Hills smooth road for ballet costumers

Last updated 09:59 05/02/2013

Hat in progress: Royal New Zealand Ballet wardrobe manager Andrew Pfeiffer and ‘‘Hatman’’ Simon Smuts-Kennedy from Hills Hats check designs for the headwear required for the ballet’s next production, Made to Move.

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Audiences around the country will marvel at the skills of dancers from the Royal New Zealand Ballet but there's good reason for Petone locals to take extra interest in the costumes.

The headwear the dancers sport is made by the team from Hills Hats in Petone.

Last week the ballet's wardrobe manager Andrew Pfeiffer was back at the Petone factory talking over his latest order with Simon "Hatman" Smuts- Kennedy from Hills Hats.

"This is a fascinating place," Mr Pfeiffer said.

"I would love to be let loose in here, it's like a wonderland."

Adding extra stress to his already busy job was the fact that the felt "flares" that will be made into the final product were held up by Customs for a week.

"Any time you mention fur or felt or wool in a description then biosecurity are extra careful. It's an added worry, but I know Simon and his team will come through for us," he said.

About 15 hats are required in varying styles for the ballet's next production, Made to Move, each made to Andrew's design.

One-off designs are not new to Hills, although they are more used to large orders.

"We create hats of all shapes and sizes and for all sorts of applications from uniforms to high fashion and costumes for stage, television and film," Mr Smuts-Kennedy said.

It is 14 years since the Smuts- Kennedy family took over the company, but Hills Hats dates back to 1875 when Chas Hill set up shop to import and manufacture sports caps.

"Now we send out our hats to the world."

This year the ballet is celebrating its 60th anniversary. It enjoys a reputation for strong interpretations of full-length dramatic works along with major ballets of the 20th century.

The third series of the high- rating television series Secret Lives of Dancers screens later this year. A film based on last year's season of Giselle is due for release later this year.

The Made to Move season opens in Wellington on February 27.

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- Hutt News


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