Rosie's cover image
Rosie

Rosie BOYLAN

Year of Award: 2008 Award State: New South Wales Trades > Fashion, Footware And Millinery
To develop expertise in men's hat design by examining current and historical practices - Italy, France, U.K., USA, Japan
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Rosie Boylan made those bonnets. She has made hats for many films, as well as for plays and television programs. Rosie Boylan has often worked on films directed by Baz Lurhman, such as Moulin Rouge, Australia and The Great Gatsby.

Rosie had worked in the hat making business for many years when she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2008. Rosie wanted to bridge the gap between her wealth of Australian hat making knowledge and emerging global trends in the field. She visited Japan, France, the United Kingdom and United States of America on her Churchill Fellowship, travelling in 2009. 

Rosie’s travels taught her about many different aspects of hat-wearing, not only practical and aesthetic but cultural and historical as well. At the Liverpool Slavery Museum, for example, she learned that while the top hat represented the pinnacle of civilisation to western upper class people, to the working class and to slaves, it was ‘a symbol of oppression,’ Rosie said. ‘The top hat symbolised the appalling abuse of those with the “wrong” skin colour or the “wrong” class by the British upper class who wore these hats – to those of the “wrong” class or colour, it was not Rule Britannia but Cruel Britannia!’

What Rosie Boylan learned on her Churchill Fellowship has enriched her work in immeasurable ways – the aesthetic effects, structural integrity and historical accuracy she brings to her craft has improved it, so that both her film and television work and what she makes for individual customers is more authentic and beautifully wrought.

The historical lessons she gained from her Churchill Fellowship set her thinking about how she could give back to a wider community than just film audiences and the Australian hat-wearing community: so she also works with the Pacific Islands Trade and Investment Commission to help Pacific Nations women to sell their straw products. She collaborates with women from the Marshall Islands, Samoa and Papua New Guinea as they gather straw, which is sustainable and non-polluting, and she helps them to negotiate commercial pathways to sell their products.

Excerpt from “Inspiring Australians” written by Penny Hanley (2015)

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