Sadly, COVID-19 got in the way and instead, Laura will be joining the rest of us watching the fashion, racing and colour of 2021’s edition from the ‘sidelines’ here in New Zealand.
We had a chat to this best dressed lady about her experiences, trend predictions and more ahead of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
It was very early in my fashion in the field journey and I was out of my depth a bit (!), so I didn’t return home with a sash. However, I did come home with plenty of learnings which I credit with helping my success in this season just been.
I had four outfits in the works (all coloured!) that I was going to have to whittle down to two and then my Derby Day look was just at the sketches and ideas stage.
Aside from my Prix de Fashion-winning outfit (which I still love and was thinking of a few tweaks I could do to keep it fresh if I chose to re-wear it), my outfits all had bold silhouettes and shapes with a lot of detail that took hours to get right.
They are all still in the closet and one or two might still make the trip next year which has been able to be postponed thanks to the kindness of Victoria Racing Club.
There’s less time to be noticed in the heats in Melbourne with each girl in a heat (of 10) just taking a step or two forward for a few seconds before rejoining the line.
It’s great that in New Zealand all contestants get more of a runway moment where they can really put their best foot forward and show off all the different facets to their look.
Backstage it was pretty similar, with both environments being a really lovely, supportive place with girls touching up one another’s lipsticks and helping make sure everything is sitting perfectly.
In both countries, back stage is just girls helping one other shine which is awesome.
I think a strong outfit will catch the judges’ eyes wherever you compete, but given that in the Melbourne heats you don’t get a full catwalk, it’s important to make the most of every moment on stage, even when just standing at the back of it.
Millicent Zaria, I met her while I was over there and she is so lovely in person as well. I LOVE how she uses prints and colours.
I also really adore Tatiana Hoffmann (never met her but stalk on insta!) who makes most of her outfits herself and is so creative.
I love the strong colours and prints that are coming through in a lot of the finalists and in most states there’s two or three looks that I really love.
I’m not envious of the judges having to make their decisions!
In a photo competition you can really highlight the intricate details in your outfit or highlight an accessory by choosing your photos well.
It’s details like these that can be missed in a runway competition where the judges could be seated a few metres back from the catwalk.
I had over 100 photos to pick from in a variety of different poses and angles for my entry into The Ned Prix de Fashion.
Remember to really back your own individual style.
There are often more entrants in the major Australian competitions so if you are too caught up on trying to include all the trends or emulate somebody who has recently been successful, you risk looking very similar to another competitor.
I think New Zealand is definitely developing its own racewear style – we’re bold and not afraid to experiment with new shapes, trends and styles.
Feathers both as features of clothing or in the construction of headpieces have featured a lot in the state finalists which we haven’t seen a huge amount of here in New Zealand, so I think that might provide some inspiration to some kiwi fashionistas.
As always though, I’m sure us Kiwi girls will do it in our own way.
Personally, I’m starting to move on from strong sleeves – I know they’re still featuring in a lot of designers’ collections and while they are fun, after being a common feature in racing fashion for the last two years, I’m ready to see something new.
I’d like to see competitors play with hemlines. When a boxier, more conservative top half means you can be a bit shorter with your skirt – then I think go for it!
Also jumpsuits are under-utilised and can be a really fun modern twist.
I’ve been inspired by TV shows (Bridgerton and Yellowstone were the idea behind my Prix look), as well as using the lack of obvious trends as an opportunity to put together some “bucket list” outfits that might not ever be on trend per say, but that I’ve always wanted to wear.
Runway shows have also started again in Europe and there have been some amazing looks from the high fashion houses too.
Anything else you’d like to add about your experiences competing in Australia?
It’s an amazing experience to be at the Melbourne Cup and to compete so if you are thinking about it, I definitely encourage you to book the trip!
Don’t forget to get out and about as well and enjoy the amazing city that Melbourne is.
Add a few days on each side of the races and check what shows are on, find some cool restaurants and really get out and explore.