Allison is a digital reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times

Supreme award winner all smiles

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Supreme winner Carena West's dress would brighten any day. Photo / Andrew Warner
Supreme winner Carena West's dress would brighten any day. Photo / Andrew Warner

One look at the standard of outfits at the Shiseido Fashion in the Fields and it was a sure bet the competition would be fierce.

The gorgeous dresses, hats and accessories on show at Bayleys International Raceday 2016 at Tauranga racecourse on Saturday made it a tough day for judges.

Whangamata woman Carena West, 29, took out the Supreme Award and was also the category winner for the Bernina Design Award for her self-made dress.

Judged on style, originality, attention-to-detail and appropriateness of outfit for a race day, Ms West's bright yellow ensemble won the judges over.

A swimsuit designer by trade, Ms West enjoyed the chance to design and sew an outfit for the races. It took her about nine hours, she said.

Winning the Supreme Award was an "ecstatic" moment for Ms West, visible in her beaming smile and fist pumps she made while walking to receive her sash and prizes on stage.

Prizes included a new Bernina sewing machine, just in time for Ms West, as hers was starting to make "weird noises" and she "really needed a new one". She has also won a trip for two to Brisbane, to represent New Zealand at the Indooroopilly Shopping Centre Fashions in the Field, a bonus for Ms West as her birthday was one week before the trip. Her secret to looking good? "If you feel fabulous in an outfit, you'll look fabulous."

After Hours Eventwear Women's Classic Racewear winner, 36-year-old Stacey Hanley, was there with the whole family to support her.

Classic Racewear winner Stacey Hanley and her children, Emma, 12, Grace, 8, and Ryan, 6. Photo / Andrew Warner
Classic Racewear winner Stacey Hanley and her children, Emma, 12, Grace, 8, and Ryan, 6. Photo / Andrew Warner

Her "unexpected but great" win would not have been possible if not for her daughters, she said.

"They helped me make the final decision on my dress. It was between three dresses and they said 'Mum, it has to be this one'."

Her daughters Emma, 12, and Grace, 8, were right, as Mrs Hanley won for the first time here in Tauranga with a full skirted dress with deep-sided pockets and pleats.

Winner of the After Hours Eventwear Women's High Fashion category was 22-year-old Laura Campbell, who wore a laser cut leather upper with an A-line skirt, black and mint accessories and a butterfly fascinator.

The judges, L'Oreal New Zealand ambassador Jason Davies of Adoux Hair, indulge magazine editor Annemarie Quill from the Bay of Plenty Times and Papamoa lawyer Talia Marshall, agreed it was an extremely close competition this year, though they came to their decision through careful but peaceful negotiations.

Mr Davies said the standard of dress was exceptionally high this year. "We look at the overall outfit, then look into the detail. Each competitor has put a lot of time into the outfit so we take it very seriously," he said.

Ms Marshall was no stranger to the racing fashion circuit having beaten Auckland's elite at last year's Boxing Day Fashions in the Field event in Ellerslie taking out the title of Supreme Award winner.

She said although it was more relaxing being a judge than a competitor, it was hard to choose as many outfits caught the judges' eyes.

Ms Quill said Ms West's yellow outfit had appealed to all the judges for its attention to detail such as the cut-out back and the interesting fabric "and the yellow popped - perfect for Easter".

- Bay of Plenty Times

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