance guy who had no idea how to even start it. Thankfully, these were all competent Aussie country women, and the maintenance guy happily stepped aside while Liz and Helen got the generator set up and going.

After a year of preparations, on the morning of my NYFW show I woke in a pool of sweat after but a few hours sleep, unable to drift off from the the sound of sirens and car horns all night in my bid for some air by leaving the windows open. With the sweet smell of generator fuel through the house, I felt weirdly calm as I headed downstairs to a less than impressed group of women in the kitchen surrounded by extension leads, to which I excitedly perhaps over exhaustedly screamed “OMG It’s Fashion Week!”

With the team of hairdressers and makeup artists due to arrive in the next hours, timing was the essence and also the unknown for the reinstallation of power. We were a dishevelled bunch but the positive vibe prevailed and at the eleventh hour, as the hair dryers were parking downstairs, we had power and we were back on the NYFW track!

The elevator never did work again, nor did the air conditioners and the Chinese torture caused by the smoke detectors that beeped every 20 seconds has possibly ruined us all for life – but we still managed to see the bigger picture  and the adventure was simply made all the more by this ripper group of girls.

Karen from Liveringa Station and Susan put their hands up to help me backstage on the day.  Karen coordinated the models into their dresses and shoes whilst Susan and I struggled to recognise the models that we had assigned to wear each piece. They looked completely different to the the photos we had taken on the fittings day – all we could do was laugh, because by this stage, nothing was going to cause us stress.

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I was so proud with the final checks before the models graced the runway. P1020094

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P1020080 This year I was determined to remember my runway bow.I was not going to let stress take over and black the bow out. This year I wanted to enjoy the moment and consume the pride, and when those models hit that runway and the fully subscribed crowd of the Prince George Art Gallery applauded I couldn’t have been a happier girl.

I revelled in every moment of my solo Hats by Felicity show. I was so proud to put my collection forward and proud to represent Australia and the art of Millinery on the world stage. I was proud of my friends who owned that VIP row, some with tears in their eyes, all with big, happy smiles.

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The challenges that presented in the lead up to my runway show ensured there was no room for stress on the day and although from backstage I don’t get to see the show, I have since seen footage and photos and reminisced with my friends, so I have a good idea of what my guests got to enjoy.

For this amazing feeling I want to thank everyone who got me to the NYFW runway, both for this year and for last; my sponsors, my family and my fabulous friends.

Keep an eye out for the MADHATTAN documentary that covered the lead up as well as the Hats by Felicity NYFW show.

In the meantime, here’s some snippets taken by talented NYC photographer Donatella Braghieri
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Thanks for your ongoing support and I wish everyone less stress and more laughter!

x flic

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.

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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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