I’m feeling very lucky as I feel I am living some of my dreams right now.
This year at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, I met a stunning, tall, gorgeous girl with a beautiful, welcoming smile. I initially greeted her because I admired her dress from afar, and made a bee line to her to compliment her on her standout appearance.
As an aside, I always try to do this when I see women who are beautifully dressed anywhere, as I have always seen great importance in uplifting each other in any way we can.
Anyhow, as we started chatting, the gorgeous young woman, who told me her name was Alice surprised me by telling me she was not a fashion designer. Why was I surprised you might ask? Well, because I was at Fashion Week. Right? That’s usually where you find them. Alice told me she had made the dress she was wearing which was drop dead gorgeous, and that she made all her dresses for events. What events I asked?
Over the course of the year, a Myer, Fashions on the Field winner is selected from each state in Australia. During the Melbourne Cup Carnival, a Myer Fashion on the Field winner is selected from literally hundreds of participants, on Melbourne Cup Day, Derby Day, and Oaks Day. The winner becomes the official Victorian representative and then competes for the national crown.
Alice was Tasmania’s winner in February 2016 at The Hobart Cup.
All of the girls who are winners in their own states compete against one another to become the national winner of Myer’s Fashions on the Field, which is celebrated every year on Crown Oaks Day. This is the final day, at least for the fashionistas, during the Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington.
The finalists this year were Alice Bright (Tas), Courtney Moore (SA), Ashleigh Ridgeway (WA), Gracyn Marsterson (VIC), Regina Thei (NSW) and Inessa McIntyre (QLD). First place went to Courtney Moore, second place to Gracyn Marsterson, and third place to Alice Bright.
Alice Bright is a woman blessed with the perfect surname. She indeed has the “brightest” of futures, which will gloriously match her friendly smile.
Of course, being the insatiable fashionista that I am, I wait with great anticipation for the “Alice Bright” fashion label … another story, for another day.
For now let’s focus on her most recent amazingness.
Here is her story …
Congratulations! On your recent successes! How did you first come to be involved with Myer Fashions on the Field?
Thank you so much, it was such an amazing experience and I’m feeling very honoured to have received third place in the national final of Myer Fashions on the Field at Flemington Racecourse.
I started entering Fashions on the Field events when I lived in Launceston, Tasmania back in 2007. My first success came with second place in the Launceston Cup, Fashions on the Field.
This was the first outfit I designed and made to enter Fashions on the Field and looking back, a catalyst for why I am as passionate as am now. I had a little break from 2007 – 2011 and my second moment of significance came when I finished in the top 10 in Myer FOTF on Derby Day 2012. This was a very special moment for me as I designed and made this dress & headpiece with my mum. Similar to my first experience this success gave me the motivation I needed to keep designing and keep entering Myer FOTF.
As a Tasmanian, what is the racing and fashion scene like there?
The fashion and racing scene is fabulous. Great country racing with a high standard of fashion from not only the locals but women all over the country. A lot of ladies travel down to the Hobart and Launceston Cups to compete in the Fashion events and it does have a higher level of intimacy than some of the larger meets which I do enjoy.
I believe you were the Tasmanian winner … what did that entail?
I decided to fly down to Hobart for the cup about one month prior so I was cutting it fine.
I had always wanted to attend and felt that this year it was my time.
I originally started making a bright yellow off the shoulder dress, though I just didn’t have a good feeling about it from the start so decided to scrap it & start over.
The blue lace fabric of the dress which turned out to be my winning outfit, I actually found in the kitchen cupboard. I had the idea of choosing all of my favourite parts of the past spring carnival (2015) dresses and put them into one to make my ultimate spring racing dress.
In terms of the process, I dyed the fabric that lines the lace blue to match and make the dress the vibrant blue that it is. I bought the gorgeous gold Allport Millinery percher and Sophie created a clip with blue roses and leaves to match the dress. I tied this all in with gold Sam Edelman pumps, a blue Olga Berg clutch with gold clasp and Swarovski earrings and bracelet. The jewellery was a gift from my best friend. Winning this was such an amazing moment and I was extremely grateful and humbled.
When was that and against whom were you competing?
The Hobart Cup was back in February 2016. There was a combination of Tasmanian locals and competitors from around Australia. You will often see familiar faces at all FOTF competitions as it is so much fun competing and for me I really enjoy developing some long lasting friendships along the way.
