Fashion News

From Broome to New York Fashion Week

For 20 years, Felicity has made plain hats into something a little bit fancy for her friends in outback Australia. This year, her part-time hobby is taking her from Broome to the catwalks of New York City.

Felicity Brown
Felicity, or Flic as her friends know her, has a giggling effervescent energy. She talks fast, with a wide grin punctuating most of her sentences.
"When you live remotely, you always go the races, but you always work up until the last minute," she explains on a brief break from work.
"My girlfriends never have time to organise their outfits, so I'd help with their hats – adding a feather, tweaking it with some bibs and bobs – and voila! They'd be ready for the social event of the year!"
Felicity Brown is a born and bred country chick. She grew up on a sheep farm in Mudgee, a town in central west NSW, and while she gave city-living a crack as a young adult, the call of the country proved too strong.
"I spent time in far-western NSW before heading north to the outback, which is where I started fiddling with hats, before heading to Broome," she says. "I’m city but I’m country … I’m happy sitting underneath a tree eating ribs, but I’ve also met the Queen!"
After moving back to the relative cosmopolitan of Broome, Flic thought her hat-making days were behind her, but her friends in the bush kept sending her projects.
"I realised there was still a need for millinery in the bush, so I began travelling between stations for little fashion shows, while I wasn’t working on my day job.
"I started consuming books about hat-making, and taught myself all the basic techniques."
Felicity’s creations are colourful and unique, reminiscent of a Broome sunset or a tropical flower exploding in a vivid rainbow.
"I get inspiration wherever I go – there is so much to look at in the West – it’s easy to think of new designs," she says.
Last year, Felicity booked a long overseas holiday after enduring two rapid operations to remove a large melanoma from her right bicep.
"I had a skin check as part of a New Year checklist, and really didn’t think about it," she says. "I certainly didn’t have any symptoms of skin cancer – but the next minute I was having a rather painful operation to have it removed. I wanted to reward myself with a holiday – so booked a month in the US."
As part of her trip, Flic travelled to New York City, which was in the throes of Fashion Week.
"I was desperate to get a ticket, and through pure circumstance, scored one off the hotel concierge to two different shows," she says.
"It was the most amazing event – lights, music, the models – I just kept pinching myself that my dream was coming true!"
Flic was blogging about her experience at the show later when the unthinkable happened: a fashion week organiser contacted her and asked her to step onto the runway herself in 2014.
"I sent the email onto three friends and my mum, asking them to verify that it was real," she says. "And they replied, 'It’s so on sister!' "
From now until September 7, Felicity will be spending every spare minute creating hats and raising money to get to the Big Apple.
"It's unbelievably incredible and awesome," she says. "It’s crazy to think that just a year ago I was begging for a ticket to Fashion Week and now I’ll be taking part!"
Tickets for a fundraiser to help Felicity get to NYC are available here. To check out Felicity’s millinery, visit her website.

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