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Butterfly on a Pin : A memoir of love, despair and reinvention - Alannah Hill

Butterfly on a Pin

A memoir of love, despair and reinvention

Paperback Published: 1st May 2018
ISBN: 9781743794258
Number Of Pages: 352

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Product Description

'Raw and real and funny and sad – I could not put this book down' – Jane Kennedy

'You might expect fluff and fashion ... what you get is harrowing, full-strength, funny and deeply satisfying' – Zoë Foster Blake

Unflinching, funny, shocking, inspiring and tender: this is a story like no other.

Alannah Hill, one of Australia’s most successful fashion designers, created an international fashion brand that defied trends with ornamental, sophisticated elegance, beads, bows and vintage florals. But growing up in a milk bar in 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, haunted by her mother’s refrain of ‘You’ll never amount to anything, you can’t sew, nobody likes you and you’re going to end up in a shallow grave, dear!’

At the height of her success, Alannah walked the razor’s edge between two identities – the ‘good’ Alannah and the ‘mongrel bastard’ Alannah. Who was the real Alannah Hill? 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 the only way she could move forward was to go back. At the heart of it all was her mother, whose loveless marriage and disappointment in life had a powerful and long-lasting effect on her daughter. It was finally time to call a truce with the past.

This extraordinary book is the fierce and intelligent account of how a freckle-faced teenage runaway metamorphosed into a trailblazer and true original.

About the Author

Alannah Hill is a designer, author and stylist. For seventeen years she was the founder and creative director of the brand Alannah Hill, one of Australia's most trailblazing and iconic fashion houses. In 2013 Alannah left her eponymous brand and in 2015 launched her new fashion brand LOUISE LOVE. Alannah lives in Melbourne with her sixteen-year-old son and beagle dog, Jack.

Industry Reviews

'Not since singer Marianne Faithfull published her bestselling, no-holds barred biographyhas 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.'

Honest, raw and intriguing


Overall, an interesting and engaging book about one of my favourite fashion designers. A must read for those who love her clothing





Admire her for baring her soul! what a woman and what a life! Love her creations! Wanted to buy so many dresses when my Mum and I looked in her Westfield Bondi Junction store awhile back 😊



Allanah Hill


So humble and honest, Allanah I loved your clothes and now I love you too.



An original memoir from cover to cover


From the outset I was expecting something I'd not come across before in this memoir and the cover said it all. So honest and revealing, gut-wrenching and yet a tribute to the author as a survivor and creator extraordinaire.



Gut-wrenching, funny and inspiring


A story of highs and lows told in a wonderfully quirky and witty way. It will make you laugh and cry.





I found it hard to accept that this was a true record of her life. Perhaps young people could believe it all.



Amazing memoir of an amazing woman


I have been reading around three books a week for the past fifty years or so and avoid biographies, auto-biographies and memoirs as the few I have read, regardless of the individual they related to, have generally been self-indulgent and quite frankly, unremarkable. My daughter bought Butterfly on a Pin for my husband who is a great fan of this genre of writing. I ran out of books to read yesterday, so despite knowing very little about fashion and nothing about Alannah Hill, I picked this up to read about 7.30 pm last night and have just finished it (12 hours later). This was such an amazing read – raw and extraordinarily honest and a reminder that to move forward in life you have to forgive the past.

Palm Cove Queensland Australia


Fantastic story of triumph


The cover warns this book is both harrowing and funny. It could also have mentioned very readable, almost to the point of cant-put-it-down. I was drawn to the story of the fashion icon because she spent much of her childhood in my town, Penguin. There are people here who remember her and her siblings a little, and remember her mother and father a lot. As an educator I often worked with families where children suffered neglect or found little love from the other inhabitants of their "home". I became familiar with children who were abused in many ways especially emotional and sexual abuse. In all cases these children bear the scars of their upbringing well into adult life, many of them taking the sad outcomes to their grave as dispirited adults. The story that Alannah Hill tells has all these elements but as a rarity the narrative ends well, albeit that the deep-down terror generated during her awful childhood has never left her. To say that the Hill family was dysfunctional would be an understatement. Her father was a womanizing, lapsed catholic alcoholic, a stranger to the children, a raging aggressive threat to their safety. His dismissiveness of them all drove her mother Aileen to deep bouts of depression resulting in attempts at suicide. Aileen had a quick wit but an even quicker temper which on one occasion in a fit of overwrought anger she threw Alannah's sister against the wall and broke her arm. Stories of childhood abuse abound in the book. These include the beautiful sturdy timber box that granddad made to help his daughter Aileen manage her 4 children. They were put into this box with the lid firmly closed for hours. Aileen dismissed Alannah's anguish at being in the box, having convinced herself that it was time they enjoyed being good little kids. Throughout the early chapters as Alannah recounts stories of her upbringing. many connections are made with the local environment, towns schools and businesses. She was (lots more in my review)

Penguin Tasmania


Totally Amazing Book!


This book was so much more than just about fashion (which l LOVE) but a true memoir of Alannah's fascinating life. It was inspiring and also very confronting. The way it is written you felt like she was telling you personally. I loved this book and highly recommend it!



A downtrodden childhood inspired an aim for brilliance


While this is the sad story of Alanna Hill's childhood survival, it highlights the tenacity this develops. Interwoven is the story of the fashion industry in Australia. Brilliant

Melbourne, Australia



4.8 19


ISBN: 9781743794258
ISBN-10: 1743794258
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 352
Published: 1st May 2018
Publisher: Hardie Grant Books
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.3  x 2.7
Weight (kg): 17.64