Harriet Culbertson // ‘Habadakas’

Bright. Daring. Unique. These are just a few adjectives used to describe the gorgeous jewellery pieces you see above. ‘Habadakas’ is a  new favourite local brand of ours, specialising in extravagant neckpieces and accessories only worn by the brave and the bold. Suitable for costume-wear, performance and festivals, you can find these pieces sold in small local markets around Adelaide and various online outlets such as Etsy and Paris Adelaide. In fact, Habadakas accessories will also be available for purchase at the Ebenezer Night Markets over the Adelaide Fringe Festival. Each handmade piece is designed and originally crafted by one talented Adelaidian who goes by the name of Harriet Culbertson. We recently caught up with the fabulous designer Harriet – also known as Hattie – to discuss her label, design process, inspiration and future.

Hey Hattie! So tell us a bit about yourself and your brand ‘Habadakas.’

My name is Hattie and I currently live in Adelaide! At the moment, I study a Bachelor of Design (Product Design) at University of South Australia and, as you may have noticed, I have a bit of a passion for designing elaborate neckwear. My mum is a designer and she has her own label works while also working at TAFE, so she has a lot of knowledge and skill; she’s always creating things and that kind of inspired me to get into design. I then decided to explore a rather different field of fashion and looked into making these neckpieces you see here. I make quite elaborate showpieces – almost Avant-garde you could say.

So you mentioned that your mum’s also in fashion, can you tell us more about the rest of your family’s involvement in design?

Well, my mum has her own clothing label called Violet Fish which she directs with her sister and my own sister works for a big fashion company in Melbourne called Globe International working across brands such as Stussy, Vision Street Wear and Obey whilst also managing her own clothing label Paris Adelaide. On top of that, my dad’s a carpenter, so we’re all always making things and designing, asking each other for inspiration and what not. It’s really cool once you get to the end of making a finished product because it kind of feels like a group effort for us; like we’ve each made our own cool little thing with the help of one another.

Why did you decide to start making neckpieces?

Because my mum and my sister both do clothes, I kind of wanted to branch out a bit; explore a different field. So I began sketching neckpieces and started to see where it could take me. I soon found out that I loved it and continued to do it.

And how long approximately does it take to make one of your gorgeous pieces?

Hours! The beading is the most time consuming part. For example, the first piece I made – ‘Born Leader’ (one with chains to the floor) – that took me about 30 hours all up to create. It’s just really time consuming because leather is really thick to hand-bead and also when you’re sewing it you have to be really careful because the leather creates perforated holes so you cant really make a mistake otherwise the holes will stay there. It really requires a lot of attention to detail.

IMG_2266edIMG_2283edBorn Leader bodypiece by Habadakas

How do you go about making one of your pieces? Give us a bit of a run down on the design process.

I hand-sew all of my original pieces. Ill usually start the process by sketching something and then I’ll create a mood board, kind of like a storyboard, to get all my ideas and themes really clear and out on paper.

Then I’ll begin a practice run. Planning my beads takes so long – it’s the most time-consuming part in the whole process. Just laying them out is hard because you can never know how they’ll all end up fitting together. Its such a non-linear process; you keep going back and forth, back and forth. Ill try some chains and then get rid of them; sometimes I’ll just end up scrapping a design altogether.

You have made quite a few amazing pieces so far, what would you say is your favourite one?

My favourite is the ‘Urban Princess’, the one with half chains and half pink leather. I just find it really wearable and I love the chains and bead combination.


Urban Princess neckpiece by Habadakas

Where do you get most of your inspiration from?

I get a lot of inspiration from Bali (I actually get my products manufactured there). The scenery, the nature of the people… it’s all really inspirational. Even so, my debut collection called ‘Hati Hati‘ can be translated from Balinese to mean ‘danger’ or ‘caution’ in English, which really relates to my customer because they need to have that fearless trait to wear my pieces!

Designer-wise I really love Romance Was Born. I love their bold underworld vibe and the fact that in their runway shows everything’s been thought about – they think of everything about their stage and presentation, including so many cool art pieces on their stage.

I also gain a lot of inspiration from a Japanese headpiece Avant-garde designer, Maiko Takeda. Shes got a really cool approach to design. Someone asked her about her design process and she explained how she usually just starts with a question such as “I wonder what it would be like to wear clouds on your head?” and I thought that was just such a unique approach.

Then there’s also just the young designers around Adelaide. There are actually so many amazing Adelaide designers in the local markets I participate in and in my course at university. Sometimes I feel almost overwhelmed with all the inspiration surrounding me.

Headpieces by Maiko Takeda

So you mentioned you like designer Romance Was Born, would you say they are your favourite label or do you have another favourite?

Definitely Romance Was Born, just because they use so many different materials. They make headpieces to go with their clothes exceptionally well. I was a fan of their runway show, Mushroom Magic, in particular. They had an extravagant art piece in the middle of the runway like a little island called, We Miss You Magic Land…it was awesome.

Further down the track, do you see yourself expanding out from neckpieces to accessories or, perhaps, clothing as well?

Well, I have already started expanding from neckwear to anklets and little clutches, but whatever I do I know it will always be leather or heavily beaded embellished, just really one-off pieces that have a lot of work and craftsmanship put into it.

What do you hope for the future of ‘Habadakas’?

I aim to encourage my customers to dress fearlessly and and more boldly. I also aspire to hopefully expand and open my own shop but, in the meantime, I really just encourage bold people to get out there and express themselves and embrace their individual fashion.

Big thanks goes out to:

Sarah Jeavons (Model)
Soundpond.net (Venue)

Alfonso Coronel & Sam Twidale (Videographers)


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