Ataahua Mahi – Beautiful Work


Fashion fans can see Simone Montgomery’s millinery on Display for Dunedin Fashion ID week.

See her work on display from 30 April – 6th May in two venues:

Mayer Shoes in Wall St Mall Dunedin – with thanks, Glen and Poppy

Fashion ID Hub in the Meridian Mall, with thanks, Tracey and Kris

Simone Montgomery shares some background on this project…


Ataahua Mahi – Beautiful Work

Hats, you either love them or you hate them, I have been in love with hats for a while and wistfully lament days gone past, whereby my Mother and Grandmother waxed lyrical about, “The days that you never left the house without gloves and a hat in place.”  My best family hat story is one from my Aunty, who an excellent storyteller, had the cousins in fits of laughter one day explaining about the exploits of the dreaded and battered Girls School Felt hat. One day on the way home, In a deluge, this particular hat was rotated  180 degrees, brim repositioned and became a very effective norwester.  I know, you had to be there, but we don’t seem to have many hat stories anymore.


I have become passionate and interested in fashion and vintage millinery over the last two years as I have developed a keen interest in Race Day High Fashion. It gladdens my heart to see the quality of millinery being made and worn at New Zealand and Australian Race Days.


Being a bit of a crafty DIYer, I started to make my hats, how hard can this be?  I rather mistakenly thought.  It has now become a bit of an enjoyable obsession. I have learned that the art of millinery not only involves expertise in material manipulation, it is also essential that you have an ‘eye’ for shape, colour and form for each hat and situation.  The assemblage on your head is a mini sculpture.


I wanted to develop a point of difference to my millinery, and this body of work inspired by my whakapapa embodies my investigations with the beautiful materials of Aotearoa.  Harakeke, paua, and nephrite.  The manipulations of these materials for the pure joy of ‘being pretty’  has been very satisfying; they are materials that I love, and they have a very strong aesthetic.


I am continuing to work with traditional millinery materials such as sinamay and straw; the sinamay has a dimensional strength that the harakeke does not. I have experimented with traditional and nontraditional materials (have you spotted the placemat hat, yet?) to form the base of the structure and then use the paua, harakeke, and nephrite as decorative elements.

The harakeke flowers are from Anita at Flaxation,  the harakeke lattice net is from  Sema at Artiflax, and the Paua from Ocean Shell, Riverton. 


I have a total of 10 pieces on display for Dunedin Fashion ID week 30 April – 6th May. Four at Mayer Shoes in Wall St Mall Dunedin – thank you, Glen and Poppy. The remaining six are at the Fashion ID Hub in the Meridian Mall, thank you, Tracey and Kris.

Simone Montgomery – Waitaha, Nagti Mamoe, Kai Tahu


We love to share  projects and exhibitions by CTANZ members, if you have something coming up that speaks to our membership, via fashion, art, dress, textile, history/herstory, adornment or research, get in touch!

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