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Fashion at the front: Mixed reviews of Caulfield Cup’s new competition

Racegoers watch a fashion show inside the new David Jones Fashion Stable at the Caulfield Cup. Photo: Scott Barbour Racegoers get their make-up done inside the David Jones Fashion Stable. Photo: Scott Barbour
Nanjing Night Net

Zorza Goodman with her Monet-inspired headpiece that took two months to make. Photo: Emily Woods

Donning an enormous 1½kg handmade work of art on her head, Zorza Goodman was hard to miss at Saturday’s Caulfield Cup.

A proud size 22, Ms Goodman had a message for women lacking the confidence to dress up this spring racing season.

“You don’t see plus-size girls at the races that have gone all out,” she said. “Plus-size girls should know that they can come to the races and stand out like any person.”

Ms Goodman spent two months creating her headpiece, which was inspired by French impressionist painter Claude Monet.

She was among the thousands who flocked to the Caulfield Racecourse for a day of racing, drinking, punting, and showing off their best suits, dresses, shoes and fascinators.

While the wild wind posed some problems for women donning elaborate headpieces, the sky was blue and the rain kept away.

For those looking for an alternative to what was happening on the racing tracks, the David Jones Fashion Stables was an exciting escape.

A shake-up of this year’s “fashion stakes” saw the traditional catwalk replaced with a photo-based Fashion on the Fields competition.

Entrants were treated to a session of hair and make-up styling, before being photographed by a professional.

“The absolute focus this year was to provide a great space that’s free entry and everyone can experience and engage in it,” David Jones Fashion Stables creative producer Valentina Jovanoska said.

“The Westfield Style Stakes has allowed the young people to come in and get the instant gratification that they’re after and the beauty about it is they can control the way they look.”

A popular addition to the fashion arena was a team of illustrators, who recreated each outfit as a work of art while punters stood on a podium.

Katherine Burns, who was attending her first Caulfield Cup with friends, said it was a “nice little memento” to take home and remember the day.

There was some opposition to the new competition, which included a $50,000 decrease in prizemoney.

Em Scodellaro, who has entered more than 80 Fashions on the Field events across Australia, cancelled her Melbourne Racing Club membership and was initially unsure whether she would attend Caulfield.

After a meeting with the club, which asked her for her feedback on the changes, she chose to attend, dressed to the nines in a stunning navy Scanlan Theodore frock.

“My dress is very 3D so it didn’t really capture that in the photos,” Ms Scodellaro said.

“I really enjoyed having my illustration done and it’s a great atmosphere in here, so it’s good to see people enjoying themselves.

“I think there’s less entrants that you see regularly and more general public coming through. But the quality of fashion maybe isn’t as high as previously.”

She said she was keen to work with the MRC going ahead, and provide them with feedback on the new-look fashion competition.

Despite some debate about the new format, it proved a hit, attracting three times the number of entries compared to last year’s fashion stakes.

About 1048 men, women and groups entered across the three days of Caulfield Carnival and judge Valentina Jovanoska said the calibre and number of entries far surpassed expectations.

“We hoped that the new format would be popular, especially with a new breed of entrants, but the quality of entries we saw, across all categories, was outstanding,” she said.

For Ms Goodman, a regular Fashions on the Field entrant, getting frocked up for the races also gave her the confidence to open up.

“I fight depression daily and I fight it publicly because not everyone has that confidence level to come out and say it,” Ms Goodman said. “Fashions on the Field has actually been one of my saving graces.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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