Two Bag Queen bags featured in the Newspaper!

They'll spend hours getting ready and when they're done, people notice.
So what exactly are these tribes telling us?

Racetrack Fashionistocrats

Carle Rutledge ( WINNER OF # MYER FOTF 2018) loves gloves and proper hats and longish skirts that flutter elegantly or swish-swish as she walks in her flatteringly high heels. On most average streets and days, her hyper-glamorous ensembles might draw ego-lacerating looks, such is the public's typical intolerance for sartorial radicals. "People would think I was mad," she agrees.

From left: Peta Bell wears Alice McCall skirt and blouse, Marla Millinery hat, vintage scarf, Lovisa earrings and vintage shoes. Angela Menz wears her own designed and made dress and hat, assorted neck pieces from her archive, Bionda Castana shoes and Cotton On sunglasses. Elis Crewes wears Hartono Gan (Indonesia) dress, Taboo Millinery headpiece and earrings, and YSL shoes. Caitrin Kelly wears Felicity Northeast Millinery hat, Fiona’s of Mornington dress, Bag Queen clutch and Carvela shoes. Carle Rutledge wears Roksanda dress, own designed and crafted hat, MNG shoes, Mimco jewellery and Bag Queen clutch.CREDIT: SIMON SCHLUTER

But on race days, specifically gala days during Spring Racing Carnival, Rutledge is just one peacock in a flock of many gobsmackingly glamorous peacocks on their way to the Fashions on the Field (FotF) competition enclosure.

They are the serial entrants for whom one more catwalk, one more winning sash, one more backstage face-to-face catch-up with their social media-connected tribe is never enough. They drive and fly to racewear competitions around the country, all year. They wrangle hatboxes and garment bags into car boots and overhead lockers, and their radars are perpetually pinging for a bathroom to change in. "I'm terrified this could die out one day," Rutledge worries. "It just brings so much joy."

I was in this crazy outfit, massive hat, basically an explosion of ribbons, totally over the top, but I got a place. It was so exciting!

Angela Menz

It's unlikely that will happen. Like so many fashion tribes, Racetrack Fashionistocrats evolved out of a collective longing for something lost. Definitions of femininity have altered dramatically in recent decades and these racewear enthusiasts mourn the shift away from classic archetypes. So on weekends, they do ladylike glamour like a 1950s movie siren, but modernised for trends and creatively skewed to their individual tastes. The results are invariably lovely.

"I remember my first [major FotF) in Sydney," says Angela Menz, a familiar spectacle on the country, regional, interstate and even international FotF circuits since 2006. "I was in this crazy outfit, massive hat, basically an explosion of ribbons, totally over the top, but I got a place. It was so exciting!" And she was hooked. By 2011, Menz was a serial entrant in her mostly home-made ensembles and won the Myer FotF national competition, with a car among its stonkingly rich pool of prizes.

Sashes and and prizes, however, are not the main game. For many, such as Indonesian-Australian Elis Crewes, who entered her first FotF in 2001, the tribe is spirit-lifting and life-changing. "It keeps me going," she says. "It makes me not lonely. I miss my mum and brothers; I have no family here, but I have fashion. I love fashion. Fashion keeps me here."

Full Article view on ' THE AGE '  
By Janice Breen Burns
9 NOVEMBER 2018

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