Is this your first year or have you participated before now?
It was my first time participating in the Hobart Cup Myer FOTF though as I mentioned above I have been entering for a while now. It was such a dream come true to win in Hobart and then go on to experience what can only be described as a trip of a lifetime for the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
For me it is interesting to look back on my designs and techniques to see how far I have come.
Competing in Myer FOTF has brought out my creative best and I thank FOTF for being a vehicle through which I can wear and share my designs on stage and to the public.
You amazingly create your own outfits even though you have not yet launched your career as a fashion designer? Who taught you to sew?
Yes, I create all my outfits for the races and other fashion events.
Not technically a fashion designer. Yet! It is definitely a dream of mine to release a collection at some point in the future.
My beautiful mum taught me to sew and I had the passion from a very young age. I was always creating something. Drawing, designing cards, knitting, cross stitch, to making my own dolls and dolls clothes. I started with hand sewing everything and moved onto the sewing machine when I was old enough. Textiles was my major at university and I also completed a pattern making course at RMIT a few years ago.
How long does it take you to make each different outfit?
It varies and often depends when my deadline is & how clear my vision is at the time.
I work full time so I work on my dresses in the evenings and on weekends (so there’s often a lot of sacrifices on the lead up to racing carnivals).
My winning Hobart Cup / National third place dress took me about 10 days once I had decided on the design. I combined my favourite design aspects from each spring racing dress I had already designed and was subsequently able to reuse and combine pattern pieces I had already made.
Sometimes if I am working through an innovative new look it can take me up to 4 weeks (of my evenings and weekends).
Sometimes, entire weekends are spent playing around with the fabric and the design as I continue to develop my design on the mannequin. I often put pressure on myself at the end of the weekend as I feel I don’t have enough to show for all my work but then remember I’ve created a design and a plan.
Do you find that you are the one of the only racegoers who make their outfits?
There are definitely some other talented ladies that compete in their own dresses however I believe it is the minority. I rate that ability very highly, however I think it is also important to recognise the ability required to put together pieces that you haven’t designed.
It’s all fashion and talent in my mind.
What comes first? The choice of fabric, dress or hat?
I think the first point of call is definitely the design and the overall look you are going for. Naturally the fabric can influence both the dress and millinery.
From a more tangible perspective I think it is important to get the dress perfect first and then develop accessories to match. This includes the millinery. For me, I find it best to work with the milliner to create a custom piece inspired by the dress.
How do you decide which milliner’s work you are going to use? There appear to be so many wonderful options to choose from at the moment?
There are so many wonderful milliners around and Instagram is such an amazing platform for them. In saying that, my milliner has been the same for over a year now. Sophie Allport from Allport Millinery. I first started buying her pre designed collection pieces from her online store and she made some custom additions where required to make them match my dresses perfectly. This spring carnival I was lucky enough to have all my pieces custom made and designed to perfectly match my dresses. The piece of hers I wore in my National final outfit was of course a huge contributor to the outfits success. I am so grateful for that.
Describe the excitement of Melbourne Cup in your capacity as one of the potential winners of Myer Fashions on the Field.
It was an absolute dream come true to represent my home state in the National FOTF final.
The trip involved return flights for 2 to Melbourne staying at the luxurious Sofitel On Collins for ten nights. There was a jam packed itinerary for myself and the other state finalists with the big National FOTF final on the very last day, Crown Oaks Day.
We had photo shoots, the Myer Fashions on the Field launch, Derby Day, inclusion in the Melbourne Cup Parade, Melbourne Cup reception at Government house, Melbourne Cup day, Oaks Day luncheon and Oaks Day.
We were all very emotional on the final day.
All the finalists became so incredibly close. There was a mix of great excitement but also sadness that it would all soon be over.
It was such an incredible feeling hearing my name announced for third place.
All my hard work over the last few years had paid off, and I couldn’t believe it.
When the winner was announced (SA) there were tears of happiness on stage with all the finalists. It was a very special moment and something I will never forget.
Do you mostly see outfits that you love on the field, or do you sometimes wonder? …
Oh I love them all!
I always think that if the ladies look happy and confident in what they are wearing then they can pull anything off!
What is the process of deciding “what” to wear, especially as one who is under the scrutiny of the public eye?
Well I guess I am lucky. I am able to make the exact outfit I want every time, so as long as I’m feeling confident in what I’m wearing and happy with my design, then public opinion doesn’t really worry me.
