There were probably plenty of great stories lurking amongst the stands at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre yesterday. In the nanosecond that I was there, I hoped I might find at least one. I didn’t expect it to be handed to me on a plate on the FGI discussion panel: milliner Katerina Miaoulis.
Like many Australian milliners whose businesses rely heavily on trade from the racing sector, sales for Miaoulis' four-year old Memsahib brand were decimated by last year’s Equine Flu outbreak in Australia – which rocked the racing industry.
Undeterred by what Miaoulis reports were “thousands and thousands of dollars” in lost domestic sales, she booked a stand at January's Accessories the Show trade show at the Jacob Javits Convention Centre in New York, where Miaoulis promptly picked up 23 international accounts, from the US to Israel, Japan and Dubai.
memsahib hats @ fashion exposed
But it was not just buyers who liked Memsahib's sweet straw cloches and trilbies, many of which incorporate vintage embellishments.
Miaoulis' trade show stand was spotted by the accessories coordinator from US Harpers Bazaar, who took a card. As many do of course at these types of netwworking events.
Six months later, an email arrived from Harpers saying (words to the effect):
“Karl Lagerfeld is shooting Stella Tennant for a December feature called 'Duchess', with Lady Amanda Harlech styling. Do you think you could send some hats?”
The email was dated July 1st and the delivery deadline was July 4.
With the Australian time difference, the email was received in Sydney on July 2nd. When couriers told Miaoulis that they could not ship a delivery to Paris on time, she did the next best thing: grabbed seven hats and hopped on a plane herself.
Miaoulis told frockwriter yesterday:
“I had not had a shower, had not had a chance to prepare anything. I literally pulled my suitcase from under my bed, took my apron off, threw in a couple of pairs of clean knickers. Got there in the nick of time, four hours before the shoot, delivered the stuff myself and just left it there, met everybody very very briefly and then went back to my friend’s house [where she was staying]. I walked straight past her and threw up. I was terribly stressed out”.
“What I couldn’t understand was they had other milliners who are better-known than I am on the international stage and they had access to Stephen Jones and access to Philip Treacy. But for some reason they wanted my look”.
According to Miaoulis, she has had negligible press coverage in Australia - and notably not one mention in any fashion glossy. Miaoulis says she has no budget for PR, however did nevertheless manage to pull A$4,500 together quickly for the Paris trip, which may wind up paying off.
Of course we all know that fashion magazines call in many, many different products for shoots and not everything makes it in.
Miaoulis is crossing her fingers that when the December issue bows some time in November, she’ll see at least one of her hats.