2020. Wow. What a strange one! It will forever be remembered as the year we saw a pandemic sweep through the entire world, shutting down businesses and borders, hibernating humans, creating toilet paper aisle chaos, and cancelling our much-loved and anticipated racing events.
One by one came the announcements of canceled race days across the country, across the world, leaving race wear fanatics in horror at the realization- no Fashions on the Field competitions!
This meant no where to wear those outfits we’d spent so much time and money on, dressmakers had their orders cancelled, milliners suffered an immediate halt on sales and small boutiques had to close or move online.
The chatter in the racing fashion community started to grow louder and it was hard to ignore. Something had to be done to keep our spirits up and our community thriving.
It didn’t take long at all before Viera Macikova from Get Racy started posting about hosting a Virtual FOTF competition on her Facebook Page.
At the same time Bethany Braj from ‘Best Dressed Access’ contacted Em Scodellaro from ‘It’s All About the Sash’ and myself to organise a virtual FOTF competition. Hooray! It felt like we were back in action.
I actually had already organized a few virtual FOTF competitions in my Facebook Group ‘The Field Fashion Community’ three years ago. The thought had crossed my mind to do another one, but knowing the amount of work involved (and it’s A LOT of work for just one person) the thought stayed as just that……a passing thought.
Who remembers these?
When Bethy reached out to me to get involved and run the event together, I was more than happy! Em mentioned that Viera had already voiced her idea to do a Virtual event and Bethy got in contact with her.
A team of racing enthusiasts coming together to create an EPIC Virtual FOTF competition was thrilling and bound to be something really special.
A group chat began with Viera, Bethy, Em, Angela (from On Track on Trend) and I to discuss ideas and get the ball rolling. We decided Viera, Bethy and I would run the event with Em and Angela helping to promote it across their social media channels.
The competition came together in a matter of days and we quickly settled on the title, ‘Virtual FOTF’. Bethy’s husband created the website. We discussed how the competition would be run, how it would be judged and the timeframe. Viera wrote the competition rules and guidelines and we were off and running!
As predicted, there was A LOT to do. Luckily for us, Viera has a background as a project manager and we had a clear direction of what needed to be done and when.
The competition was set to run over five weeks with four weekly rounds and then a Supreme Winner chosen from the four weekly winners.
We got an Instagram account and Facebook Page soon after. It was all coming together but of course there was one thing missing. No FOTF competition is complete without some fun prizes!!
Over $16,000 in Prizes
We each posted a call out call for sponsors and donations.
We were blown away as the offers just kept rolling in!! Vouchers for millinery, dressmakers, cash prizes, style sessions, jewellery prize packs, race day tickets, magazine subscriptions, fashion illustrations, high tea vouchers, amazing skin care packages, fashion books, TAB vouchers and more!
We received over $16,000 in prizes!!!
Originally, we were just going to have a prize for the weekly winner of each round, but due to the generosity of interested sponsors, we had enough going around to offer first, second and third each week. Plus, the Supreme Winner prize!
The Ultimate Judging Panel
A super fun part of this competition was choosing our judging panel. We wanted industry experts, ladies and men who had extensive knowledge on racing fashion, but who also had a mix of styles and interpretation. Milliners, stylists, photographers, bloggers, past national and state winners made up our esteemed judging panels.
We needed five rounds of judges. There were three womenswear rounds, one menswear round and a Supreme panel. Recognise some of these people?
The Round One judging panel included Kash O’Hara, Peter Bell, Millicent Van Der Velde and Claire Hahn.
Round two consisted of four past Myer National FOTF winners, Carena West, Crystal Kimber, Carle Rutledge and Courtney Moore.
Week three included Jenelle Basten, Melissa Barnes, Elizabeth Winlo and Bernadette May.
Round four, the menswear round, was judged by Neil Grigg, Tim Marsh, Kerrie Carucci and Wendell Teodoro.
The Supreme Final Round consisted of Angela Menz, Em Scodellaro, Bethy, Viera and myself. I have to say that our job was a whole lot easier, as we only had to select a winner from four entrants.
378 Incredible Racing Fashion Looks
With the competition in place and ready for our very first round we waited eagerly for the entries to come in.
And they did. I was hoping to get between 30 and 40 entries and by the last day of round 1 we had 82 entries!!! A fantastic effort from our community and we were thrilled with everyone who took the time to dress up and participate.
