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Fashions - Derby Day

Mercedes magazine, Autumn 2004 issue

Boxing Day at Ellerslie Racecourse, Auckland is traditionally the day when New Zealand thoroughbred racing lets fashion show its sporting side.

The latest Mercedes Fashion-in-the-Field event lured 125 women and 28 men to parade their outfits before a crowd of 27,000.

Shimmering silks, dramatic complementary or clashing colour combinations, flowing feathers, cascading lace, daringly short mini skirts, formal suits, strapless gowns and long flowing dresses all took a twirl centre stage to catch the attention of the five judges.

But, it was the elegant black and white ensemble that won the premier prize and the much sought-after keys to the Mercedes-Benz C 180 K Sports coupe. This premier winner was very Ascot, very Mercedes.

The off-white French crepe with gold Lurex pinstriped suit featured a peplum of pleats to match the detailing on the sleeves.

The wide-brimmed hat was adorned with black and white fabric roses across the crown and a cluster nestled under the brim. Sling back shoes and slimline triangular handbag were dyed to match the crepe and gold gloves added the finishing touch.

The winner, Carey Garland, was "speechless" when she was chosen from a field of 18 finalists on the dais. But recovering later, the 19-year-old student says:
" I've always loved Mercedes, I think they are such elegant cars, but never thought I would be lucky enough to own one."

The suit and hat were made by Auckland haute couturier, Minh Ta, who was a Vietnamese refuge to New Zealand 20 years ago.

In the past eight years her outfits have taken winning ribbons in 10 fashions-in-the-field contests - in Melbourne and Auckland.

Minh Ta creations won a Mercedes A Class in 2000 and 2001 at Ellerslie.

And it was a Minh Ta black and white pinstriped dress, with asymmetrical hemline, that won the race wear title for Toni Vallance on Boxing Day.

Chief judge, and former event co-ordinator, Meegan Pollock-Johnston says the style of all entrants was amazing but not surprisingly as it is "every girl's wish to own a Mercedes."

The outrageous section attracts the weird and wonderful entries. Lisa Morrison wore a silver sheath and her arms were laden with designer shopping bags. Trailing behind was a cart carrying an artificial poodle, called "Gucci Poochi."

Auckland Racing Club chairman, Lyn Stevens, QC says the Club's new board was delighted to have the support of Mercedes.

"The focus on Derby Day is on fashion and high quality racing and we are privileged to have Mercedes involvement for both."

Susan is a co-founder of the Fashions-in-the-Field competition at Ellerslie and former chief judge of the event.


"Thank you for the shopping trip - so much less stressful than I had dared to hope and everything got the thumbs up from my husband and my daughter - whose surprise that you do know what you were talking about made me smile!

I love my handbag - just the right size and the strap is really comfortable.

I went shopping on my own today and understood why certain garments were not right. So instead of coming out feeling despondent and 'why can't I ever find anything?' - I knew what the problem was and felt confident that I would be able to find something that did look nice."

- Melanie, Castor Bay

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