This week we’re interviewing our 2015 national winner, Emily Hunter, and hearing about her life both on and off the track!
This is the second interview in a three part series profiling our past three national winners. If you missed the first interview with our 2016 national winner Courtney Moore, I recommend going back and reading that post first to really appreciate the significance of being crowned the national winner.
Emily Hunter | National Winner 2015
Fashion Related Questions
How long have you been entering FOTF? Number of events per year?
Just the one, Melbourne Cup day 2015.
Describe your winning outfit and where you got the idea/inspiration?
The outfit I wore started with the headpiece – an absolutely stunning handmade leather and lace creation in pinks, yellow and navy, from Lisa Schaefer Millinery in Grenfell, NSW (my home town).
As the headpiece was clearly the statement, I decided to keep the rest of the outfit simple. My mother Angela made my dress out of the most beautiful navy Italian jacquard, using a modified Vintage Vogue and some kitchen paper as her pattern.
Lisa has since told me the headpiece was inspired by “Spring flowers” – how perfect for the Melbourne Cup at Flemington. The dress itself was inspired by an image of Zina Charkoplia at Paris Fashion Week.
I loved the full skirt and the textured fabric of Zina’s dress. Mum incorporated the high-low hemline (which happened to be a huge “trend” in racing fashion that year, who knew!) as it showed a peek of the pink lining, and created fullness in the skirt with large box pleats, an extra layer of material hidden between the jacquard and the lining, and two petticoats (one borrowed from my sister’s “dress ups”).
What was it like winning the national final? Recreate the moment for us.
Honestly, I was in a state of shock. I felt like everything was going crazy around me and I was just in this little bubble of disbelief.
The whole day was highly emotional for me- my parents had never been to Flemington before, they made the trip specially to see me compete in the dress mum made and the headpiece from little Grenfell.
They were so proud and passed on so many well-wishes from everyone in town – needless to say I was feeling the pressure! By the time the national final approached, I was numb – it was the strangest state I’ve been in!
Looking back, it was the best day of my life and I will treasure the memories forever.
Has your life changed in any way since taking out the winning sash?
My life has definitely changed since winning the National competition. Being a FOTF novice, I had no idea there was such a big community of FOTF enthusiasts out there and I didn’t fully appreciate the significance of racing fashion in Australia.
I love that racing fashion has become one of my main interests now. I had an amazing year last year judging the State Finals and attending glamorous events, and since then have been asked to be a regular contributor on ABC local radio “talking fashion” once a month.
It has also changed the lives of both Lisa and my Mum, boosting their business profiles and enabling them to focus on creating beautiful things that make people happy, which is what they both love to do.
What do you like most about FOTF? Will you continue to enter FOTF competitions?
I love seeing the beautiful outfits and meeting like-minded women who are only too happy to talk about fashion for hours and have a few champagnes! One of the best things about FOTF is the friendships that come out of it.
I will always make a point of going to the FOTF competitions any time I go to the races, but will probably just be a spectator rather than an entrant.
Who are your favourite milliners and racewear brands/stores?
Obviously my favourite Milliner is Lisa Schaefer. Not only is Lisa incredibly talented, she is a generous, kind and beautiful person, and I feel so fortunate to have a friend like her – especially grateful for all the last-minute millinery she whipped up for me!!
There are so many other talented milliners, I love seeing everyone’s creative unique pieces at the races. Philip Treacy’s designs are truly spectacular and he has been a trailblazer in the millinery scene for decades, it is hard not to list him as a favourite.
The scope of Louise McDonald’s creativity means she has something to suit a myriad of tastes/styles, and I really like how Allport Millinery’s signature perchers are instantly recognisable as one of her designs.
Favourite racewear brand, without a doubt my mum’s label, The Collaborative Dressmaker. Nothing compares to having a custom-made outfit by a talented dressmaker and if you want to set yourself apart from the crowd, a bespoke dress (or outfit) is a must.
My favourite places for accessories are net-a-porter for something unique and not typically available in Australia, and vintage or op-shop finds.
What advice would you give to other race goers (myself included!) who dream of one day becoming the national winner?
This formula has worked for at least the past 3 FOTF National winners – choose standout, bespoke millinery and let the rest of your outfit complement your headpiece.
Away from the Track
Where do you currently live? What do you like most about the city/town?
Melbourne has been my second home for the past 11 years, and it is easily my favourite city in the world (that I have seen so far). I love its grand old (and new) buildings, amazing restaurants, beautiful galleries, gardens and parks, it’s proximity to just about everything from wine country to hikes to beaches – not to mention its horse-racing :)
My favourite thing about Melbourne is that it’s the style capital of Australia, I’ll never get tired of shopping in Melbourne. It is also where John and I met, so it will forever have a special place in my heart.
Where do you work? Why did you choose that profession?
I started working in office administration when I first moved to Melbourne at the age of 18. It was never my childhood dream to become an Executive Assistant, but I immediately loved the lifestyle of the corporate world and met so many inspiring people from different walks of life, so I decided to pursue the career Executive Assistant path.
I now work as the Office Manager and Executive Assistant at a boutique investment firm at the “Paris end” of Collins Street (my building’s neighbours include Chanel, Prada, Gucci, Louboutin… and my favourite shop Tessuti… it’s a very dangerous part of town!).
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
On a complete whim, I went skydiving in 2014. And I will never do it again!! But I am so proud of myself for not chickening-out. If you are thinking about going sky-diving, DEFINITELY get a copy of the video, it is the funniest thing you will ever see.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
I spend most weekends catching up with friends and family, taking the puppy on “adventures” (literally anywhere we go is exciting to him) and watching John play footy.
Pinterest is my biggest weakness, I spend hours on it, then hours doing things as a result of it (cooking, creating, shopping…). I also love to travel.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your FB profile?
I have recently got into furniture restoration. I am becoming more and more like my mum every day! She has hand-restored a lot of the furniture in our home on the farm.
I have tried my hand at recovering a chair and staining a tallboy, but I’d love to do a course to learn how to do it all properly. Furniture restoration sounds a bit lame maybe, but like any creative hobby, it is really rewarding to see the finished product.
If you could only keep five possessions, what would they be?
So tough to narrow it down to only 5– I am such a material girl! Since I can’t decide between which shoes/clothes/jewellery/millinery/art/books/furniture/cosmetics I couldn’t live without, here are the three things I would keep:
1. My miniature dachshund, Burnie
2. The ring my grandmother left me
3. My phone (I’d be lost without all the photos of precious memories on there!)
What is a skill you’d like to learn and why?
I’d love to be able to sew like my mum can, she is amazing and can create anything. It would be so cool to be able to whip up whatever clothes my heart desires!
What’s the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it?
We just finished season 2 of Outlander. Best show on Netflix!
What is your biggest/weirdest fear?
At 29 years old, I am still (embarrassingly) afraid of the dark.
If you could trade lives with one person for an entire day who would it be and why?
Maybe Neil Armstrong on July 20 1969 so I could walk on the moon and see the earth from space – but only that day, I would not have the patience to train as an astronaut. Or Kate Middleton to be a princess for a day.
What have you always wanted? Did you ever get it?
I have wanted a mini dachshund since I was about 20, and two years ago we adopted Burnie.
I hope you enjoyed hearing about Emily’s story, both on and off the track. Here’s that link again to the first interview with Courtney Moore. Keep an eye out for the future interview with Brodie Worrell.
Will you be attending Spring Carnival this year? Come talk fashion and meet our 1300+ members in the Field Fashion Community Facebook Group and join our annual in-person meet-up in Melbourne at this year’s Spring Carnival!
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