Alannah Hill, one of Australia's most successful fashion desginers, created an international fashion brand that defied trends with ornamental sophisticated elegance, beads, bows, and vintage florals. Some say, that if Alannah didn't already exist, no-one could possibly have invented her, (except perhaps Mary Shelley in a lavish fit of feminine extravagance)
But growing up in a milk bar in rural Tasmania, Alannah's childhood was one of hardship, fear and abuse. At an early age she ran away from home with eight suitcases of costumes and a fierce determination to succeed, huanted by her mother's refrain of 'You'll never amount to anything... you haven't got a SPECK of personality and you can't sew! You'll end up DEAD a shallow grave in the middle of nowhere!"
At the height of her success, Alannah walked the razor's edge between two identities - the 'good' Alannah and the 'mongrel bastard' Alannah. Reprieve came in the form of a baby boy and the realisation that becoming a mother not only changes your life, but completely refurbishes it, forever.
Yet 'having it all' turned out to be another illusion. In 2013, Alannah walked away from her eponymous brand: a departure that left her coming apart at the seams. She slowly came to understand, that just when you think you're done with the past, the past isn't done with you. At the heart of it all was Alannah's mother, whose loveless marriage and chronic disappointment in life had a powerful and long lasting effect on her daughter
This extraordinary book is the fierce and intelligent account of how a freckle-faced teenage runaway metamorphosed into a trailblazer and true original.
'it turns out Alannah is stagy, frantic reflective and raw. She knows when to mix tinsel with tears.
Anna Johnstone, The Weekend Australian
'you might expect fluff and fashion, what you get is harrowing, full strength, funny and deeply satisfying'
'Raw and real and funny and sad - I could not put this book down'
'Alannah Hill's memoir is like her fashion creations - layered, compelling and memorable.'
Megan Miller * The Herald Sun
'Hill's raw intelligence and dark absurd, slightly berserk sense of humour (a trait she attributes to her mother) blend in prose that chops from free-rangingly florid, to astonishingly simple, beautiful and poetic...It makes for a ripping, inspirational yarn, this story she ached so long to tell.'
Janice Breen Burns The Age
`a beautifully written book'
Richard Glover ABC Radio Sydney
'The book (Butterfly On A Pin) is like a multi-layered blanket of stream of consciousness, enveloping you in its vivid tales and gallery of characters. At times it feels as if you're in a scene from Charles Dickens with urchins aplenty and unspeakable mendacity behind every door; only this is not fiction, it's incredibly real.'
Juliet Rieden The Australian Woman's Weekly
'Not since singer Marianne Faithfull published her bestselling, no-holds barred biography, has a high profile woman's memoir had the power to move us to laughter and tears as Butterfly on a Pin, the remarkable memoir of Australian designer Alannah Hill. Butterfly on a Pin is empowering, entertaining, and insightful. It resonates with readers both familiar and not with Alannah's fashion career, dealing with bigger subjects such as family, estrangement, self-reinvention, and the limitlessness of the imagination.'
Jack Cameron Stanton, Better Reading