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.
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.
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.
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.
I was so proud with the final checks before the models graced the runway.
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.
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
Thanks for your ongoing support and I wish everyone less stress and more laughter!