Spring racing brings with it a buzz of excitement, business and late nights for milliners all over the world but what about those gorgeous fashionistas who get to model the delicately stitched brims, carefully sculpted trims and fanciful gravity defying works of art. What does it mean for them? We spoke to long time Fashions On The Field enthusiast and the face behind FOTF Social group "It's All About the Sash", Em Scodellaro about all things fashion - the shoes, the styling, the friendships, the sashes and of course, the millinery. Photo @streetsmith
What made you first get into FOTF, and what do you love most about it?
I have had a lifelong passion for fashion. My earliest memories are of standing in the bathroom watching my mother carefully apply makeup or styling her hair. Mum would always talk me through why she was putting an outfit together the way she was, and we would often discuss what colours looked good together. We complemented well put together outfits on TV and in magazines and discussed why fashion failures were so.
After a trip to Hong Kong & picking up a very unique dress, I decided to match it with a piece of millinery, designed by a friend. My sisters & I decided to attend Caulfield Cup with a group of friends & one of my sisters & I entered FOTF. Although I did not final, I received a lot of positive feedback & had an extremely enjoyable day, so decided to attend several other race days, both city & country. Along the journey I picked up many tips & decided to tackle FOTF competitions more seriously the following year. I then began to research FOTF more widely online, along with researching local & overseas fashion designers & milliners. I just love spending time putting outfits together than having the opportunity to dress up and feel my best in something I have put together myself.
Tell us about your experiences with FOTF.
I began competing in FOTF in 2009 and have since competed in around 100 competitions in my hometown of Melbourne, in Country Victoria and also on occasion, interstate. My passion for FOTF was the driving force behind the Facebook group and more recently, Instagram page I created called ‘It’s All about the Sash’, which is a networking and friendship site for FOTF competitors, milliners, designers, photographers and supporters where they can share photos, advertise upcoming FOTF competitions, ask questions and share sales and product launches. I just love competing in FOTF for the beautiful fashion and most importantly, for the social aspect.
What has been your greatest experience so far?
My greatest experience has to be the people I have met through competing in racing fashion. The relationships I have developed are far more important than any prize that could be won. I have developed some amazing friendships.
Is there a milliner/milliners that you favour?
I use Jill Humphries of Jill and Jack Millinery
exclusively. Jill has been designing my millinery for many years now and we get along so well together, both professionally and personally. As well as being an exceptionally talented milliner, Jill continues to wow me with her ability to innovate and push the boundaries with her unique pieces.
What trends do you see on the rise for next year?
I believe boaters and crowns are definitely on the way out, making way for bigger brims and more sculptural pieces. Fashions on the Field has been taken to a whole new level since I started competing in 2009, so unique looks will be favoured amongst the judges.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I love High End designer fashion, so I keep a close eye on international runway shows. I also look out for up and coming designers as they often come up with completely unique looks. Ultimately, I wear what I love as I believe unique style is what FOTF is all about. I make many sacrifices to buy my Fashions on the Field outfits, but have invested in some pieces I truly adore.
What is something you would like milliners know about FOTF and the headwear they create?
Milliners are artists so I believe should have full creative control over the headpieces they create. My biggest advice is to learn many new techniques from the experts, but then use this to come up with your own style and designs.
What is your favourite outfit you have worn to FOTF?
My favourite outfit changes year to year, but my current favourite is my Magic Millions 2017 outfit with Millinery and roses on my bag by Jill & Jack Millinery & outfit by Toni Maticevski. This outfit took months of preparation and believe it or not, the hardest decision was my shoes, which ended up being a pair of Clarita’s by Alexandre Birman.
What do you like or dislike seeing on Fashions on the field?
I particularly dislike seeing entrants who wear cheap knockoffs of designer outfits, bags and millinery. Designers get no benefit from people who are blatantly knocking off their intellectual property, so support the original! I am also turned off by seeing the same look repeated many different ways e.g. the high/low hem skirt.
Advice for budding FOTF entrants?
I believe a great idea for budding FOTF entrants is to join one of the many FOTF Facebook groups and/or Instagram pages out there in order to see styles that are trending. Set a budget and stick to it. Don’t be tempted to copy outfits or millinery as the FOTF world is small and direct copies and knockoff’s are no no’s. Be unique and wear styles that suit your body shape and most of all that you love. Even if you don’t win or make a final, you will still be happy with what you are wearing. Don’t be shy and try to make a new friend at each event as we are all friendly people and we’d love to meet you!