Fashions on the Field was first started in Melbourne Australia in the 1960’s with the goal to bring more women to the racetracks. Now, 50 years later, Fashions on the Field is a household name throughout Australia and there is no longer 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 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 (http://www.lisatanmillinery.com), and where there are well dressed beautiful women…there will definitely be twice as many men!
Like our inaugural event they have both a women’s and a men’s division, but as its grown to become so popular in all parts of Australia, there are now three different women’s divisions: 17yrs and younger, 18-40 years, and a 40+ division. There’s also a kids division to give the youngin’s some competitive spirit and many tracks have added on invitation only Milliner and Clothing designer competitions.
“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 VRC 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 offer themselves forward for the role.
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 5 “State Finals” which occur throughout the Spring at tracks around the country. Each State Finalist will win plane tickets to the final at Flemington Race Track in Melbourne, Victoria as well as 9 nights’ accommodation at an amazing hotel in the big city, VIP ticketing at Flemington’s Track and much more. From there, they will go on and compete against each other as well as that weeks winner’s at Flemington to take home the big prizes.
To give you an idea how big it really is, below is this year’s prize pool for the National Fashions on the Field Ladies Winners:
Lexus IS 250C F Sport Convertible valued at $91,550
Myer Shopping Spree to the value of $6,000
TCL Entertainment Pack including a 55″ 3D TV ‐ Smart & Active 3D, 42″ Full HD LED
Longines Prima Luna Steel and Rose Gold Watch valued at $4,400
Antler luggage to the value of $1,600
The National Winner will be presented with a hand crafted sterling silver perpetual Trophy, made by Peter Gertler of Melbourne. The trophy will be housed at Flemington in the Heritage Centre to be viewed by all.
A limited edition, 9ct white gold pin set with white diamonds, a gift from the VRC. Made by Peter Gertler of Melbourne.
Myer Shopping Spree to the value of $2,000
Longines DolceVita Watch, valued at $2,100
Antler luggage to the value of $500
Myer Shopping Spree to the value of $1,000
Longines DolceVita Watch, valued at $2,100
Antler luggage to the value of $300
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 the perfect one out 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.
“It starts with reading through the magazines and seeing what’s in fashion. So I’ve been thinking about this for a while.” Purchasing her dress over a month before the competition date, Lauren Andrews did everything correctly. Following Fashions top 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.
Although Lauren took home the win at the Melbourne Cup, she still had to compete to be her states representative for the National Title against the other State Finalists.
So, what are they judged on?
A panel of judges based their votes on the following Women’s Racewear criteria:
- Style and originality
- Appropriateness of the outfit for the Melbourne Cup Carnival and the individual
- Attention to detail with accessories
- Understanding and interpretation of the current fashion trends
- Grooming and deportment. Suitability of the outfit for the raceday.
The National winner ended up not being Lauren 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.