Hats off to Dale Olsson!



Brisbane's Carolyn Donovan in a stunning HAT BOX headpiece - Copy - Copy

Photo credit: Carolyn Donovan wearing a statement headpiece from The Hat Box

Preparing for the winter racing is underway and I couldn’t think of a better person to guide me through the fashion do’s and fashion don’ts of the season, then the queen of race wear, millinery expert and savvy business owner of The Hat Box, Dale Olsson. Hosting a special high fashion event celebrating winter race wear, Dale will showcase a selection of millinery masterpieces at the upcoming The Hat Box High Tea, held at the Emporium Hotel. When it comes to the winter race wear trends, Dale is not about to keep it under her hat. Instead, she gives TBS readers an insider guide to dressing for the races. Ladies, hold onto your hats!


Dale Olsson, owner of The Hat Box, certainly knows how to accessorise. She is an absolute vision in deep purple. 

Q: Known as a millinery bowerbird of exquisite hats and headpieces, TBS readers would like to know where this fascination of collecting millinery began?

Dale: My father was a racing man who started taking me to the track (Eagle Farm Racecourse) with him when I was 14 years old. Naturally my mother always made sure I wore a hat. As racing and millinery have always existed hand-in-hand, my fascination with all types of hats started early in life. In my twenties I started entering Fashions in the Field and over the years I have won many fabulous prizes including overseas trips and jewellery. Fashion is my passion so ten years ago I made it my business, giving up teaching to buy my milliner’s boutique in the Brisbane Arcade. As I’m not a milliner myself, I have sourced hats from some of the best milliners in Australia who all create exclusive original headwear for me. I love what I do and assisting a client choose something beautiful to match her outfit gives me great pleasure.


Photo credit: A sneak peek from The Hat Box winter collection

Q: With your wealth of experience in race wear millinery; tell us what makes a memorable Races outfit?

Dale: As I now judge Fashions on the Field throughout Queensland, I am always on the lookout for a memorable race day outfit, something that will make the wearer stand out from all of the other entrants. It has to be currently on trend, well co-ordinated and appropriate for the season. With the Winter Racing Carnival approaching, I would like to see a court shoe or ankle boot, hosiery, covered arms and shoulders, little leather gloves topped with a felt or feather headpiece. Many women make the mistake of over accessorising, for example wearing an elaborate hat with a very busy dress, or too much jewellery. However, one small quirky piece will always catch my eye, be it a little fur wrap or a pretty vintage handbag.

Q: In your expert opinion, how should the ultimate fashionista style a statement headpiece?

Dale: A statement headpiece should be worn simply so as not to lessen its impact. Team it with a suit or dress in a block colour which will either match or contrast well with the hat. Keep the interest above the neck by styling the hair pulled back from the face and worn in a loose knot or bun at the back or side of the head if the hair is long. Keep earrings small, perhaps pearl studs or gold hoops. Conversely, if wearing an elaborate ensemble, keep the hat simple, a pillbox or beret shape, for example.

Q: Hats or fascinators? Lace or feathers? Classic monochrome or bold colour blocking? What is the current trend in headwear for this winter race season?

Dale: The current trend in headwear this racing season os small hats: cloches, berets, fedoras in felt or leather trimmed with lace, beading, feathers with or without veiling. The 1920s Gatsby look is still popular with small hats heavily embellished. Young racegoers still prefer fascinators as they don’t have to suffer the dreaded “hat hair” during the evening but they are larger and more elegant than in previous seasons. Wide-brimmed hats are starting to make a comeback and look ultra glamorous in black velvet with minimal trim, allowing the shape itself to shine. The colour for Winter 2014 is red – all shades from pillar-box to crimson to brick. Other popular shades are cobalt blue, turquoise and orchid. Black for Winter is always a winner and looks most sophisticated teamed with ivory. There is no hard and fast rule re colour. I’ve always liked my hat to co-ordinate with my outfit but colour blocking can look stunning, for example, hot pink with orange or purple with lime. My only suggestion is to never wear more than three colours in your outfit or you’ll attract attention for all of the wrong reasons.

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Photo credit: Perfectly pink at The Hat Box this season

Q: In 5 words, describe what can be expected from The Hat Box High Tea event?

Dale: What can be expected from The Hat Box High Tea event? Colour, glamour, sophistication and fun!

For booking enquiries and information surrounding The Hat Box High Tea event, phone the Emporium Hotel on 3253 6999 or email info@emporiumhotels.com.au. In the mean time, make sure you visit The Hat Box and like the Facebook page to stay up to date with the race wear season. See you there fashionistas!

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Photo credit: High Tea at the Emporium Hotel

Designer Profile: Annette Cannock


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Australia houses some of the most talented fashion designers there are to date, with no exception being the lady behind the beautiful Wish label, Annette Cannock. When I found out I would interviewing the lovely Annette about her new A/W collection, I fangirled…hard! With each collection, Annette sews a story of uniqueness, capturing the vibrant, bold personality and femininity of the Wish brand. In this interview, Annette delivers the insider details of her life as a designer, her Australian upbringing, and what Wish will bring to the A/W season.

Q: How has the Sydney scene shaped your own design aesthetic?

