November 25th is St Catherine’s Day, a day for the patron saint of hats in France. This traditional day was all the inspiration Catherine Kelly needed to launch Embellish Atelier in Sydney in 2005.
Catherine Kelly welcomes new and existing clients to design and craft the perfect hat or headpiece to suit their personality, occasion and attire in a magnificently restored historic building with soaring pressed metal ceilings, rustic walls, and elegant chandeliers- Embellish Atelier at 128 Victoria Road Rozelle.
The French-inspired studio is an intimate space where her creations evolve over appointments with the client. Catherine’s style and colour inspiration comes from her travels, her interest in architecture and her studies in, and as a teacher of design, technology and millinery. “Studying millinery has been the perfect outlet for my passion for fabric, colour and texture” says Catherine who puts to use her skills acquired over 30 years.
Catherine grew up on a dairy farm and cattle station in rural Queensland and cites her upbringing as one where she was required to be resourceful, creative, inventive and courageous. “Learning to sew on my mother’s Singer treadle machine sparked a lifetime interest in fabric, fashion, pattern and colour. I would run over to the dairy to get mum to help me with a wayward seam or zip and run back to finish a garment for the local dance. I was also encouraged by my English grandmother who as a professional dressmaker remarkably made wedding dresses during the war from parachute silk. An early necessity of life was wearing a hat in the harsh outback sun and I have always been renowned for my collection of hats.”
Catherine’s career path took her to learning the art of teaching textiles and design at high schools from the Gold Coast to Central Queensland to the City of London School for Girls in London. Simultaneously she put her creative talent to use creating and marketing elegant gift items for Liberty of London to a luxury range of soft furnishings including bedlinen, cushions and lampshades in Sydney. . And today as a milliner, Catherine offers seasonal collections of her millinery designs.
Accolades and awards…
Diploma of Teaching – Home Economics 1982- QUT, Brisbane.
SCDA – Diploma Colour and Design, Sydney 2000.
Cert 2, certificate 4 Millinery Ultimo TAFE 2003, 2005
International Hat Arts Competition Winner Public Prize – Prix du Public L’atelier Musee du Chapeau in 2009.
Jean Carroll Award – Best Spring Derby Day Hat
Co-founder of Hats and High Tea events.
2009 Sydney Royal Easter Show – 1st Place, Excellence Award and a Highly Commended for millinery creations.
Exhibition – The Art of Contemporary Millinery – Outlaws- Breathing Colours Gallery 2009.
David Jones Exclusive Collection- Melbourne and Sydney Stores – Spring 2010.
2012 Hat Life Hatty Award – contribution to millinery.
Millinery Tutor – Hats off to Brisbane – 2013, 2015.
Millinery Tutor- Lina Stein School of Millinery – Westport, Ireland 2013.
Hats selected for display at the XX1st Century Hat Exhibition, London 2015.
All About E. hats and masks for movie by Louise Wadley 2015.
Teacher- Sydney Community College- 1990-2015.
2015 Royal Melbourne Show – 1st Place – Winter Millinery
2015 Royal Melbourne Show – Commended- Themed Wearable Art Millinery- Halo.
Hats Selected for Milliner X Artisan 2016 London Hat Week Official Exhibition
Finalist – Inner West Business Awards – 2016
Winner – Outstanding Youth Award- Sarah Jehan – Embellish Atelier – Inner West Business Awards- 2016
My Fair Lady – Assistant to Rebecca Read- Head of Millinery – Opera Australia. 2016
NSW Committee Member/ Vice President – Millinery Association of Australia.
Catherine and her children initiated and run the JSKfund in honour of her late husband John Skipper Kelly – supporting leadership opportunities for disadvantaged youth.
Her successful business is based on the principles of using only the finest textiles to produce the finest headpiece for her clientele. Catherine’s designs are timeless and her bespoke pieces add glamour and elegance to all occasions.
“Wearing hats everywhere was part of my life, now it is my business. A hat completes an outfit. Everyone remembers someone who wears a hat”