ometimes an oversized hat and a gust of wind can get the better of even the most poised pageant queens.
“I pulled it forward and it looked like a taco,” Olivia Molly Rogers says with a laugh – this despite having been a regular at the track since she was a teenager, meaning that donning millinery is second nature to the 26-year-old. “You instantly feel like you’re at the races as soon as you chuck on a hat – it finishes off what you’re wearing,” she says.
The former Miss Universe Australia is in the midst of spring racing preparations for her new role as Victoria Racing Club’s Melbourne Cup Carnival ambassador.
“My grandparents have been coming for 40 odd years. They don’t miss a carnival, so it’s been in the family forever,” the Adelaide-raised, Melbourne-based speech pathologist says of her ties to the race that stops the nation.
“I feel like you can go more over-thetop than usual with your fashions. I love dressing up and I always love the races for that reason,” she says. “There’s a lot of preparation that goes into it – the tan, hair, make-up.”
“A hat instantly finishes off what you’re wearing”
And, of course, Rogers has a checklist at the ready for what to squeeze into a purse come race day. “A portable charger, a lipstick for touch-ups and comfortable shoes – you’re standing up a lot – and Band-aids,” she suggests.
While Rogers is used to being in front of the camera, it’s her fluffy Chow Chow puppy Ziggy who is the accidental star of her household. Since being crowned Miss Universe Australia 2017, much has changed for Rogers, not to mention Ziggy. “He keeps getting recognised from Instagram,” Rogers says.
“I think everyone gets this fear when you’re coming to the end of your reign that things are going to change but, if anything, I get to do more of what I was hoping to do.” Tickets for AAMI Victoria Derby Day on Saturday November 3, Lexus Melbourne Cup Day on Tuesday November 6, Kennedy Oaks Day on Thursday November 8 and Seppelt Wines Stakes Day on Saturday November 10 can be purchased at flemington.com.au.
Ask Saloan Cilia to describe the aesthetic of her label Salia Jac, and she’ll likely tell you it’s “romantic and rebellious”. That’s a neat way of summing up Cilia herself: romantic, holding principles of fairness, equality and ethical practice close to her heart; rebellious because she’s made those principles part of her work, disrupting the fashion industry along the way.
PRACTISING GOOD INTENTIONS
“I wanted to create a label that was on par with anything else in terms of style and quality, but came from an ethical foundation – using animal-free fibres and being supertransparent,” explains Cilia.
Anyone who purchases a Salia Jac piece can trace its provenance: from where the fabric was sourced, to the name of each person who had a hand in producing the garment. In a world of factory-made fast fashion, this level of transparency feels radical.
Growing up in the tiny town of Nymboida, in northern NSW, Cilia was always interested in fashion. Her 20s saw her in Norway, where she worked as a stylist and learnt the art of minimalism. On her return to Australia she studied fashion design at TAFE, and learnt about the dark side of the fashion industry, where profit is pursued at the expense of the environment and workers’ rights.
“I was blown away seeing what goes on behind the scenes,” Cilia says. She became determined to work as ethically as possible, producing everything in Australia so she knows everyone involved in the production process.
GOING A STEP FURTHER
Cilia has made other commitments to sustainability: her label is GOTS (global organic textile standard) certified and Peta-approved, while her workshop is plastic-free.
While she’s passionate about causes she holds dear, there’s also a gentleness to Cilia’s advocacy. “It can throw people off if you’re very hard-line,” she says. “I don’t want people to feel like they have to be all in or all out.”
Instead, she offers encouragement as she educates people on alternatives to the status quo. “My advice is to start small and focus on what’s important to you,” Cilia says.