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FASH­ION FOR­WARD

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Front Page -

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 PAINS

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.

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