Annette: The Sydney fashion scene definitely has its own vibrant flavor that influences much of what I design. Not so much in terms of other designers, but more in the real girls I see on the streets of Surry Hills or Paddington – sometimes you can see the most effortless style on a lazy Sunday afternoon! Sydney itself is also such an inspiration – such a gorgeously colourful city!

Q: What’s one thing about the life of a fashion designer people may not expect to know? 

Annette: Some people expect a fashion designer to be dressed head to toe in their own designs, but more often than not you’ll find me wearing pieces I’ve picked up from all over the world! A key part of designing is always being open to new trends…plus shopping is one of my favourite hobbies!

Q: Is there a particular designer, either domestic or international that inspires you?

Annette: I’m probably more inspired by designers I see at local markets than I am by couture designers – after all, this is how I began my career! I also like to keep up to date on young emerging Australian designers – there are some amazing young designers coming through the Melbourne Fashion Festival graduate showcase this year, like Lillian Chan and Edwina Sinclair.

Q: It’s believed a picture paints a thousand words; can you describe the story behind the new Autumn/Winter campaign?

Annette: This season is a story of urban life – of beauty coming out of the chaotic mess of the city. It’s a story of the Wish girl standing out from the crowd, and celebrates individual style…but it’s also a story of friendship, two girls finding a connection in effortless style!

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Q: What Wish trends can we expect to see from this Autum/Winter seasonal collection?

Annette: Prints are a huge focus this season – winter doesn’t have to be about boring basics! Think galactic and futuristic, abstract and geometric. Cut outs are making a comeback, but not in the way you’re used tp – necklines and sleeves feature cute peekaboo sections and lace and mesh paneling. Leather and monochrome will continue on as a strong trend from last season – they’re fast becoming a staple look!

Q: The campaign introduces the natural beauty of both Sarah Stephens and Ariel Urlich. What initially drew you to these girls and how do they capture the spirit of the Wish brand?

Annette: Sarah Stephens is actually a Wish girl from way back – she shot her first campaign for us shortly after she won Girlfriend’s model search in 2006. I was initially drawn to her strong and beautiful face (and those eyebrows! Wow!).

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Ariel is on her way to having the same kind of amazing career that Sarah has had – stunning, and a joy to work with! I think they show a strength and spark that is important in a Wish girl.


Q: Print clash, monochromatic, multi texture- what’s your favourite winter trend?

Annette: I’m loving the mix of textures that winter brings – so fun to layer! This collection has some amazing lace, leather, and fur that all work really well together.

Q: How does the Wish brand capture your own personal style? Is there a particular piece from the Autum/Winter collection that speaks to you?

Annette: Wish reflects my personal style it its attention to detail. There’s always a special detail to every garment that makes it unique – a button here, and embellishment there, it really makes all the difference and adds life to the garment. I always pay close attention to every element of my outfit, and I don’t feel polished without a few accessories! I have been living in the Beam Pants these last few weeks – amazing print, easy to take from day to night, and so comfortable!

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Ariel (left) wearing Annette’s staple, the incredible Beam Pants

Q: In 5 words, describe the “Wish” girl. How will she thrive in this new collection?

Annette: Fun, adventurous, effortlessly stylish, inspiring. I think this season really gives winter a new allure – the fun doesn’t have to end when summer is over! The Wish girl will still charm through the colder months by gracefully mixing edgy trends with classic chic.


Thank you Annette for such a captivating read, I cannot wait to get my hands on the newest collection! To see the entire collection and A/W campaign visit the Wish website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @wishxoxo. Wishing you all a fabulous A/W season!

Sensation Sass & Bide



Photo credit: Alexia Sinclair

Sarah-Jane Clarke and Heidi Middleton; otherwise known as the leading ladies of Australian fashion empire, Sass & Bide, are set to reclaim their throne at the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Week of 2013.

The international success of the label recognizes the dynamic duo, a former accountant and advertising art director as innovators of the Australian fashion landscape; paving the path, one high-end piece at a time.

Initially operating as a small boutique in the London markets by selling customized, vintage jeans to trendy locals, Sass & Bide eventually expanded and became known for their signature denim collection in the late 90’s.  A decade later and the noughties bring Sass & Bide to the fashion forefront- the runways of Australia, New York and London fashion week. With 18 boutiques located in 20 countries and a combined net worth of $36 million, their partnership will only continue to thrive and conquer the fashion industry.

Just as a paparazzo can distinguish a celebrity, a true fashionista can easily spot a Sass & Bide piece, based on its distinctive nature and authenticity. Endorsed by the Hollywood in crowd of A-grade celebrity IT girls, including Whitney Port, Olivia Palermo, Kate Bosworth and Elle Macpherson, Sass & Bide have even designed one off pieces for Sex and the City, worn by the infamous Ms. Carrie Bradshaw herself. Always dressed impeccably in their decadent pieces, one can only assume that the former high school BFFs exerted the same enviable style in school. A raw vision springs to mind of the two style queens influencing and dictating the trends of the schoolyard, in a way that is perhaps similar to the earlier seasons of gossip girl…without the hierarchy of course!

This year, a showcase runway spectacular will dazzle attending fashionistas, featuring their most iconic pieces from the A/W13 collection. With embellishment, multi-textures, intricate prints and highly structured pieces being a prominent theme this season, the collection retells the central Sass & Bide story, “a dedication to the strong, the obscure and the beautiful”.


Photo credit: David Goudie