Roll up, roll up, come and see the best in show! At the Ekka, there are hundreds of prizes to be won in categories from arts to cattle, not to mention delectable cakes in glass cases (too many witnesses to smash said cases, unfortunately). In 2016 the RNA Showgrounds hosted the inaugural Fashions on the Field competition. Approximately thirty entrants put their best stiletto or loafer forward to claim prizes across four categories worth over $5000 each and the chance to set the bar for future competitions. While this makes for a glamorous outing, spare a thought for those of us mortals rocking jeans and a t-shirt.
The winning prize for each category included a Dendy Bronze pass, a membership with Fitness First, the opportunity for a cosmetics makeover with Napoleon Perdis Chermside for the ladies and Emporium Barber Service for the gentlemen amongst others.
Fashions on the Field had four divisions – Best Dressed Lady (18 – 40), Best Dressed Mature Lady, Best Dressed Male and Best Headwear. Contestants were to be over eighteen, have no commercial purpose for competing and across all categories there was a common rule; “Outfit should be of classic race wear for the Spring Season”. Understanding of current trends in race wear was important and personal flair was encouraged.
The judging panel included Lauren Holland, a figure in racing fashion who has won many prizes (a cool $100,000 worth) for her style and before the competition began, she was interviewed by Channel 9 about the proceedings. When asked about how much an outfit could cost to put together, Lauren noted that it varied from the lower end and being handmade to several hundred dollars in dresses, shoes and millinery bought from a boutique. This made Ewan Gardam an appropriate judge for the competition. Who better to critique the quality of an outfit than a businessman with over four decades of experience sourcing fabric and providing dream gowns to brides around Brisbane?
Competition was fierce among the entrants. Fascinators were fit enough to be trophies of their own and makeup artists were on hand for last minute touch-ups. Staples ranged from bright colours to black stilettos, but two main characteristics resonated throughout – delicate lace detailing and floral prints. This kept with the theme of “spring” racing and showcased the “bright colours of the bright state of Queensland”, as noted by the emcee.
The entrants came from all walks of life; the runner up for best headwear was a teacher and the winner for best dressed male was a horse trainer. Many enthused about studying fashion or at least having a fascination for it. Personal touches were common; one entrant was a milliner herself and made custom headwear while another stayed awake into the early hours of competition day sewing the final touches on her skirt. The winner of the millinery category, Alla Dimech, used her Russian heritage as a part of a story to create a headpiece reminiscent of a kokoshnik tiara. True to Lauren’s word, some ensembles were made from scratch or recycled from previous outfits.
By 1pm, August 8th, it could be confirmed that the inaugural Fashions on the Field was a success. The event created to celebrate race wear begun with a cracking start, bringing together contestants of different backgrounds but all sharing a passion for fashion. The judges had a tough time deciding winners, who each brought their unique touches to the competition, but in the end four lucky people walked away with over $5000 in prizes and with the knowledge they have set a high precedence for future competitions. May the best in show win.