Updated: Dec 15, 2020
In Australia, a hat is a vital item of clothing. Worn all year round, hats are essential kit for protection from the sun’s rays. So wearing a hat is an expectation for everyone as they step outside. Individuals ‘don’ a hat to keep themselves safe.
On this continent, the glamour of Spring and Autumn Carnival offer opportunities for designers to really push the boundaries of their imaginations. Roll this out, racing and formal gatherings offer clear expectations for head coverings. Hats are worn by everyone. Each hat forms a vital part of an outfit. The aim is to create a silhouette that turns heads. A hat can take the wearer to the next level.
Rebecca Share grew up in this hat environment. Her love of hats was clear from a young age. When she turned 16 years she started to put her ideas into real creations. Her work was noticed. Heads turned. She began to win prizes which moved her career forward.
Her first hats were made in haste as she reached for the look she was trying to achieve. As a fashion design student she had to improvise. Visiting a second hand shop and covering an old hat with a fine wool fabric was her first attempt at reaching her goal. Her ideas were clear, but her reflections of those first attempts make her wince.
More training brought her headwear to a new level with hat creations that she was proud to sell. She was successful but needed to take her business further. Her Uncle suggested she asked for help from a lady, Lillian Frank, a Melbourne socialite she had met at the Melbourne Cup. This was a difficult step for a shy young lady like Rebecca at a mere 21 years of age, full of self doubt. After an awkward introduction, her mentor was happy to help her. She was invited to special events and supported at every level.
Arriving at the grand gates for parties in her tiny little car was daunting. She had to breathe and take little steps towards the ‘big picture’ she had for herself and her business. Little by little her strategy worked.
Her confidences build with a customer-base that snowballed. She would create a new collection for Spring Carnival and continued to reach the highest level, with awards for her headwear. She used her initiative to make new shapes used butter dishes and crafted clay to use for hat blocks. Gradually she knew what shapes she wanted and worked with Hat Blocks Australia to make exclusive shapes for her. Only as more customers wanted to buy Rebecca’s designs did the block maker approach Rebecca to open a special line of blocks for him to make and sell. These blocks are in the, ‘Rebecca Share Block Collection’ can be purchased.
Rebecca makes hats for her regular customers and finds this builds up as racing season gets underway to a manic level that is hard to manage. Every piece has to be made for the same high level event. She matches colours and creates hats that move in magnificent ways. Her customers are often repeat buyers as they are after unique headwear that is only offered by Rebecca.
In her latest collection, she described her inspiration as, ‘moving with the flow’. It is always nearer to a deadline than she would choose, but an idea gets into her head and every part of the headpiece comes together very fast. Each part is a three dimensional puzzle that just fits. This may require her to work for long spells of time. The work comes together.
Looking at ‘Grace’ the name of a popular piece in her 2019 Collection, she explains the detail. A blocked piece covered in a stretchy fabric. This black headpiece had dramatically angled Cyperus sprays that flow from the band. Detailed and exquisite, this offers an elegant silhouette for the wearer.
Personal creativity has taken her all over the world. An invitation to the Royal Enclosure at Royal Ascot was a memorable occasion. A prize for her outstanding work, she was honoured to take part in this regal experience.
Her eldest son predicted that she would win the MYER Fashions on the Field Millinery Award in 2018. His energy and enthusiasm add to Rebecca’s goals. He was absolutely accurate as she came home with the prize.
Sustainability is more difficult in millinery activities. As a classical style she offers customers opportunities with their headwear. Her pieces are worn over and over again. She explained that a bride will wear a crafted headpiece for her wedding, take it out for a trip to the races and wear it to a formal party too. They remain in their Personal Collection for repeat wears. She has reduced her use of feathers and loves using vintage recycled materials.
When asked, ‘What makes a hat magic?’ Her intuitive style means she just knows. She can critic a hat quickly, looking at minimal detail, balance, materials and line. She judges hat competitions all over Australia. Every hat is different. Her expert eye can ‘deconstruct’ a hat to its core. The clarity of shape, fabric angle, how it flows all add to the final piece. Precision is a key feature and has the essence within a hat.
Training had become a natural part of her work as she set up ‘Hat Atelier’. This part of her work has grown with lockdown. The global demand for her skills has been overwhelming. She offers online video courses and Virtual classes on zoom. These experiences are scheduled. Participants buy the materials and equipment (from Rebecca if they are in Australia) or source with Rebecca’s support.
She offers a growing library of free‘Millinery Tips & Tricks’to engage her audience. Her work is up-skilling milliners all over the world. Time zones are a challenge but her students will get up at 2am to joint her classes ‘down under’. More and more training is planned; her focus has changed and is catering to the demand. She is relishing her work and planning for the future. Taking her work to new audiences, she knows no boundaries.