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Andree Callaghan | Meet The Ned Prix de Fashion Qualifiers

Her day job sees her getting out and about visiting some of the most beautiful sights in Canterbury and yet, she's also had six years' experience getting out and experiencing some of racewear's most beautiful sights too.


We sat down with Andree Callaghan who qualified for The Ned Prix de Fashion after winning Otago Racing Club's competition where we got to learn more about this talented and crafty lady.

Andree showing us how to 'do' black and white in racewear.

We've had a few first-timers qualify for The Ned Prix de Fashion this year - are you among them or have you qualified in another season?


"This is my first time qualifying for The Ned Prix de Fashion and I am so honoured to be a regional finalist representing Otago Racing Club."

How long have you been entering fashions in the field competitions?

"I have been entering fashion competitions for about six years however, I only began to really understand how the competitions work, in terms of qualifying for the final, a couple of seasons ago.


"I remember talking to a fellow fashionista at Riccarton Park in November 2020 and she told me she wasn’t worried about not placing as she had already “qualified”.


"It was only then that it dawned on me that there was a grand final type competition to strive for!"


What do you enjoy most about fashions in the field competitions?


"I love so much about them.


"I love the process of pulling together an outfit. It’s like creating a work of art. I love getting ready and showcasing something I’m proud of. I love feeling like a celebrity at the races and getting lots of love from friends and people I’ve never met before. I love getting crafty and having repeat trips to craft stores. I love working on my millinery skills which I want to keep improving on. But most of all, I love how many beautiful friends I have made along the way over the past six years.


"I’m so lucky."

Just another of Andree's gorgeous raceday looks.

Outside of raceday fashion, do you like to dress up in your normal day-to-day life or is this an anomaly?


"I spend my week days in uniform – tan pants and a table cloth-like shirt – visiting farms.


"So, come the weekend, if I’m not in activewear, I do love to put together an outfit which reflects my style."


What do you do for a day job?

"I work for Ravensdown as an Agri Manager servicing customers between the Waimakariri and Hurunui rivers in North Canterbury.


"I absolutely love my job thanks to all my awesome farmer customers.


"I get some personal tours of some stunning countryside and it’s always entertaining working with such great characters every day."


This sound really interesting! Aside from the travel, great customers and getting the "personal tours", what would a workday look like for you?


"In a nutshell, I collect soil from certain paddocks on farm and send it off to our lab in Napier to be analysed. Then, when the results are back, I sit down with the farmer and recommend rates and timings of nutrients to be applied to grow the desired crops or grass whilst minimising potential for environmental impacts."

Andree in her office... anyone as envious as us?

Where you get your fashions in the field inspiration from?


"My Instagram feed seems to be full of inspiration! I follow milliners, fashion designers, pages such as ‘Itsallaboutthesash’, some Australian fashion competitors and fellow competitors and friends in New Zealand.


"I also enjoy browsing online stores and if something stands out to me I build an outfit around that."


Can you give us a hint about what you might be wearing for the regional final of The Ned Prix de Fashion ?


"I actually had the main components of my outfit saved on Etsy for a couple of years. I loved how the outfit looked on the model but I wasn’t sure if it was racewear-appropriate, hence my reluctance to purchase.


"After qualifying for The Ned Prix de Fashion I felt I needed to be brave and push the boundaries a little and go with something different.


"So, really, The Ned Prix de Fashion was the perfect opportunity to wear something I had been adoring for a couple of years and I like to follow that rule where if you can’t stop thinking about something, then, you probably really should have already bought it.


"I love that my competition outfit is very different to any of my previous racewear entries."


Do you follow horse racing as well, or is fashions in the field where it’s at for you on raceday?


"I love horses so it’s always a highlight for me seeing the horses in the birdcage and heading off to the track.

Conveniently, Andree is also an avid horse lover.

"I always put a few bets on but I’m usually pretty occupied with friends and fellow fashionistas so I struggle to concentrate enough to make any bets that actually pay dividends."


Do you consider yourself a trend setter or follower?

"I like to just create an outfit that I love and feel happy to wear. I don’t try to follow trends as I’m worried that by the time I actually wear my outfit, the trend may have already passed!"

What has been your favourite raceday look that you’ve worn?

"My favourite raceday look was my outfit for Riccarton Park in spring last year (2021).


"I decided I wanted something with ruffles, texture and some “life” to it in terms of movement. This resulted in multiple online searches for “ruffle skirt” or “ruffle dress” on Etsy, TradeMe, ASOS and The Iconic before a Google search brought up a Gradient Tiered Ruffle Tulle skirt from Chicwish, a site I hadn’t heard of before.


"Two months after making the purchase (no thanks to COVID-19 and shipping issues) I was immediately in love with what I pulled out of the courier bag. The quality was amazing and the skirt certainly had that fun factor.


"I was then on to searching online for an organza top and sequin camisole to pair with the skirt. I found the perfect textured organza top from ASOS, but, decided having sequins underneath was a little too much. Luckily my dressmaker, Carmen Sylver, had some great suggestions and she made me the top to go underneath with a sweet-heart neckline.

Ta da! The finished look (and how great a job did Andree do with the bag??).

"As for my accessories, my bag was a labour of love. I had found a photo on Etsy of a beautiful ostrich feather purse, but, at $355 I couldn’t quite justify it – I tried! As it turns out, all I needed though was a $20 bag and $20 worth of different coloured ostrich feathers from AliExpress. I glued the feathers on in layers to replicate the tiered layers of different coloured tulle on my skirt. I then used some nail polish to paint the previously gold metal on the bag silver to match my silver heels, belt and jewellery.


"My final purchase was my millinery. I was so lucky to find something online which matched so well! I loved that the feather on the hat tied in with the ostrich feathers on my bag and the almost feathery look of the layers of tulle on the skirt."


What advice would you give to people keen to start entering fashions in the field competitions but who aren’t quite sure where to start?

"If you’re considering entering a fashion competition at the races, I would really encourage you to do so. If you love shopping, it is such a fun process browsing online and in store to find the right pieces for your outfit.


"Although it can be very time-consuming, it all pays off on raceday when you’re excited to finally wear something you’ve been planning for months and you feel proud to showcase your final “look”.


"In my experience, the public really appreciate the effort you have gone to and you will end up getting a lot of love and compliments from people you have never met before. It makes for such a fun day!


"The other contestants are all very supportive and encouraging too, so, you’ll end up making lots of new friends. Each year that you compete you will learn more and more."

Andree (right) on course with a fellow FITF friend at Riccarton Park. Photo credit: Belinda Lansley Photography

Do you have any stories in the lead up to The Ned Prix de Fashion?


"I purchased a black and white hat from Etsy, however, the white wasn’t the right “white”. I ended up purchasing another white hat at a craft shop and removing the brim from that one and then popping it on top of my existing hat to cover the white part. My milliner was impressed when I sent her a photo! She hadn’t realised how I’d cheated though."

Complete this: To me, fashions in the field is…


"A very addictive, but rewarding and fun hobby.


"It’s great because you can participate as much or as little as you like. You can enter one competition a year or you can travel around the country and experience the hospitality and events put on by other racing clubs.


"It is a great way to meet new people and make new friends."

 

The Ned Prix de Fashion is New Zealand's national fashions in the field final and boasts a prize package in excess of $20,000 thanks to The Ned and the Victoria Racing Club. But most of all, one woman will walk away with that coveted sash and the title of being the country's best dressed racegoer for the season.




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