In 1954 a French milliner by the name of Monsieur Roc Rage breezed into Sydney with his marvelous collection of hats.

It was reported that among Monsieur Rage’s famous clients were Hollwood stars such as Rita Hayworth, Dorothy Lamour and Lana Turner. Here are some newspaper  shots of his designs;


Anxious to produce something extra special for a fashion show at The Hotel Australia,  M. Rage had had formed a working partnership with the well known  Sydney furrier Bernhard Hammerman. The pair were in another  city hotel when Hammerman’s car was stolen from nearby Essex Street. Inside were  the Frenchman’s new fur creations.   He commented,  ‘All I was doing was sampling some of your Sydney beer. It was very good.’   The car was found abandoned at Neutral Bay, but unfortunately the seventeen designer hats had disappeared. Poor Monsieur Rage was devastated;

‘Some of these stolen hats are worth £75 each. I made them out of mink and fur since I arrive in Australia five weeks ago. They were meant for a display in Sydney next week. Then I give them to the Red sell….One thing is certain. I will recognize any woman who wears one of my hats. They are the only ones like them in the world, I tell you.‘  He offered a £200 reward for the return of hats, which were individually named; Ma Cherie, Delicieouse, Nelltatt, Embassy Night. etc.

One thing the Frenchman was very appreciative of was the trouble police took in trying to have his hats returned. He said that if such a theft had happened in France the gendarmes would have  just laughed at him. 😨 Oh dear, surely not!


In the end the police only recovered two hats. They were handed in by a woman who saw some children playing with them in a street gutter at Neutral Bay. Oh the ignominy of such a fate for his creations. M. Rage said he would walk the streets and try to spot any woman wearing one of his chapeaux.

A local millinery factory offered M. Rage the use of their facilities to re-make the stolen hats.   He was so affected by the kindness of everyone that he said he would settle in Sydney rather than continue his world tour.

He leased premises in the Trust Building at 155 King Street and at one point decided to branch out into film making. I can’t find any evidence that this came to fruition, despite the advertisement for aspiring stars.


Trust Building, where M. Roc Rage rented a business suite.

Monsieur Rage rented a suite in The Trust Building,


Monsieur Rage had a foray into film making.


Meanwhile, Monsieur Rage had another dream to follow, He said he had been approached to make, ‘a  jolie, petit chapeau‘ for Queen Elizabeth. ‘The Queen has expressed a desire for an Australian hat, so I intend to create a woolen material….blue? Yes, I think blue for the queen’, he said in Melbourne before he left for London. This modern French expert in millinery intends to buy the finest fleece available, then dye it and weave it himself  into the material for THE blue hat. ‘I will  take about 10 hats to the Palace for the Queen to choose from…..all simple styles and mostly in black and white,’ he said. (Newcastle Morning Herald, September 1954)

And that, my friends, is the last we hear of Monsieur Roc Rage. It doesn’t appear that he did settle permanently in this country. which is a bit of a shame. As for the Queen ever wearing a Rage chapeau….well, who is to say she didn’t? 😎

I can’t help wondering whether one of those missing designer hats is hidden away in a North Shore  wardrobe?  Despite the current craze for vintage clothing  it might have to stay hidden, as wearing fur is no longer acceptable.

For information on Bernhard Hammerman,  Sydney furrier and patron of the arts, CLICK HERE

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