Tag Archives: feathers

Sandfire Ash


Every Hats by Felicity creation has a story – usually involving people and places, and almost always about feathers.
In the mid 1990’s when I was working as a jillaroo on Mandora cattle station south of Broome, I was introduced to the Sandfire Roadhouse. Many of you will know Sandfire as a roadhouse where you fuelled your car, grabbed a bite to eat and continued along the great northern highway, but for us in 1996, Sandfire road house was our local drinking hole. With no towns for hundreds of kilometres north and south, for us Sandfire was more than just a fuel stop and a place to grab a pie, it was our pub.
Understandably, I was devastated when in 2007 Sandfire Roadhouse as we knew it suffered an electrical fire and burned to the ground. The roadhouse reopened with a transportable within 48 hours of the blaze and in April 2010 the roadhouse that we know today, opened, but without the bar that will now remain part of history.
If you’ve ever been to Sandfire, either then or now you would have met the friendly peacocks that roam the site and in particular the rare white peacock. Owner Ken Norton has known me since those early Mandora station days and always been a supporter of my millinery journey, and each February, when the peacocks malt their feathers, Ken collects them for me to use in my millinery creations.
It was a given that when I was chosen to showcase on the runway of New York Fashion Week that I would use these magnificent peacock feathers in my collections.
In 2015, I showcased my Spring Summer 2016 collection on the runway of my solo show with my finale’ piece honouring the white feathers of Sandfire and acknowledging the fire, with my creation aptly named “Sandfire Ash”.

No sooner had she landed from the runway of New York Fashion Week, Sandfire Ash then appeared on the Seven Network Sunrise breakfast show program, the eve before Melbourne Cup Day, 2015.



When I returned home to Broome from New York and Sydney I had a visit from Ken Norton, who wanted to purchase Sandfire Ash for his partner Dorothy. I was ecstatic. I always love to know where my creations end up and to know Sandfire Ash would be down the highway from Broome made my heart sing. Given the creation’s size was somewhat a feature, Ken also put in an order for a Mini Ash for Dorothy, that she could wear to the races.

Dorothy not only donned Mini Ash for the Broome Cup 2019 but she also wore Mini Ash to her Daughters wedding, as Mother of the bride in Ireland. 

Mother of the bride, Dorothy and Ken, Ireland 2019

Sandfire Ash

Mini Ash

Ken always said he wanted to display Sandfire Ash with the story of her journey from Sandfire Roadhouse to the runway of New York Fashion Week and true to his word, here she is.

Next time you’re driving the Great Northern Highway and pull into Sandfire Roadhouse, make sure you say Hi to Sandfire Ash (and Ken and Dorothy). 

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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.

Blog March 2016 feathers Image

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!

Ends