An Australian opal will be seen on a catwalk like never before at tomorrow's international Opal Jewellery Design Awards Presentation Dinner.
The dinner will feature a metre-high hat bejewelled with precious Lightning Ridge opals, valued at more than $1m according to local newspaper the Lightening Ridge News.
But the $1m hat is actually a wearable sculpture entitled Deep Blue Sea, created by Australian designer Ann-Maree Willett.
The hat-meets-sculpture boasts 28 opals weighing a total of 1,486 carats. They are set in 337 grams of sterling silver and 18 carat gold.
Deep Blue Sea has previously appeared on the runway at the L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival in 2007, and opened Australia's premier fashion competition the 2007 Australian Masters of Fashion.
The artwork debuted in Milan, Italy where it was exhibited as part of Ms Willett's Climate series.
The artist herself has described it as "a fantasy of hand-blocked Australian felt, awash with swaying feathers and bejewelled with Australian opal."
Ms Willet has now started working with Borsalino, one of Italy's oldest and most respected fashion houses.
"Over the years there have been a number of exciting creative partnerships between opal people and fashion people," said Vicki Drackett of Down to Earth Opals, specialists in one-of-a-kind gem opal carvings.
"But it's something that hardly ever makes its way back to the opal towns. We're glad we can provide the opportunity for Deep Blue Sea to be seen in Lightning Ridge."