Heading to the Country Town of 'Two Crows', 'Wagga Wagga', a) I was not expecting the heat and b) I had no idea I would forge friendships and strong relationships with people that I will treasure. Having a 3 and 5 year old the idea of leaving them and having to 'skype' every night just about killed me but at least I had the opportunity to stay in contact with my loved ones while I played. Played we did, at the airport we had all made strong bonds and connections and I had previously had discussions with the fabulous Phillip Rhodes, but had the pleasure of his company on the flight which gave us opportunity to get to know each other on a more personal level.

Phillip Rhodes work is second to none and his brilliance is obvious when giving his talk on working in 'The Melbourne Theatre Company' and making hats for Jeoffrey Rush for the show, 'The importance of being earnest'. Phillip was not only responsible for the hats but also the accessories including bags and parasols. Jeoffrey did insist that he was a not a 'Man in Drag', we was 'Oscar Wilde' with wafts of perfume coming from the stars dressing room. To get a peak into the world of theatrical 'Millinery', was a real treat. We all loved it Phillip and we were all enthralled.

Just as special was the friendship with Rebecca Share Milliner, we always had a fondness for each other but never really had the opportunity to have a giggle and share some jokes. Over the time I shared with Rebecca we mused over being mums, with her creative genius of such a young age and the willingness to let others know her inner most tricks of the trade. Rebecca says this is a way of keeping her on top of her game and then she has to come up with new innovations all the time to keep her work fresh. We are definitely a fan and every year Rebecca's collections are distinctive of a year of her work. Looking forward to this year. X

I must not forget Serena Lindeman who ended up being my roomy and we had a ball, trying on hats and talking hats, but more having an understanding of who each other were. I of course have been friends with Serena for some time but when you occupy the same place you begin to share little pieces of yourself that you do with no one else. This has brought me so close to Serena and we have shared many different parts of our lives, the good and the bad and a pure appreciation of each other.

Many wonder what my motives are with the 'Millinery' love or habit you may ask, but it did start very early. Most think I have just infiltrated to have some sort of strange fame. Most do not even know what a 'Milliner' does and when I tell people they think it is about as exciting as being a librarian.

I think the first day of the trade show was apparent when I was saying I am just doing a few classes to know hats better and to understand construction and technique to better report and judge 'Millinery', but the hoarding has started, and I think every person who turns to 'Millinery' or anything with haberdashery with know my problem or addiction.

The one thing that has shown, is that I am well the same in personality, but when I am not on course, I dress in very normal clothes and usually a cap or regular sun hat. Allot of people did not recognise me on the first day of the trade show and I was able to get some sneaky pictures.

It was such a pleasure and honour being the 'International Millinery Forum Ambassador', which I had interviews via radio almost everyday. I am very lucky that I have no nerves. I do not get nervous and just talk, and talk, and talk talk talk. In the noughties (2000s), I was constantly doing radio interviews, so it all seemed harmless, but it was wonderful to share moments with Rose Organ and Margaret that don't get the chance often to talk on Radio. It was very special and we have all grown during the course of a week.

I loved talking to all the delegates and everyone had such different stories. Being the Ambassador, everyone expected me to fly in and out and leave it at that but this gave me the opportunity to sit and chat and get to know others. From major cities around Australia, Rural country towns, and then able to meet and greet International Tutors and Delegates. This was a great honour.

Not one person was more special than another, all were just as lovely and welcoming as the next. There was a definite feel of many coming to learn together and even the tutors learning from the students. There was no competitiveness and no harsh words out of anyone’s mouth that I heard. Everyone wanted to have fun and learn.

I think one of the most important things about the International Millinery Forum in the Riverina is we are learning skill that will no longer be taught. The secrets that many Milliners hold close to their hearts are revealed and allow a new generation to gain experience with new materials and learn new techniques and even innovate their own ideas with the mastery of their tutorials.

Millinery is becoming a very popular craft and there are many 'hobby milliners', I think it is important to understand what the Art of Millinery is, the design and time and effort into masterpieces. When I talk to Jane Stoddart starting out as a wholesale Milliner, you are engaged into a different time and understand Jane and many others in this industry are 'MILLINERS', I myself dabble in being crafty when I have enough time on my hands apart from my children although for many this is an occupation that puts food on the table.

This is where we have to be mindful that many students have been doing a four year course to understand Millinery at great expense and many at the International Millinery Forum learning new skills, mediums and sharing techniques. Not every one knows everything about Millinery, but I have learnt from the tutors and delegates that sharing is caring.

 

I cannot talk highly enough of all the tutors, delegates and the running by the Riverina Millinery Association. I want to learn more and more, at great cost to me, but great profit to others. (Trade Show Exhibitors) If we are all mindful of the circle we are in there is enough for all. Let us embrace the happiness we all had together and swimming in the pool with each other of an evening. It is a blessing and may we remind ourselves that we only compete with our own egos. x

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