Tag Archives: Broome Cup Day

I tip my hat

Apparently, very few people were prepared for my runway treat of male models in the NYFW show. iPhones went skidding across the runway as guests fumbled and flurried and tried to re-gain composure – they simply weren’t ready for the eight-pack that presented and opened the show. Even the live stream experienced an interruption.

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The Bondi Bather sequins swimwear too, was a huge hit and with immense pride I can also report, so was my 20 piece collection of millinery and worn art. And as the months go by and another photographer tags me with his own moment captured, I get to relive the feeling of show exhilaration again and again and still to this day.

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My creativity, sweat and tears was showcased to perfection by the models and the somewhat unnerving paparazzi experience afterwards left me with no doubt that I had achieved the goal set before me and perhaps more.

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But in less than 10 minutes it was over. The next designer was on the runway, I was in a tiny dark hall way, hugging my pieces with protective arms, caught against the traffic in the narrow backstage warren and unable to make any movement against the long line of models – my NYFW Spring Summer 2017 showing was done.

For the past three years Ive been privileged to show on the runway of New York, so this year I was better prepared for the ‘lost’ feeling that follows; when the whirlwind that is my existence since the year began comes to an abrupt end. After the chaos, and the celebrations with treasured friends who have travelled the globe for the show, there’s that real risk of losing direction, momentarily at least.
The live stream of my runway show was viewed by 15K people with a reach of over 37K on Facebook alone. I didn’t know what to do with those stats. All of it was so overwhelming, the lead up, the show and afterwards and at times I felt I was in a complete out of self experience.

Combine this with the post-adventure blues as each treasured friend zipped their suitcase to head back home – I needed the next thing to look forward to and fast. So before I headed to the U.S, I planned a little adventure to embark on after New York, something to look forward to and keep those ‘lost’ feelings at bay.

First stop was a trip to the Hamptons with great friend and brilliant Broome based Aussie photographer Kathryn Sprigg. We spent the first day scouting the Hamptons for photoshoot opportunities and the next two days photographing and believe it or not, I was the one wearing my collection. By no means a model; this was understandably a very casual shoot, no hairdressers, no makeup (no shock there), and for most of the time I was still wearing my RM Williams boots but the aim to create visuals for my Hats by Felicity portfolio was achieved. This soon to be completed, visual documentation of my journey and growth of millinery art is being developed primarily for film and television, to promote myself as a milliner looking for a job.

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The portfolio will also promote me to print media, as an available resource to provide millinery and worn art creations for photo shoots, for others promoting their brands. The creation of this visual story has been a great follow on for me to delve into after the show.

With Hamptons shoot done, my next stop was Texas. I love this place and I was not going home without a few days touchdown at least. I had met a great texan couple at the Broome Cup races (as you do) and we had exchanged numbers and I was excited, not only to spend the day with Rusty and Monica but they were also taking me to visit a hat maker – Rusty’s hat maker, who incidentally, was taking the red pindan dirt out of Rusty’s hat! What are the chances of me viewing a cowboy hat getting Kimberley dirt removed from it in Texas!

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Jeff from Biggar Hats is a legend. He not only welcomed me to his Decatur store but I got to tour the back store workshop with insight into Jeff’s own tricks of our treasured hat making trade. Like me, Jeff is passionate about creating individual hats for individual people. He measures the head, creates the wood size mould that he also engraves with the client’s name before creating the perfect hat for each client that walks through his door. I sew in a pearl button to my one-off creations and Jeff embellishes the clients name to the inside of their hat. We love bespoke.

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Rusty, Monica and I spent the majority of our day in Biggar Hats and were then pressed for time for their other Texan must do’s, which is why it’s always a great plan to return! What we did do however, was somehow discover we had but a few degrees of separation in friendships and we were simply meant to meet.
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For the final leg of my adventure, I stopped over in Hawaii for a few days, to break up the long trip from Texas to Broome and to re-energise and prepare for my life. I finished full time salaried work during the year and while show preparations and bespoke creations had kept me busy before I left, I was heading back to a new life of working for myself.

I used the time in Hawaii to do my post show interviews, making sure I was relaxed and comfortable with that magnificent ocean view, as we all know public speaking is not my comfort zone. With interviews done, I had two days to completely chill and find myself; Walks along Waikiki beach in the mornings and evenings and by the pool with book to read during the day – the second day by the pool I brought along my notepad and pen.

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I feel it’s so important to take time out from our lives, whatever they may entail and give time to yourself, to relax out of the space you are in, to energise and have the ability to clearly and sensibly plan where to next. I honour myself with this space every Monday night – commonly known to those close to me as my ‘Flic nite’. It only takes a few hours but I stop and sit. It’s the night I’ll have a foot spa or face mask, I’ll even book a massage – I do not work, and that’s a hard thing to do – especially now that I work for myself as we all know the self employed never really stop. Headspace is so important – our mental health just as important as physical.

My Milliner on the Move business too embraces mental health just as much as it embraces rural, regional and remote Australia. The hats being the ploy, enticing people to stop, even if it’s just for one night and to be surrounded by friends and laughter; to forget about tomorrow’s crazy itinerary just for a moment. The joy of millinery isn’t just about the hat – it’s about what donning a hat does for us; how it makes us feel, change our stance, play a hero, even an alter ego. Hats make us happy.

