Spring Carnival, Melbourne, Australia Part II
To read Part I, click here.
Fashions on the Field started in Melbourne, Australia in the 1960s with the goal to bring more women to racetracks. Now, 50 years later, Fashions on the Field is a household name throughout Australia, and there no longer is a lack of pretty ladies at the tracks.
Although Fashion at the Races teamed up with Keeneland to put on its first FOTF event here in the United States, we still have a long way to go to catch up with Australia's fashion competitions.
“Fashions on the Field is important for retaining female fans in racing. It’s kind of ironic that it was introduced to entice women to the races, but it created this whole subset of attendees who now only come to the races for the fashion itself,” said Lisa Tan, a professional milliner (http://www.lisatanmillinery.com) and an avid Australian racing fan (and not necessarily in that order) who attends the Spring Carnival every year.
And where there are well-dressed, beautiful women ... there will definitely be twice as many men!
MEN'S FASHION ALSO IS A BIG PART OF AUSTRALIAN RACING
Like our inaugural event at Keeneland, they have both a women’s and a men’s division, but as it has grown to become so popular in all parts of Australia, there are now three different women’s divisions — 17 years old and younger, 18-40 years old, and a 40+ division. There is also a kids division to give the youngins some competitive spirit, and many tracks have added on invitation only Milliner and Clothing designer competitions.
THERE ARE NO AGE BOUNDARIES WHEN IT COMES TO FASHION
“Myer Fashions on the Field has only enhanced Flemington’s [crowd numbers.]”
This year, Lisa was invited to judge Fashions on the Field.
“This year was the first time I’ve judged a Fashions on the Field competition anywhere. I’ve always wanted to judge Myer Fashions on the Field because it’s such a prestigious event, and having been an entrant for so many years I always wondered what it was like on the other side of the catwalk. It’s really quite an honor to be invited. I judged the Design Award, which is restricted to professional designers who are invited by the [Victoria Racing Club] to participate. This year’s winner was a standout, and I think almost all the judges had him as our top selection.”
Other judges in the past have included such celebrities as Paris Hilton, Carson Kressley, Eva Longoria, and Andrea Bowen. In fact for the last decade, many celebrities and well-known members of the fashion industry actually offered themselves forward for the role.
THE MYERS FASHIONS ON THE FIELD EVENT OFTEN LURES CELEBRITY JUDGES
There are a few different fashion competitions held at racetracks throughout Australia, but the Myer Fashions on the Field is arguably the largest and most popular throughout the country. Myer Fashions on the Field consists of five “State Finals” which occur throughout the Spring at tracks around the country. Each state finalist wins plane tickets to the final at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Victoria, as well as nine nights accommodation at an amazing hotel in the big city, VIP ticketing at Flemington and much more. From there, they will go on and compete against each other as well as that week’s winners at Flemington to take home the big prizes.
To give you an idea how big it really is, click here to see this year's prize pool (worth over $400,000, including a Lexus car!) for the National Fashions on the Field Ladies Winners.
Although it may seem easy to just put something nice on, grab a hat, and get your butt to the stage, it doesn't work that way here. These ladies take this competition very seriously. With stiff competition, you have to bring your ‘A’ game ... and then some. For example, many of the ladies start months in advance. Looking through magazines, keeping up the with current trends, researching millinery (hats), picking out the perfect one or having one custom made for their outfit. No part of the outfit is overlooked. Shoes, bag, hair, jewelry, and make-up are all meticulously picked out to grab that winning sash.
The Melbourne Cup FOTF winner began reading magazines in February.
Purchasing her dress over a month before the competition date, Lauren Andrews did everything correctly.
“It starts with reading through the magazines and seeing what's in fashion. So I've been thinking about this for a while,” she said.
Following top fashion trends, she picked a Neon and navy dress from British label Erdem that sported different patterns and the always-loved peplum that fell perfectly at her hips. She then paired the outfit with a modern abstract hat designed by milliner Kim Fletcher.
STEPHANIE PEET AND LAUREN ANDREWS
Although Lauren took home the win at the Melbourne Cup, she still had to compete to be her state’s representative for the National Title against the other state finalists.
Click here to see how they are judged.
The National winner ended up not being Andrews but instead Amy Robson, who wore a busy print dress with a ruffled peplum that was made from a purse bought at an op-shop months before. Her grandmother, who is a clothing designer, helped construct the dress which was inspired by a design by Alexander McQueen five years before.
Taking home over $100,000 in prizes, both Amy and her grandmother were ecstatic!
Mixing a classic silhouette with some modern accessories, Amy stood out to the judges and made a great race day even better.
AMANDA MACOR, SARAH BREMNER, AMY ROBSON, AND TRICIA MOLA