Help Miss Fairchild study in Paris

$2,245 of $2,000 goal

Raised by 28 people in 14 months
JB
Jessie Broome  Truganina, VIC
As a little girl I played dress ups in my grandmother's closet, the closet of an award winning actress/singer/dancer/comedienne/contortionist who got her start in vaudeville. I grew up amoung sequins and feathers and beads. My favourite pieces were always her hats and showgirl extravagant headpieces, I loved wearing them, but had no desire to perform. I just loved wearing something beautiful on my head while I went about my everyday life.

One piece in particular I will never ever forget. It was a Cleopatra wig.. but it wasn't hair. It was made of the finest, tiniest beads. So delicate that you could easily mistake it for a wig.

Hi. My name is Sabrina Fairchild (nom de plume) and I am a hat addict.

My life hasn't always been an easy one. My homelife was filled with violence and alcohol and drugs. I left home at 15 and set out to make a life for myself. I met my partner in crime when I was 17. By the time I was 21 I was a mother of 4. By the time I was 23 I started a not for profit (which still runs today) as well as my own business. I managed to break away from poverty and keep away from drugs and raise my girls in a quiet, safe environment. I worked damn hard. I thought if I worked hard enough I could prove to everyone that I wasn't like my mother. Unfortunately 100 hour work weeks caught up with me and ultimately I had a nervous break down.

Not only did I wind up in a psychiatric facility for 3 months, but I lost everything I had worked so hard for. The next 3 years were a haze. I was heavily sedated for most of them. in 2013 in an effort to get back out there I enrolled in a millinery course at TAFE...the rest is history...
Well not quite history...

At the end of my second year (out of 3) of Millinery I was diagnosed with endometriosis and had surgery. Two weeks later I was in a bus crash that dislocated my left shoulder. And two weeks after that I slipped over in fruit & veg shop and came down hard on my right shoulder.

For those of you who aren't milliners - to make a hat you take a "block" (a piece of wood in the shape of the hat you want to make) and using your upper body strength (note: you need working shoulders) stretch felt/straw/other fabric with steam over the block.

To make matters worse, over the summer break, not only did my shoulders not heal, but my mental health deteriorated after an episode of PTSD. I realised I was gay & came out (officially ending my marriage and opening myself up to the joy of homophobic abuse) and then I suffered from a dissociative episode. My brain basically shut down and fragmented off into another person in order to cope with everything.

The year got worse as the house we were renting was sold. We were literally down to the day when the sheriff would come and lock us out. After months of looking at and applying for houses we found one.

But there was one thing that kept me going. The trip of a lifetime to Paris. I had booked it in January (for my birthday) with the help of various charities and some generous souls. I headed off to Paris in October for the trip I had dreamed of since I was 5.
I fell in love with Paris. It wasn't what I expected or hoped it would be, but it was amazing. I found inspiration everywhere, but couldn't translate that inspiration into anything tangible. What was I suppose to do next?

The universe has a way of offering not so subtle suggestions.

At a dinner party in the home of an American writer in Paris, I met a lady who was in Paris purely to study. A former film maker turned jewellery maker was in Paris to study at L’école Lesage. A school dedicated to teaching the art of couture embellishment (beading, ribbon work and embroidery).
L’école Lesage is the school teaching couture embellishment. Maison Lesage is the haute couture house, owned by Chanel. Maison Lesage has been producing haute couture embroidery, beading and embellishment for couture houses such as Chanel & Dior since the 1850's.

I have a love of all things vintage. Especially hats. My personal collection has approximately 100 vintage hats from the 1920's onwards. When you look at the most exquisite pieces they are made from beautiful, simple blocked bases (something I am good at...when I have working shoulders) and are then finished with incredible bead work.
(1950s cocktail hat by Simone Mirman)

So I made an appointment at Ecole Lesage. And I was offered direct entry into their 8 level (258 hours) Haute Couture course. If I can get back to Paris and find the money I am in (they only take a very small number of students each year).

So I finally get to the point. I can get back to Paris. I can *just* afford that. But funding the course is a whole other kettle of fish.

The longest I can afford to stay in Paris is 4-5 weeks. This would give me *just* enough time to study 2 levels. Level 1 costs 1350 Euros. Same again for Level 2. (working out, at the current exchange rate, to be approximately $2000 each). If I can raise $2000aud by the end of April I can book in for level one. If I can make it to $4000 I would be able to book in for Level 1 & 2. I need to book by the end of April at the latest in order to garuntee a place this year.

All money raised will go straight toward tuition fees.

My dream is to work in costume design, period millinery to be more specific. This is going to require years of training across multiple diciplines. This is just the start.

I am no where near good enough with language to put into words how grateful I would be. It would mean the world to me to be able to study there. Thank you for even reading this!
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Update 20
Posted by Jessie Broome
3 months ago
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Bonjour mes chéris!