It took me 40 years to realise I wanted to be an entrepreneur and now that I’ve worked it out, I am passionate. In many ways, my millinery art and passion have delivered me here. And as well as growing my millinery to the next levels I am also excited to embark on my other passion of business and special project development, – making ideas happen. I’ve launched my new Business FMB Projects, to help others bring their ideas to fruition.

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I’ll be very honest when I say I am petrified and scared as I embark on this self employed journey but I’d be pretty peeved’ at myself if I didn’t at least have a go.

I have also launched my Hats by Felicity online store and would love your feedback, particularly on any products that you would like to see me include. http://www.hatsbyfelicity.com.au

I have learnt so much on my journey that on the outside may showcase the hat, but like everyone else, has so many other layers beneath. I feel my hats are only the beginning and they still have so far to grow. I feel the time is now right to take the plunge and go out on my own; to grow not only my millinery and worn art but also my other passions and small businesses.

And I want to share my skills, experience and lessons learned with others who have ideas they want to grow.

So as I tip my hat to another NYFW show I tip my hat to you, my friends and supporters who got me there and have got me here; to following our dreams and to new business ventures and health and happiness in 2017.

I tip my hat to life.

x flic

Oh and for those who keep asking .. I’ve worked it out – my driving words for 2017 are innovation and adventure

Celebrating with my fabulous friends after the NYFW show. Bubbles and sunset on a rooftop in New York.

Celebrating with my fabulous friends after the NYFW show. Bubbles and sunset on our rooftop in New York.

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Sore thumbed Olympian …

I can see the Empire State Building from my Manhattan apartment window – did you know they change the colour of the tower lights every night? Tonight it’s orange and blue. I have to pinch myself that I’m here.

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It’s been a massive run to my third NYFW show and thanks to my friends and some amazing sponsors, and the creative headspace from working for myself (yes … I’ve finished with the Ag Dept.), I am well and truly here, all glue guns blazing, with my Spring Summer 2017 collection of millinery creations, and I’m ready to show to over 300 VIP’s and the fashion world, in but a few short days. To say I’m a tad nervous is absolutely nowhere close to the mark!

The lead up to this years event has been busy. As milliner on the Move I had brilliant trips to Anna Plains Station in the Kimberley and to Yarrie Station and the races of Marble Bar in the Pilbara region. Both of these adventures, however, command their own individual blog space, so you’ll have to stay tuned for these yarns on my return from the shiny red.

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The Broome races too, were a feather above the rest this year with Broome Cup being the most colourful of all Broome trackside events I’ve seen yet. Never have I created so many hats and headpieces in one year and although my fingers are still recovering, I’m already excited to do it again.

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And now I am here, in New York City on the eve of Fashion Week with my Hats by Felicity showing this Sunday, September 11, at 5pm. I keep doing double takes as I see my name and imagine this is how the Olympians must feel – with AUSTRALIA in capitals beneath … i’m sure Olympians have more than sore fingers and thumb, though … and they probably use the stairs, not the lift.

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My runway event will be live streamed through the Hats by Felicity Face book page. I’m showing with Fashion Gallery at the Grand Ballroom of the Manhattan Affinia Hotel 5pm NYC time and believe me, not only are those chandeliers going to shine .. my models are wearing a custom made Bondi Bather special that compliments my collection to perfection and I can’t wait to show you all.

And wait till you see the feathers … my feather collectors have been amazing again this year with feathers coming from all parts of Australia. Without these stunning plumes and while Im at it, without my feather sorter (thanks Ella) I wouldn’t be showcasing half the collection I am about to, so when these hand collected feather creations float upon the runway please feel as proud as I am because without you, they simply wouldn’t exist.

I know I’ve said it twice before, but when this collection presents on the NYFW runway, it’s not just me showcasing, it’s a whole swag of us who are part of the hat and yarn …

I met the models who are going to parade my work yesterday, some of which are return girls from last year. They are a really lovely bunch who looked a tad unsure when I explained the dictionary meaning for Felicity is ‘happiness’ and bliss, and if they feel happy when they are wearing my creations on the runway, then by all means feel free to smile ..

Tonight I have my own big smile with my whole collection around me, I’ve been trying pieces on and assigning them to the models, preening feathers and feeling proud, with the Empire State building shining above me. I can’t wait to show you.

And what do I want to achieve from this NYFW event? Apart from raising awareness of millinery as a wearable art, through my collection entitled “Australia in Bloom” I want to proudly highlight our stunning and truly beautiful rural, regional and remote Australia; and above all, as a small business and passionate milliner, I want to secure a millinery contract in the industry of film – then we can aim for the Oscars after this!

A special shout of thanks to those who have dressed me for the runway, provided me with luscious lashes and fabulous skin, amazing hair and sensational sunglasses; who created spectacular outfits for the models, put together heart pumping music for the runway; for the pearls that are about to walk the runway, who designed my menu of creations for “Australia in Bloom” and millinery materials of stunning best; those who’ve fed me when I was in lock-down creating this collection, who’ve sponsored my name to the wallpaper for the red carpet, models for the runway; for your talented photography (Kathryn Sprigg) and who’ve worked tirelessly by my side making all this happen (thank you Kim St John). You are all tagged with love and thanks. And to my family and my friends, who continue rock my world and make this millinery dream happen … Thank you.

See you on Sunday – I’ll wave from the runway (if i’m conscious).

x flic

PS A heartfelt thanks for this surprise GoFundme site… #fundedbyfriends

https://www.gofundme.com/2mwke97f

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

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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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