Catching Up With Heather McDowall

Heather McDowall has been creating stunning head pieces that have been styled with some of our most coveted designs for almost a decade.

We caught up with Heather to learn more about a day in the life at Heather McDowall.

 
Q: You’ve come a long way since your early days of Fashions On The Field in Hobart. What is your favourite memory of overcoming the challenges you faced being so far away from the things people on the mainland would have taken for granted 8 years ago?
Ooooh where do I even start. Ha ha. You guys have no idea how good you have it! last week I went to a Millinery class with Milliner Jane Stoddart. I asked her to teach me how to make a couture style over sized fedora hat. We worked out the first class I ever attended with her was 10 years ago. I used to fly to Sydney to attend millinery workshops to learn millinery as there was nothing like that in Tasmania. I remember I used to sit in class thinking stop talking everyone and wasting precious time, no one else in this class has forked out $400 in flights just to be here! Now it is just a 40 minute drive!
There are also no Millinery Supply shops In Tasmania, so I used to spend my rent money on Flights to get to Melbourne and go shopping there. I could have bought online, but I need to touch and feel materials before I buy.
Opportunities in the Fashion Industry look very different to what they do here in Sydney. There were no Internships with Fashion labels. There were no fashion labels full stop. When I was at Fashion School our “work experience” was visiting a wet suit factory, and my first “fashion” job was a machinist sewing baby shoes.
The way that I see it, growing up  in Tasmania a place that lacked any fashion related opportunities forced me to create my own. You can either accept that’s the way it is. Or you can stop being lazy and do something about it. I wouldn’t change it! Having to work twice as hard as anyone else just to get to the start line  I appreciate very single opportunity that comes my way.
 
Q: What are some of your favourite trends for Fashions On The Field past and present?
My taste has really changed over the years. When I first started, there was a thing called a hatinator. It was all the rage. A cross between a hat and a fascinator. The bigger the better. That was the style that I made that would be winning all the Fashions on the Field competitions.
You would need to bend down as you were walking through the door way or you’d get stuck! Now, I still love the drama of oversized pieces. But with a more classic feel to it. I am a sucker for a veil. I love the whole “off to my sugar daddy's funeral” look. Ha ha.
My favourite trend is cohesion. And yes I just made that up. Fashions on the Field is a funny little world. Sometimes I think people think having the loudest, hat, dress, bag, shoes, earrings, socks, nail polish, undies, bra  automatically makes your outfit amazing. It doesn’t. It needs to be cohesive. Only one statement piece people.. Otherwise it is too much for the eyeballs. Everything is screaming for attention.
An outfit that works in perfect harmony, complementing each other is my fave trend. All about cohesion.
 
Q: Do you have a favourite season to style for? (And if so why)
I love Spring. There are too many rules for Autumn Racing.  Keeping in mind, these “rules” apply to entrants of Fashions on the Field and part of the judging criteria. They certainly don’t have fashion police at the gates of Randwick refusing entry to anyone that hasn’t adhered to the rules. (Actually the members areas can be quite strict with dress codes)
I feel for Spring, anything goes. Lots of colour, or colour blocking, black and white (my fave combo) open or closed toe shoes, just depends on the rest of the outfit. You can get away with shorter hems, or an open back.
Traditionally Autumn racing is about longer hems, pant suits, felt hats. Straw hats and Sinamay fascinators are a fashion faux pas., reserved only for Spring Racing.
See why I like Spring more?
 
Q: Tips for styling the Mediterranean Minx for Autumn Racing in 2021
The Mediterranean Minx already has a lot of drama in the ruffle detail and print. Your headwear (if im following my trend guideline of “Cohesion”) needs to be understated.
The dress is the feature piece, so no competing for attention here!
 
With the Mini, traditionally for Autumn, closed toe heels (show off the pins, but cover the toes) The Ella Pom Pom headpiece pairs with this perfectly as it fits the felt guidelines (the pom poms are covered in velvet).
 
The Mediterranean Minx Midi, as there is quite a bit of coverage already I would go open toe heels. A cute felt fedora, or a headpiece with a bit of height to balance out this look.
The Ella Pom Pom headpiece also works well with this dress.
Q: We love your fun fact about which textiles are traditionally worn each season. What are your favourites to work and design with?
I love working with Leather,  Lace + Metal. Traditional materials bore me. Im not the traditional kind of Milliner!
Leather, Lace + Metal are Transeasonal textiles so you can wear to  any race day throughout the year. This is another huge reason why I use these materials. I want my customers to invest in pieces that they can wear more than once. I also keep my designs classic- but with a bit spice! They are not too trend driven, so my  customer can wear numerous times and update her race day look via her choice of dress and other on trend accessories.
 
 
Q: We love your “Get Fired Get Inspired” mindset. What does a day in the life of Heather McDowall look like these days and you have any advice on taking those first steps into creating your dream life?
Ha Ha. My life motto of 5 years ago. Thank you for reminding me of this. It is truly what spurred me on during those hard times! Getting fired for me was a true blessing. Sometimes I feel like I should email my old bosses and say thank you.
I do believe things happen to us in order to steer us back on to the path we were meant to take. It had to be something big to stop me in my tracks! Cue- firing Heather.
My advice to creating your dream life. Stop dreaming about it. Take action. Write that shit down and turn them into goals and break down into actionable steps. If you don’t know how to get to where you want to go, find someone who does, and learn from them.
 
A day in the life of Heather McDowall is every bit as manic as it looks on social media.
Last year my business like many other businesses was hit hard. I actually started another business to assist start up labels with Fashion Production and Manufacturing both here Australia and over seas. Everything that I wished was available to me when I first started mass manufacturing, is what I have created for others.
So my days are filled with Fashion production meetings with designers. Meeting manufactures, sourcing trims + materials, all while working  on my own collection for Spring and Bridal
It is full on, but these are the goals that I wrote down for myself at the start of the year and making sure I practise what I preach and taking action!
 

Heather McDowall pieces seen styled with Talulah 

 

Shop Heather's stunning headwear pieces

https://heathermcdowall.com/

xx
 

Diary > Catching Up With Heather McDowall


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