I thought seeing as how you all helped get me here, that you might be in want of an update.

It's hard!

Yup, the haute couture embellishment course at one of the finest schools in the world, is unsurprisingly, very hard. I am being taught in English, but by English as a second language French teachers....most of whom have been doing broderie since they were wee ones. They talk about things being pretty when they mean neat (and pretty - their work is just so perfectly beautiful) and the flip side of that is that my work, when they mean to say "isn't neat enough yet", is "ugly". Oh boy did I cry hard after the first day. Second day was just as hard and just as much throwing around of the word ugly.

Then I came down hard with the flu. France is having somewhat of a flu epidemic with people dropping like flies. No matter how confident and happy and at peace I feel in Paris, I still am chronically ill and I still have almost no immune system. Panic set in at this stage as there was no way I could go to class and the spots are booked out months in advance. Thankfully they managed to squeeze me in - today was suppose to be my last day....but of course it's me...things did not go to plan. Anxiety, exhaustion and having to choose between having the energy to eat or go to class came up. But thanks to the supportive team at Lesage we have spread my classes out and I have been able to take some days off to rest a recuperate....and to practice. One day I spent 18 hours at the frame practicing. Slowly, but surely, my piece is coming along. Even if the teachers think it's ugly, as someone who gets hand tremors, has two shoulder injuries and has never embroidered before, I am actually starting to feel really pleased with my progress.

Tomorrow I have two classes, so I am going to head off and have a bath and an early night, but I will leave you with a few pictures. If you want to see more check out my instagram page https://www.instagram.com/misssabrinafairchild/ or check the hashtage #sabrinagoestoparisagain

Thank you again for all of your support.

Miss Fairchild xoxo
Hard at work at Ecole Lesage
My set up at home working from bed
Recipe for Level 1 - Michonet
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Update 19
Posted by Jessie Broome
3 months ago
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Eeeeek! In just 14 hours I am due to start my course and as I am too nervous to sleep, I thought I would take the time to thank you all again.

The trip didn't start out well...but I am just going to skip over the 60 odd hours it ended up taking me to arrive in London and the three days I spent sleeping and jump right to the good stuff.

A few of you were curious as to why I was making a stop in London...well it was for the fashion & textile museums of course! I also had all my millinery dreams come true when I got an appointment at the Clothworkers Centre which houses the textile collection of anything not on display at the Victoria & Albert museum....over 100 000 pieces which includes hats and headdresses from as early as 400AD. I was allowed to select up to 6 pieces from their archives to study up close in person. After I was buzzed in, as it's appointment only, I was shaking with excitement. When I was finally collected to be taken behind another locked door and turned the corner I started crying. 6 incredibly millinery pieces laid out beautifully...just for me... including THE Schiaparelli Shoe Hat!!! I learnt so much by studying these hats up close. I chose mostly beaded and sequined pieces as that is the type of embellishment I am here in Paris to learn. It was truly amazing.

Now the real work begins...

Thank you a million times. I would never have gotten here without your support.

Miss Fairchild xoxo
Looking at the fine details
By Appointment Only
My Carefully Curated Millinery Selection
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Update 18
Posted by Jessie Broome
4 months ago
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In 21 hours I take off for my big adventure.

I just wanted to take a quick moment (as I am currently too excited to sleep) to thank everyone who helped make this dream a reality. I can't believe it is finally happening...or happening at all.

Thank you so much for supporting me.

I hope you all had/are having a wonderful holiday season.

Miss Fairchild xoxo
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Update 17
Posted by Jessie Broome
5 months ago
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THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!!!

I can't believe I am saying this - but not only did I reach my goal, I went a tad over!

I have been so unwell this week that I didn't even notice it happening.

In 52 days I leave to peruse my dream of studying in Paris and without all of your help it wouldn't have happened.

I just can't believe it's happening!

THANK YOU to every single one of you who donated. Every cent helped get to this point. $2000 totally covers the first unit (of 8) at École Lesage. I still need to buy some tools & supplies when I am there, but there is no way I could have afforded to pay for the course & the trip.

Thank you a million times.

Miss Fairchild xoxo
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Read a Previous Update

$2,245 of $2,000 goal

Raised by 28 people in 14 months
Created March 2, 2016
$100
Anonymous
1 month ago
$125
Anonymous
5 months ago
BD
$160
BG Dino
5 months ago

Because you're worth it xxx

$30
Anonymous
5 months ago
BM
$100
Bonnie McCrossan
6 months ago

I love you!

$5
Anonymous
6 months ago
$25
Frances Monro
6 months ago

I like to help inflict some of our creative Australians on the world. Paris doesn't know what's gonna hit it!

CB
$20
Catherine Beck
10 months ago

So close to hitting your target! Good luck, you can do this. xxx

JN
$30
Jennifer Navarro
10 months ago
$135
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12 months ago
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