Carena West on fashions in the field, Aussie style

3 Nov 2021
Auckland Thoroughbred Racing

She wowed Australasian racewear fans when winning the 2019 edition of MYER Fashions on the Field at Flemington – the last time Victoria Racing Club’s famed Melbourne Cup Carnival fashion competition was held on a runway.

Carena is well-respected for owning her own great sense of style


But it wasn’t just then when our ambassador Carena West has turned up as Queen of the Style Stakes with the savvy entrepreneur constantly pushing the boundaries of racing fashion and inspiring those that love to follow her.

With Victoria Racing Club set to announce its virtual 2021 Fashions On Your Front Lawn winners as part of their Oaks Day tomorrow, we checked in with Carena to learn a little more about THAT winning moment, her racewear trend predictions and more.

When did you first compete in Melbourne?

I first competed in Melbourne at Derby Day in 2018. I managed to place second which was an incredible feat for my first visit at the Melbourne Cup Carnival. Unfortunately, I had to fly home the next day so I vowed to come back in 2019 and compete again.

Carena (right) where she placed second on Derby Day at Flemington in 2019


You went on to place PARTICULARLY well at your next visit – tell us about that.

When I returned in 2019, I placed third on Derby Day and was so chuffed! I couldn’t believe that I’d had two placings in two consecutive Melbourne Cup Derby Day competitions!

Carena back at Flemington again in 2019 where she placed third on Derby Day | Image c/-


I returned on Melbourne Cup Day and somehow clinched first prize, putting me in the running for the state final on Oaks Day.

On Oaks day I won the state final and, then up against the other state finalists, ended up winning the Grand Prize which is something I had obviously dreamed of, but never imagined actually winning!

Carena’s eye catching and winning Fashions on the Field look in 2019 | Image c/- Fabulous


Your outfits were all incredible but your grand prize one was just gorgeous – remind those who don’t know what you had it made from.

Carena’s original vintage embroidered Uzbek Suzani dress that she purchased from Etsy


My winning outfit was a dress that I had made out of a vintage embroidered Uzbek Suzani dress.

The finished look of Carena’s winning dress | Image c/- Fabulous

Were you going to head over to Melbourne this year, travel permitting and if so, in a competitor or spectator capacity?

I would have loved to return to Melbourne this year (and last year!) as a spectator. I think my competing days are over though, I like the idea of ending on a high!

What’s it like competing at Flemington? Are there any differences between the Australian racewear competition process and New Zealand’s?

Because there are so many people entering the Fashion on the Field competitions, the entry process is very formal and if you miss the cut-off, it’s “bad luck, try next year”.

I almost missed it in 2018 as my sister in law Sarah and I were stuck in traffic in an Uber! We had to jump out of the car and jog to the track, which did not add to my nerves one bit!

The detailing on Carena’s Derby Day 2019 outfit saw her stand out enough on stage to make third place | Image c/- Fabulous


Backstage it’s VERY nerve-wracking and feels very cut-throat (“If you don’t get through the heats, please exit stage right immediately” etc) but all of the competitors back there were so lovely and supportive of each other.

I think we all know how much work everyone has put in and there wasn’t a single outfit there that wasn’t polished and picture perfect!

Is there anything you felt you needed to do differently while in Melbourne in order to catch the judges’ eyes vs what you might do in New Zealand?

Nothing different per se, but I do think it’s more difficult to catch the judges’ eyes in Melbourne through the heats process – so, being able to capture their eyes with stage presence and confidence is extremely important.

Carena sure knows how to capture the eye of the judges | Image c/- Fabulous


You won’t get through heats based on outfit alone, because EVERYONE has a great outfit!

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