About three weeks ago a friend and I attended a book event at Fuller’s bookshop in Hobart. The blurb about this interesting Tasmanian lady sounded very interesting in the advertisements. About 250 other people agreed with that thought and the event was packed to the gills with people wanting to hear her story.
Alannah spent her childhood in a very rural area of Southern Tasmania. She talked of her childhood which was positively gruesome with mental and substance abuse by her parents. She grew up and left home in her teens to escape parents who really didn’t like children at all but had five of them. Their abuse consisted mainly of severe denigration of everything they aspired to do. Alannah lived in a fantasy world and who wouldn’t in this situation. She began designing clothes and became one of Australia’s leading fashion designers based in Melbourne. She had multiple stores and was very successful, a feat that was never acknowledged by her parents, especially her mother.
She loved dressing up in quite outrageous clothes and her tastes reflected this in her designs. Her designs were trailblazing and instantly recognisable and became very iconic.
After 18 years of partnership with Factory X she released a statement that she was leaving her role as Creative Director and Founder of the Alannah Hill brand. She stated in her talk that her own brand name of Alannah Hill was taken from her and from then forward she could not sell clothes under her own name as it was copyrighted elsewhere. There is obviously quite a bit of bitterness about the whole situation. However the name still exists in the fashion world. If one buys an Alannah Hill design now it has nothing to do with Ms. Hill. She has been unable to get her brand name back under her control.
After eighteen years of partnership with Factory X Alannah released a statement informing her many loyal fans that she was leaving her role as Creative Director/Founder of Alannah Hill. The shock of Alannah’s departure from her own label captured the public and the media’s imagination. Alannah has had no creative input into the Brand Alannah Hill since 2013. Factory X continue to run the chain of stores named after her.
In 2015 she launched a new fashion brand Louise Love online. It was retailed exclusively through the David Jones Department store. In 2016 she closed her online store to recover from a melanoma cancer she was dealing with and decided to write her memoir.
Butterfly On A Pin is the book that has been published and what a ride it is going to be. She details her childhood, her rise in the fashion business. The betrayal she felt of losing her name/identity in her business must certainly be included.
It has been described by the publishers as a “shocking and exhilarating memoir” describing her transformation from a joyless and abused childhood to a dream come true career peak of love, loss and reinvention. Publishers are Hardie Grant, 2018.
I really enjoyed hearing her discuss her life and success. She did a wonderful job of impersonating her mother, using a very different voice from her own. One tale she told was when she opened her brand on Fifth Ave, New York and rang her mother to tell her. Her mother was not impressed and could only reply, “Why aren’t you good enough for First Ave?” The audience had quite a laugh. Alannah was wildly dressed and more actor than detailer of a depressing childhood. I think some may have found her confrontational to a degree and thought, “This woman is wacky.” I loved her and enjoyed all of her stories.
My friend and I did not stay around as the line for the book signing went around the store more than once. I bought the book later in the week and have added it to my TBR pile.
We were hungry and disappeared into a wonderful Thai restaurant/takeaway around the corner where we enjoyed hot food on a chilly night.
The event was fun and we look forward to more events over the upcoming dark evenings of winter.