THE INTERVIEW: ANNA MOTT of RACING FASHION AUSTRALIA
Anna Mott (Racing Fashion Australia) is co-curating The 21st Century Hat Exhibition at East India House (27th – 30th March 2015). To offer some insight into the lady behind Racing Fashion Australia, Anna managed to find time in her busy schedule to answer Monique’s questions…
ML. Who is Anna Mott? What do you do everyday?
AM. I am a very happily married mother of two, who has an amazing and tolerant husband. Having dyslexia I have always relied on the artistic side of my brain; numbers and equations make no sense to me at all! My mother is a painter and my father a world champion powerboat driver. My number 1 job in life is making sure my family is happy and secure and then I tend to my own obsessions; being hats, fashion, and empowering all women, different ages, sizes and shapes to embrace fashion and reflect their personalities in the way they dress.
ML. We rarely see you without a beautiful hat on; could you tell us about your love towards hats and millinery?
AM. My obsession with hats would have started as a young child when I was barely photographed without some adornment on my head. My mother always had something on my head and my aunts were both in theatre and TV so there were numerous dress ups.
When I was a child I would head to ‘Gatsby’ inspired parties where ladies in their 70s and onwards would have pony rides, carousels and high tea parties at the drop of a hat, at a well to do Melbourne address. Ladies always wore gloves, hats and beautiful couture garments; it was like stepping back in time. I long for those days to come back.
ML. Thank you so much for lending out fabulous pieces from your private hat collection. Could you please tell us stories about them?
AM. As a man often has a ‘man cave’, I have what is called the ‘woman cave’. I have a room, or two, full of hats and vintage hat making materials. I have many favourite pieces, and all have a special place in my heart. They take me to moments in my life when I have worn them or met someone. I have a collection from all over the world and my 1905 Swan Wing Hat is the prize. This is something that is for exhibit only. I also have contemporary pieces; every hat has its own personality. I love fiddling with making hats to understand the craft and how to critique, I can then talk to the public about the craft, the techniques and mediums used and justify why you spend the amount on this art form.
ML. Could you tell us how you met Monique (me), the curator of our exhibition? And what has it been like to be a co-curator for The 21st Century Hat Exhibition?
AM. I had the honour of meeting Monique, co-curator of The 21st Century Hat Exhibition at Royal Ascot two years ago. Her work intrigued me and I had to know more. Most hats I see, I can immediately tell who has made it and know their aesthetic; as well as preserving the art of hat making and millinery it is important to know when you see new talent and bring it forward. I find my role in Australia going to previews of fresh faced milliners and see what they are bringing forward. There is so much to learn and the craft is always innovating, and so am I. Monique asked for recommendations of Australian milliners and I had so many, but I think the mix from Australia shows such different ingenuity and compliments this exhibition. Monique and I have been musing over hats for the past month or so and seeing how we can showcase a world of millinery.
ML. Could you please tell us a bit about racing fashion styles and millinery designs in Australia in the 21st Century?
AM. Australian millinery is fiercely competitive as there is a lot of money at stake with millinery awards and the largest outdoor fashion event in the world – ‘Myer, Fashions on the Field’ – at Flemington during Spring Racing Carnival. Thousands of ladies and now gentlemen enter this competition to win over $400,000AUD worth of prizes, including cars. It is a highly sought event and when I started Racing Fashion, www.racingfashion.com.au it used to be a little bit of a back burner to the races, but the ladies in Australia who win become highly paid celebrities and models, milliners in Australia are constantly pushing themselves to innovate the most amazing piece to be a part of this fashion sport.
ML. Anything you would like to say to hat lovers and milliners in London?
AM. To the hat lovers and milliners in London, I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ for your welcoming and greeting to me. The United Kingdom and London are close to my heart and the talent and perfection of hat making and millinery in this country is second to none. I have had the honour of meeting so many beautiful people through loving hats and understanding their lives and stories. Millinery is like an unstoppable hobby, but milliners and hat makers are a dying breed. The hat may be the last couture piece that we wear, as most items we purchase are all made internationally. It is important to understand that a hat cannot be simply manufactured and given to the masses, hats scream individuality, elegance, fashion forward and, I could go on, but please never stop wearing hats, I am so truly grateful for this invitation.