Fashions on the Field 2015 – Angela & Emily
The idea for this blog post has been a few years in the making but, with Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival upon us, I thought now would be the perfect time to finally tell this lovely story.
For those of you not familiar with Fashions on the Field, it’s a pretty huge drawcard to Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival. In the lead up to the big fashion finale held on Oaks Day, there are a series of significant race days where a Fashions on the Field event is held. In each of these, a winner is chosen who then goes on to compete for the big kahuna prize that is the National Competition. For those who are into it, FOTF has become a pretty big deal with some pretty serious prizes on offer. $83k Lexus anyone? Suffice to say it’s come a long, looooong way since Colette won her holiday, magnum, and a bottle of Fendi perfume in a 1990 competition…
Two years ago, on the Saturday right before Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup holiday (yep, we get a public holiday for a horse race), Emily Hunter visited our Flinders Lane store with mum Angela. They were looking for a navy fabric to make a dress for Emily to wear at Cup Day’s Fashions on the Field . They spoke about the headpiece that Emily had hired for the day – this beauty from Lisa Schaefer Millinery – and knew that a dark dress was just what they needed to showcase the stunning lace headwear. The fabric they ended up choosing was our Cloque Spot, a simple Italian jacquard with navy spots and, for some party-on-the-inside, a Hot Pink rayon lining.
Over the next two days, mum and daughter hung out and Angela sewed up a storm. Inspired by this image, they chose to combine Vogue 8789 (view B) for the bodice and McCalls 6706 (lengthened) for the skirt. And the result was all class and elegance.
Not only did Emily take out First Place on Melbourne Cup Day, she then went on to take out the overall National prize as well. From head to toe, Emily’s whole look was simple and perfectly put together. Her clutch was a $3 buy from a bargain bin, she did her own make up and Angela did her hair. Also, how completely perfect are those yellow pumps?
When I caught up with Emily a little while after the win, I asked her why she’d entered. She explained that the year before competing, she’d written a bucket list that included random things like getting her truck licence (“the boys do everything on the farm”), sky-diving and entering Fashions on the Field. But this story is about much more than the competition and the win. Both Emily and Angela said that the best part was just hanging out together and sewing the dress in the two days beforehand. When I spoke to her a few days afterwards, in true sewist fashion, Angela said “I’m glad the judges didn’t look too closely!”. To make the dress in limited time, Mum travelled over 650km (from Grenfell in rural New South Wales) to help out her daughter. She flew back home on Tuesday, the morning after finishing the dress and the day of the competition. Luckily, both Angela and Emily’s dad John were able to come back and watch her win the big final on Thursday’s Oaks Day.
In spite of this seemingly fancy event – and one in which “couture designer Craig Braybrook declared the event had become so “professional” that a novice couldn’t possibly win“, these humble, down-to-earth and clearly very close mum and daughter proved otherwise.
Emily’s advice to anyone thinking about entering? “Just do it! It’s SO much fun!” And just to prove that the mum/daughter/handmade winning combo wasn’t a one-off, last year’s Cup Day FOTF first and third prizes went to sisters Olivia and Charlotte Moor, both wearing dresses sewn by their mother.