Freddie Fox, a king among hatters

FROM a barber’s son at Urana to a London hatmaker to Queen Elizabeth II — Freddie Fox went a long way in life.

But the milliner was not an expatriate who forgot his roots or lacked humour, as his sister, Jeannie Marinov, recalled in relation to his last visit to her at Beechworth in 2010.

“We were going up to Villa Gusto near Bright and he phoned and said he wanted to make a booking for Freddie Fox and the four vixens,” Mrs Marinov said yesterday.

“They hung up, they thought he was joking and he then phoned again and said he wanted to make a booking for Freddie Fox and his four sisters.

“They said is it ‘the Freddie Fox?’ and he said ‘yes it is the Freddie Fox, if you must say the’ and we ended up spending a few nights up there.”

Frederick Donald Fox, 82, died in London last Wednesday after a stellar career.

Fellow top hatmaker Stephen Jones told the magazine British Vogue that when he started in London Mr Fox was “the person in London and the greatest milliner there was”.

“He had such an air of refinement about everything that he did,” Mr Jones said.

“He had tremendous class and never did anything that was too much.

“I think that’s why the Royal Family liked him.

“He designed hats for the right occasion — whether the Queen was opening a nursery or launching a ship.”

Mr Fox was born at Urana on April 2, 1931, second youngest of 10 children with his father the local barber and tobacconist.

His interest in hats began during his childhood when he cut up his mother’s felt hat which she used to wear when playing golf.

After attending St Joseph’s School at Jerilderie and working in the drapery section of a store, Mr Fox learnt the millinery trade in Sydney.

He moved to England when he was 27 and after toiling in various studios, met the Queen’s dressmaker, Hardy Amies, and began making hats for the monarch from 1968.

Mr Fox constructed more than 350 hats for the Queen and also created head-pieces for Diana, Princess of Wales, and the Queen Mother as well as producing works for films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Mr Fox regularly returned to Australia to visit family and judge the hat competition at the Melbourne Cup spring racing carnival.

He retired from professional hatmaking in 2002 but continued to make items for friends as he divided his time between homes in London and Suffolk.

Mr Fox was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer in April and received chemotherapy.

A funeral will be held in January with Mrs Marinov saying her brother wanted to be buried near his East Anglia home.

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