By the time I get to wear my dresses I’ve already spent a lot of time perfecting them until I’m in love and that’s enough for me.
Having said that though, if I don’t like it then I have no hesitation in scrapping it and starting all over again.
Have you experienced much hype and attention due to your win?
There has been enormous attention and compliments for which I am completely grateful. I feel honoured that people recognise my version of fashion and appreciate it.
Tangibly, I have had many people wanting to buy the dresses I have worn during the carnival which is so amazing and gives me confidence.
Who is your favourite milliner in Australia? Overseas?
Allport Millinery has played such an important part in my FOTF journey and she is definitely my favourite.
Philip Treacy of course. He’s amazing.
But Australia has amazing milliners … Kim Wiebenga, Jill Humphries, Viktoria Novak, Moore Millinery Designs and Allport Millinery.
Who is your favourite fashion designer in Australia? Overseas?
Toni Maticevski is such an inspiration to me. He is undoubtedly my favourite Aussie designer.
The work of all the major fashion houses inspire me so it’s hard for me to select one designer as my favourite.
At the moment I am loving recent collections from Chanel, Erdem, Peter Pilotto, and Christian Dior.
When you are sooo adept at making the most beautiful garments, why haven’t you yet launched the “Alice Bright Label”?
It is definitely a dream of mine however I think it is all about timing.
I have no doubt that this is something I want to do. I have such a clear vision about the image and quality of what I wish to create, but this also means that it is something I can’t rush into.
All the experiences I am accumulating at the moment are the perfect training ground to releasing a collection one day.
Where did this interest in fashion and racing come from?
I have always had an interest in fashion since I was young.
I have always seen the fashion associated with racing as a great way to express creativity through my designs as it embodies a very unique style. It allows me to be more creative and imaginative than what is possible at almost any other event.
This combined with a guaranteed fancy fun day at the races spent sipping on champagne with friends watching the horses!
What’s not to love!
I am a member of both the Victorian Racing Club and the Australian Turf Club so I do actually go to enjoy the horse racing and horses as well.
What’s next for Alice?
I am so motivated at the moment!
I have had a great year with the Myer FOTF events and the feedback I have received from everyone across the country has been amazing.
I think my initial goals will be to continue to develop designs and increase my personal blog activity.
From there I would like to release a capsule collection and see how it goes.
I would dearly love to continue my experience in presenting and judging at country race events and ultimately spend as much time around like-minded people.
I understand you are not living in Tasmania anymore. Do you miss home?
Yes I do miss home. Every time I go back to visit I fall in love with it all over again. I grew up in a small town just out of Hobart called New Norfolk. Mid way through high school I went to boarding school in Launceston as my family moved to a coastal town in the north of the state near Devonport. I am lucky to have experienced living in many parts of the state. My Mum and Dad are the only family that still live there.
What do you love about Tassie?
I love that it’s so untouched. The beaches are just magnificent and you can easily find one to yourself at any time of the year. Last Christmas I went for a run on a bush track along the beach. There were butterflies flying with me as I ran; wallabies and kangaroos watching empty little beaches and no one else around. It was a pretty amazing experience … why I love Tassie so much.
Where would you like to see yourself in five years time?
2016 has honestly been one of the most successful years of my life. I am really excited to keep building on that. I want to continue what I am doing and most importantly improving my fashion expertise.
I would love to have a well known label sold across the country.
That would be very cool.
I personally believe in wholly and solely embracing one’s dreams. What is your greatest dream?
I’m feeling very lucky as I feel I am living some of my dreams right now. I couldn’t have asked for a better year and seeing my work being recognised is very humbling.
With that said, I am just going to keep on doing what I’m doing!
If you would like to follow Alice …
Alice Bright Instagram | Alice Bright Facebook | Alice Bright Twitter | Blog| Website
and the other winners …
Alice Bright | Courtney Moore | Gracyn Marsterson | Ashleigh Ridgeway| Regina Thei
Ellery | Alice McCall | Sonlia Fashions | Nine West | Olga Berg | Sam Edelman | Wanted Shoes | Colette by Colette Hayman
Featured Image for article | Credit | Wendell Levi Teodoro |
Ryan Pike Instagram | Wendell Levi Teodoro | Mike Chang | Sam Rosewarne
Allport Millinery | Moore Millinery Designs | Narelle Fowler Millinery | Anita Carr Design |
Until next time,