The second round was even bigger!!! 126 entries!! And finishing on a high note of 147 for the last women’s wear round. The menswear round had a lot less entries, with 28 in total, but no shortage of dapper looks.
If you’d like to see the weekly entries, click here.
In the Spotlight
Once it became apparent the event was going to be a success, we contacted a few media outlets to see if they would feature our event. They jumped on board, excited to vibe on fun ideas on how communities are getting through Covid-19.
We were featured in The Daily Mail UK, The Courier Mail, The Millinery Association of Australia April Newsletter, The West Australian Paper, the Millinery Info Podcast, GWN7 News and the Wimmera Mail Times!
Running the Competition
I have to say, there is no way just one person could have run this competition on their own. It was a huge amount of work and having a three-person team made things so much more achievable and enjoyable.
Viera spent endless hours uploading your entries to the website, cropping, brightening and resizing photos, as well as going back and forth with entries that didn’t comply with the competition rules.
Bethy was our blog writer, interviewing the weekly winners and judges (you can read our blogs here) and our fabulous in-front of camera spokesperson.
I uploaded entries to the Facebook Page and Virtual FOTF Instagram feed and did sponsor posts.
We also shared tasks such as answering questions about how to enter the competition, running the additional ‘Follow our Sponsors’ and ‘People Choice’ competitions, liasing with the judges about the judging process and tallying results.
Although it was a lot of work and, at times, my patience waned….my favourite part of the competition was working alongside two amazing ladies, Viera and Bethy. I have known them through the racing fashion community, but not had a chance to bond on a more personal level. This experience definitely brought us together and shone light on what amazing, driven and creative women they both are!
The competition was a real hit, with so many spectacular entrants in each round! We loved the creativity. Covid-19 meant there were no leisurely shopping trips to undertake…entrants had to put together an outfit from what they had in their wardrobes already, or order things online. Then, entrants had to get creative with setting up self timers or getting their children to take photos of their outfits!!
The judges certainly had a hard time deciding on their winning looks. It was fun to see so many different styles, from classic to contemporary, from high price point designer items to DIY outfits, monochromatic and colourful looks.
Round 1 Winners
Khristina @trackfillies took out the very first round 1st place in an orange long sleeve midi length dress and black rear facing millinery with an oversized bow. Stacey @staceyhemeraroberts took out 2nd place in an all white look, featuring pants, vest and a sheer blouse worn underneath, finished with a wide white brim felt hat. Kelly @kell_bella_babe took out 3rd place in beautiful autumn tones, a midi length dress with textured crown millinery.
Round 2 Winners
Sally @sallymallyon placed first, wearing a pleather dress over the top of a printed dress topped with a cute beret with veiling. Aleisha @aleishamitchellnz took out 2nd place in a very unique outfit, an apricot dress with black latice like vest worn over the top and feather millinery. Sarah Crockett took out the 3rd place in a cute blue floral dress and beret.
Round 3 Winners
Emma @emma.c.wells was the winner of round 3, in an A-line mini dress, paired with black thigh high boots and leather twist millinery. Stacey @staceyhemeraroberts was awarded second place in a beautiful monochromatic outfit featuring a full skirt with black lace top and black felt millinery. Kiara @kiaramanning_ placed third in an elegant Zimmermann dress with blush pink feather millinery.
Round 4 Winners
The menswear winner of Round 4 was Steven @stevengmelbourne in a dark checkered merino wool suit and grey Brixton Flat Cap. Neil @neilcter wore a light grey checkered suit with soft purple accessories placing 2nd. Third place was Jonathan @jonathan_usi wearing a light beige suit with black fedora and accessories.
The Supreme Winner
The Supreme round consisted of the four weekly winners, Khristina, Sally, Emma and Steven. They exhibited a beautiful mix of classic and contemporary Autumn outfits, each very uniquely styled.
Only one could take out the coveted sash, however, and the Supreme Winner’s title was awarded to Sally Mallyon. Congratulations!
We loved the sophisticated mix of high end, high street and budget fashion, mix of prints and textures and Sally’s personal touches.
We are so lucky to have such an AMAZING community which made all of this possible, especially amidst a global pandemic! We really hope to host another Virtual FOTF competition in the near future, minus the pandemic, of course.