A few words with Linke Mason in the lead up to the Echuca Cup

To organise a good FOTF is no mean feat… from sourcing prizes, to finding judges, to marketing and promoting the competition. Today I speak with Linke Mason from the Girly Girl Boutique in Echuca, about her involvement with this weekend’s upcoming fashions at the Echuca Cup Carnival.


Linke Mason

Linke Mason


EL: How did you come to be involved with running the Echuca FOTF?


LM: Shortly after we purchased Girly Girl, we explored the best ways to market our new business to the local trade. At the time, Girly Girl was mainly catering to the tourist market. Becoming involved with Echuca’s FOTF was just one of the ways that we thought to involve our business in the community. We both enjoy the excitement of planning and being involved in fashion events.


EL: What are you hoping to see on the FOTF stage style-wise?


LM: For the Echuca Cup Carnival this year we have included two categories for the ladies – Elegant Lady of the Day is for those with classic styling, grooming and deportment with all the FOTF styling expectations. Contemporary Lady of the Cay caters for those ladies who prefer to have a fashion edge, with individuality and flare. Entries for this category still have an expectation to follow FOTF styling, but in a more relaxed way. We hope that by including two completely different categories, this will open up the competition to anyone who wishes to enter and be in the running to win. We are also looking for a Stylish Young Lady who may encapsulate that of their older competitors, but are age appropriate. Stylish youth always has the cute factor. Aside from styling, it’s great to see them show their personality and confidence on stage. Stylish Gent is a new category which was in demand at Echuca’s last FOTF held on Melbourne Cup Day. The efforts and style of the men was outstanding, and we expect to see the same this time around. It’s great to see the men embrace the events criteria and get involved.


Contemporary look

Contemporary look


Elegant look

Elegant look


EL: Are there any trends you love or loath? What are your tips for embracing the Relaxed Racing vibe at the upcoming Echuca Cup races?


LM: We appreciate individual style and classic elegance, but also look for the well groomed ladies who know how to bring their look together. Confidence and deportment also play an important part of the stage, so we suggest that the contestants think about how they are going to present themselves.


FOTF in Echuca is a relatively casual affair and this sometimes means that you have some characters who turn up in less than tasteful outfits, with a plan to make fun of the event. Although this can be amusing for the spectators at times, this is not something we or the competitors would encourage. I wouldn’t say we loath it, but it isn’t respectful to those that have put in a lot of effort for the FOTF competition.


Our tips for those wanting to enter the ladies divisions would be – be yourself and bring your own sense of style and confidence. Remember that the way you present on the stage, is just as important as the effort you have put into finding the perfect outfit. Accessories such as handbags, gloves, shoes and headwear will all be part of the judging criteria, although in the Contemporary Lady of the day, this criteria is a little more relaxed, so you can leave your gloves at home.


Contemporary look

Contemporary look


Elegant look

Elegant look


EL: Tell me about the prizes and categories on offer next weekend and who will be judging?

LM: The categories are…
Elegant Lady of the Day ~ 18yrs+
Contemporary Lady of the Day ~ 18yrs+
Stylish Young Lady of the Day ~ 12-17yrs
Stylish Youth ~ 11yrs and under
Stylish Gent


Prizes are in excess of $1,000 in value and include prizes and vouchers from:
Girly Girl Boutique
Moama Bowling Club
Numanz Embroidery
Echuca Race Club
Riverport Florist
DeBortoli Wines
Shara Gillahan Melbourne


Judges are:
Linke Mason, Co-owner and Manager of Girly Girl Boutique
Brittany Kreskas, Girly Girl employee
Cassidy McGill, who recently placed 6th in the Miss Magnificent Pageant in America.


MC is Georgina Bish, a local singer/songwriter, also an employee at Girly Girl.


The Co-ordinator on the day is Wayne Mason, Co-owner and Manager of Girly Girl Boutique.


NB: All images from https://www.pinterest.com/girlygirlbo1230/race-day/

Milliner Profile: Sharon Wilson Millinery

I found myself Googling the other day (no shock here, I am aware). But the shock may come when I tell you I was Googling for millinery, millinery for S/S 2015 – we’re talking October, November race days… we’re talkin’ like 9 months away.

But look, if you’re a lover of millinery, racing and 9 month outfit preparation then you’ll totally get it – working out the design, the outfit, the intricate details of the impact you want to make come spring racing takes time. Hat’s don’t just (POOF!) appear, they are carefully, delicately (sometimes forcefully and painfully) brought together by the hands of the creative, daring milliners all-year-long.

I get such a thrill out of getting to meet the ladies and gents behind the needle and thread, and this lovely lady is no exception. Sharon Wilson is a talent milliner sweeping country racing fashion fields, but her journey to milliner you will find was not all silk and perfectly perforated leather.

How did Sharon Wilson Millinery begin? I understand you spent a lot of time and hard work travelling to gain your millinery qualification?

In 2012 I travelled to Geelong every Thursday to achieve my Certificate II in millinery. My teacher was Rebecca Share, a well known award winning milliner from Geelong. It was a hard year as I had to be on the road by 6am to be at class by 8am and the class finished at 5pm, then another 2 hours travel home. My children were 9 and 10 years old at the time and as my husband left for work about 7am. I had my mother come to our home and wait until they woke then helped Jye and Layla get organized and dropped to school. My husband’s parents then collected them from school at 3.30pm and looked after them till my husband got home at 4.30pm, so that worked out well. In August of that year I became seriously ill (basically overnight) with a blood infection. I spent 3 days in our emergency dept not knowing what was happening until I was flown to St Vincents in Melbourne where I spent another 10 days. Finally I was allowed home but I missed 6 weeks of classes until I was well enough to go back. I had to work extremely hard to catch up and I was devastated to have missed so much of this amazing experience. But, I graduated and I was very happy and proud to have achieved so much.

What is it about your millinery that makes your brand unique or stand out to the customer over other designers?

With my millinery I do tend to design more one off pieces, especially if I have a client come to me and they want a unique piece specifically designed. I use the fabrics texture, colour or pattern to tie it all together. I think if you like a bold, high or larger piece you will like my work and that makes my brand unique as well as the piece being my signature. Coming into each season I research what is coming through in fashion, style and colour, then I research what materials I am able to purchase to use in my headpieces. I then work on my headpiece designs drawing inspiration from the materials. I like to purchase a new block to add a new shape to my collection.

I understand you had a great win at the recent Woodford Cup – Congratulations – tell us about that outfit and headpiece?

Yes it’s always exciting to have a win; it’s very fulfilling to have your work rewarded. I actually only started the outfit and headpiece I wore 2 days before. Woodford Cup is only a few days after Christmas so it’s a little hard to be organized sooner as I also work part-time at Sportsgirl. I think I work best under pressure and I did have the fabric for the dress at least purchased a few weeks before, so I knew what I was working with and planned a little in my mind. Then it was just a matter of making the design and the headpiece. I used the flower design on the dress to make an oversized braid trim for the hat base.

Spring Racing 2015 will be here before we know it. What’s in store for you and your millinery in 2015? Every year we have our local May racing Carnival which is for 3 days and is massive for Warrnambool, so I put a lot of focus on the winter/autumn season. I love the fashion and fabrics from this season and using felt and leather as they are the perfect finishing touch to winter headwear and so beautiful to work with. With spring I do more research and then base my collection on what materials I can source to compliment.