For Brisbane fashion enthusiast and FOTF entrant Alyse Jenner, racing fashion is all about having fun and wearing things that you truly love that make you feel confident from the inside out. Alyse has watched the industry and competition of FOTF change over the decade and has embraced both her own individuality and the trends of each season to create her winning looks. Read on to hear more from Alyse. 
Photo: Wendell

What made you first get into FOTF? 
I met Patricia Balmer (Brisbane Milliner) and Dale Olsson (previous owner of Brisbane’s Hat Box store) at a Brisbane Fashion Festival event who, when the subject of FOTF came up, encouraged me to enter. I thought it was just for models and designers but they assured me anyone could enter. Above all, I love seeing each person’s interpretation of the judging criteria – how they convey that through their shoes, clothing, millinery and accessories. It’s both challenging and exciting looking out on an FOTF crowd.

Tell us about your experiences with FOTF. 
When I first began competing in 2008 the “rules” were quite strict and the winners tended to have handmade outfits. Track forward 10 years and FOTF rules are much more relaxed and branded clothing is making a comeback. I’ve also made some lifelong friends and had some amazing days out across the country. 

What has been your greatest experience so far?
My greatest FOTF experience was winning the 2011 Magic Millions. It was such a last minute decision to enter (during the 2011 Brisbane floods) and my dress and millinery cost me less than $100 combined (made by friends). An unexpected win without the pressure of wearing an “expensive” look is always the best kind of win. 

What milliners do you favour?
I’ve loved watching the progression of Jill Humphries. I’m also a big fan of Victorian milliners Lynnette Lim of Love Lotus and Kim Wiebenga – they push the boundaries and I respect that. International Milliners Martha Lynn, Emma Yeo and the incomparable Stephen Jones are also in my top picks.

What trends do you see on the rise for next year?
If 2017 was the year of the Turban then 2018 will be the year of the Beret. In terms of clothing and accessories I think we’ll see more fringing, plaid and all shades of purple. 

Where do you get your inspiration from?
I keep an eye on the international runway shows and generally fall in love with a few looks in particular. Because we are so behind the “trends” here in Australia, what you see in September 2017 likely won’t be on Australia’s radar until September 2018. That gives me plenty of time to create my own spin on my favourite runway looks. At the moment I’m working on a tiered tulle skirt look inspired by Carolina Herrera’s SS18 show at New York fashion week last September.

What is something you would like milliners know about FOTF and the headwear they create?
As an FOTF enthusiast who has entered over 100 competitions, I’m on the lookout for a beautifully made base design that I can alter in some way to wear again with a different outfit. It’s simply not feasible for me to pay $500 every time I go to the track. I believe you can upsell your hats with small interchangeable additions like removable flowers, feathers, embellishments, veiling etc.

And please don’t be afraid to give your client honest feedback. Does the hat shape they’re requesting suit their face shape? Will the colours they are requesting overwhelm the outfit?

What is your favourite outfit you have worn to FOTF?
My most favourite outfit I have ever worn to FOTF was a silver and turquoise handmade outfit which I designed around a vintage wide-brim hat from the 50s. I made the Top 10 on Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington and as an FOTF newbie in 2009, that feeling was amazing. So many kind ladies came up to me that day to say how elegant my look was. 

What do you like or dislike seeing on Fashions on the field?
Although we’ve all been guilty of it, I don’t like seeing “matchy matchy” FOTF outfits nowadays. I also still cringe when I see straw or sinamay millinery worn in Autumn/Winter. 

I like seeing surprising colour combinations, new fabrics or sewing/millinery techniques and funky accessories. Something that makes an entrant stand out from the crowd!

Advice for budding FOTF entrants?
If you see something you really love - a dress, shoes, earrings or hat - buy it! Use that item as your inspiration and the rest will fall into place. Your number one asset on an FOTF stage is confidence. If you don’t absolutely love your outfit, chances are the judges won’t either.

For more Alyse Jenner racing fashion styling follow @airs.and.graces

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Tags: FOTF

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