Darwin is an isolated place but, when the Darwin Cup Carnival hits, race lovers from Australia wide travel hours to enjoy the warm weather and relaxed atmosphere. It is the perfect location for thongs and singlets but also the place to find trend setting races fashion and the home of some of Australia’s most innovative milliners.
This NT milliner needs no introduction because her stand out pieces are easily recognized on any FOTF (Fashions on the Field) stage. Their structural beauty and simple elegance compliment the wearer and their outfit perfectly every time. We are yet to see a Peacock Millinery piece we don’t like and Belinda Osborne is the creative genius behind them all! We shone the creative spotlight on Belinda and talked about her love of feather work, the trends for the Darwin Cup and her tips for entering FOTF.
Q1. Tell us a little bit about how you got started in Millinery.
I was attracted to millinery from attending the races. Born and bred in Darwin I started making millinery out of necessity more than anything. Choice was limited here in the late 90’s and early 2000’s so I started making my own. That stemmed into pieces for friends and then a request for stock for small boutique. I’ve been making hats for over 10 years now.
Q2. Your pieces are easily recognized in a FOTF line up, how would you describe your millinery and how did you establish this unique style?
My millinery style is modern and elegant with structural elements that show off my feather work. I love working with feathers. In my early millinery years, feathers were an easy and affordable product for me to source and experiment with. I spent a lot of time experimenting with feathers so that I could understand how they worked. I now love pushing their boundaries and thinking of different and innovative ways to use them.
Q3. What are 3 facts about yourself that your customers don’t know?
-I had already been making hats for a little while before I found out my mother made hats for Myer and Miller Andersons in South Australia in the 50’s-60’s. We both thought that was a pretty amazing coincidence.
-I love to travel with my family and show our beautiful world to my 8 year old son. We’ve just recently been to New Zealand and Bali.
-I was the Australian winner of a worldwide art competition held in Japan when I was 8 years old. My winning entry was a painting of a witch on a broom stick in the starry sky.
Q4. You also enter Fashions on the Field, where do you get your inspiration from for your outfits?
I love dressing for the races. I tend to lean towards a “modern traditional” style. I never really follow trends although I often like certain aspects of seasonal trends. This year I’m loving ‘the collar’. Most of my outfits are inspired by a single object like a pair of shoes or a piece of material or even just a colour.
Q5. Do you have any advice for ladies and gents who are entering FOTF for the first time?
Tip1: If you are entering a FOTF event, my number one tip is to embrace it and have fun. It’s cheesy, but the saying “a smile is your best accessory” can ring true here.
Tip2: Millinery is a must. Your hat should complement your outfit and you should be comfortable in what you are wearing.
Tip3: Make sure you have shoes that you can walk in. I say to my clients to practice their walking style. It might seem silly walking up and down the house hallway, but if you can’t walk in them at home, you’re definitely not going to be able to walk in them on the catwalk. No matter how awesome they are, they’re not magic shoes.
Tip4: Go for a polished look. Having too much/too little make up, un-kept hair, even nail polish or lack there of, can go towards points being given or not.
Q6. For first time customers ordering from you what suggestions do you have to make the process straight forward?
Be prepared to wait. It takes time to make hats. There can be a 3-6 week wait on custom orders. Also be prepared for me to suggest something other than what you had in your head to begin with. Sometimes I can see that what a client has in their mind won’t work for the look they are trying to achieve or the budget they have set. This is where a good milliner is key as they should know different styles and be able to consult with you on this.
Q7. We were in awe of your amazing Millinery Award creation that you entered on Oaks Day last year how many hours of work were involved?
It was close to 80 hours of work. I thought that I had left ample time to get the piece done, but underestimated the work involved. I had to pull a 20 hour straight session the day before I was supposed to be on the flight for Melbourne.
Q8. How were you feeling about entering in the lead up to the event? What did you need to do to prepare for it and what was the overall experience like?
The lead up was crazy. I arrived in Melbourne on the red eye and unfortunately the box carrying my entry did not. No one from the airline could tell me where it was and I had only 1 spare day before it was supposed to be paraded at the award. After numerous calls and no confirmation of where the box was, there was only 1 flight out of Darwin that would see me make it to the award. So I just headed to the airport the next night at midnight to hopefully see if someone had put it on that flight. As luck would have it, the oversized baggage handler strode in through the doors with my big hat box in tow.
The day itself went so quickly. The weather on the day was just terrible. But nothing could put a damper on watching my model wearing the piece through each of the heats until it was announce I had won third overall. I got to meet and have a chat about my piece with world famous milliner Stephen Jones, who was one of the judges. It was truly such an amazing experience and emotional time that I got to spend with some great friends.
Q9. What is the process for being part of the Millinery Award on Oaks Day?
The Myer Fashions on the Field Milliner Award on Crown Oaks Day is an invitation only event. You can either be invited by Myer and the Victorian Racing Club or you can send a request to be considered to be invited including a submission of some of your designs. www.flemington.com.au/melbourne-cup-carnival/myer-fashions-on-the-field
Q10. What influenced the design of this piece, how did you come up with such an innovative design and what processes were involved (without giving away any of your clever secrets)?
I get a lot of inspiration from nature. Whilst on holidays a little while ago, I told my son that the foliage of the Cook Pine trees looked like little scaly dragon tails. When thinking of what to make I knew I wanted something that swirled around the models head that could be viewed at any angle and had the look of being alive without being too literal or scary looking. I toss ideas around and came up with the little dragon tail story about the Cook Pines.
The process took a lot of patience. First I made a wire frame. This would be the shape. There are approximately 200 feathers on it. The feathers were given pink coloured tips and then each feather had to be cut and hand shaped in order to be positioned over each other. It was very meticulous work with the position of the feathers having to be carefully thought out to ensure the flow was perfect. A lot of calculating went into the design.
Q11. What are the future plans for Peacock Millinery and yourself as a milliner?
I am looking at expanding the ready to wear collections so that I have stockists of Peacock Millinery locally and interstate.
Q12. What do you think will be the fashion trends to look out for when the Darwin Cup Carnival begins later in the year?
This year the Darwin Turf Club is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the running of the Darwin Cup and 1956 fashion is the trackside style focus of the 2016 Darwin Cup Carnival. I think it will be an exciting Carnival and I dare say we’ll see plenty of racegoers introducing aspects of the 1950’s into their looks this year. I can’t wait to see everyone’s take on the 1950’s trackside fashion call out.