For the first time in the history of the Myer National Fashions on the Field competition, a pantsuit has taken out the National Title! And it wasn’t just any pantsuit, but a rich purple linen pant suit, featuring wide legs and orange binding. Magnificently designed and made by one very creative FOTF entrant.
Christine Spielmann from Darwin is no stranger to FOTF. Over her 11 year career she has won multiple sashes and created some killer looks! She has a great eye for detail and her style can best be described as ‘angular, architectural with a nod to vintage inspired looks from the 60’s and 70’s’.
Chrissy has started her own luxury leather accessory brand, ‘Requiem Trend‘. She incorporated this beautifully into her winning outfit, with a handmade brown leather belt and hat band.
Chrissy was kind enough to have a chat with us about the making of her winning outfit and what it was like to win the National Title, virtual style.
Where did you find inspiration for your outfit?
My inspiration was pulled from a few different sources. Firstly, I have always loved Yves Saint Laurent’s 60’s and 70’s safari suits. I started by googling images and fell in love with one in particular of ‘Verushka’ – the German royal who was a supermodel back then. The image of her in a tie front safari dress was extremely captivating, her attitude was definitely the vibe I was going for – despite my pantsuit turning out rather different.
I grew up riding horses and have great nostalgia for the hacking attire and saddlery. The dress code asks for tailored jackets and the finest leather saddlery, leaving me with an expensive taste in leather goods from a very young age. I often think there are great similarities to hacking and FOTF competitions.
When everything came together I had a vague memory of a cartoon picture book of ‘the pied piper of Hamelin’ from when I was very young. I can’t find anything similar online to confirm this book was real?! I drew from these vague recollections (which may not even be real haha) to create the hat design.
I chose the colour from a Hermes scarf book cover, I’m not very confident when it comes to choosing colours and knew I didn’t want to go khaki, so when I saw these colours on the cover I instantly decided.
Tell us about the making of your suit?
This suit has given me many struggles – I cried over it multiple times, which is funny now, haha. The suit took me 2 weeks approximately to make in July 2019, as I originally made it to wear at Darwin Cup last year.
Three days before it was finished, I was ready to ‘throw in the towel’ so to speak. I couldn’t get the collar to sit right – as my design was nearly all draped on a mannequin rather than flat pattern making, the collar became a challenge. I tried to cut corners by draping the collar, rather than making a substandard pattern.
My buttonhole function on my sewing machine stopped in the middle of doing the 3rd buttonhole, so I raced into town and got my friend to finish them. I’m forever thankful!
One of my favourite parts of my pantsuit is the silk lining, which has stars and dots in the weave.
Tell us about your millinery and accessories
My belt was made over 2 years ago. It was the first belt I made to see if I should try leather work for my label, it turned out so beautifully that I decided to focus on belts rather than bags. Unfortunately, when I tried to get more of the same hardware it was no longer stocked. So it’s a special one-off piece.
My hat is by Peacock Millinery, I went to Belinda asking for the broadest brim hat she had, however, the only large hood suitable for the project was cream, so we had to spray it purple. Belinda chose the crown shape and we added extra height to create maximum impact, she also chose a singular feather at the front which balances out the whole outfit.
It was originally a very tall hat for Darwin Cup, but I ended up cutting the crown and lowering it 2cm at the start of this year as I wore it to Magic Millions with a dress.
The clutch and shoes were spray painted last minute with ‘Mission Brown’. It took me three days to work up the courage to do this, especially as the clutch was a gift from a friend. The shoes are ‘PinkInc’ from Darwin store ‘Stomp’.
My earrings were from a flea market in Lourmarin, France. A lady was selling a card table full of beautiful vintage clip-on earrings, I wanted to buy the whole table however my partner was keeping a tight rein on our holiday budget so I got one pair – which I love. I wore one Lovisa ring and a pearl ring which was a gift from my mum 6 years ago, this is my most favourite piece of jewellery.
What did you think of the state competitions and national final being held via a fully virtual format?
It was very exciting to see that something, anything was happening this year! Furthermore the Territory and ACT were included, at long last (I cannot thank VRC enough for doing this!).
Interesting to note I thought I would never be a fan of a ‘photo based’ competition, but 2020 has been a year to challenge every belief we know.
The only negative I have of the competition is the length of time you have to wait to find out the results, and then once the finalists knew, we weren’t allowed to tell anyone. But it did build up the suspense and excitement of the competition and was all written in the competition guidelines so this is probably something that won’t change in the future I feel.
The effort that went into filming all the finalists and capturing the story behind the outfits was phenomenal. I have a newfound respect for how much goes into two minutes of television, let alone an hour. Having seen this I can say that I’m all for some sort of virtual format continuing into 2021, although I definitely think there should still be a live component at the cup. I also think that the judges having being distanced from the contestants is a positive.
What was it like finding out you were the National Winner? Recreate that moment for us.
I think Crystal Kimber described it best as “Cloud 9”. It honestly feels like you are floating. It is such a surreal experience. It’s taken a week for it to feel real, all the official paperwork including prizes are yet to come as well, so that adds to this feeling that it might not be real. But I’ve definitely been waking up and smiling every morning since.
The moment; I was sitting in my friend’s living room (the internet does not work very well at my place). I’m watching my laptop which is perched on a small step atop a wooden stool. My partner Ken and Milliner Belinda are sitting to my right on the couch watching the tv broadcast on mute.
First comes the introductions and all finalists are on screen, however, there is a 2 second delay to what is on the television so we are going by what is said rather than what we see. Then the announcement: I hear Nadia Bartel talk about pastels and florals trending and thought to myself ‘no, I’ve got no chance’…
She then says “but we loved ‘the purple…’” and my mind went to ‘I’m wearing purple! Who else is wearing purple?…’ and before I could scan everyone on screen she said “…pantsuit”. At this point Ken said I made a weird squeak/gasp noise and due to the TV delay, both Belinda (friend and milliner) and Ken (Chrissy’s partner) didn’t know what was going on till it was a few seconds after. I don’t remember anyone on the panel saying my name or the NT just the words “purple pantsuit”.
Even though I had a small real-time view window of myself on the laptop I kept getting distracted by the large delayed screen (what was appearing on TV) which was very confusing. I was trying to smile yet I was overwhelmed and crying as well. I felt speechless but managed to blurt out the first thing that came to mind. I then sat there for 5 minutes after the live cross had finished as I wasn’t sure what to do next. My phone was on silent so I didn’t hear it going off. The media were outside as well as ‘Lexus Darwin’ to do the handover.
I noticed that my phone had so many missed call messages, but due to getting a new phone 2 days before, I had no idea who anyone was. I randomly called the first number on the list back. It was my best friend yelling with excitement, she was out in the remote bush and managed to watch it, with her baby and husband.
I was outside in 34 degree heat for a good half an hour for media after the announcement. I was all sweaty and my pantsuit was very crinkled from sitting down, jumping and getting in and out of the car. I went back in the house and changed into my normal clothes, packed up and went home. Which felt bizarre, I didn’t know what to do next. Usually the national winner gets sashed and can enjoy the win in the marquee with bubbles and some friends (and not sweat haha!).
I ended up calling close friends back and then finishing the night with dinner at a nice restaurant to thank my friends for letting me use their house that afternoon.
Wow what an amazing experience and story. Thank you to Christine for taking the time to be part of our interview :)
Did you know there has been 17 National Winners since Myer first introduced the State FOTF competitions back in 2004? Check out this blog post to see all of the past winning outfits. You can also read interviews with some of our more recent winners where they share their experience