Angela and I used to have a rule when entering Fashions on the Field: it didn't necessarily matter if we won or lost (ok, it kind of did), but everything was fine as long as we got "papped".I'm sure this is painting us to be self-obsessed, scene-stealing, D-list wannabes, but one of our prime reasons for thinking in this manner was that we were both budding designers, and any press - however it came and wherever it was published - was going to be good for our future careers (and as it turns out, it definitely didn't hurt).During our years of media whoring, we learnt a subtle trick or two about how to be seen, photographed and published. So for those budding designers or D-list wannabes out there, we bring you the OTOT Guide to Getting Noticed*.
*NB: this guide has been written with tongue firmly in cheek and following its steps will not necessarily result in guaranteed media exposure.
1. Wear something crazy or very differentI like to call this the Menz Method to Media Success. For years, photographers, fashion editors and presenters have loved Angela because of what she wears, and how she wears it. A lot of the time it can only be considered as "full-on crazy sh*t" (birds on shoulders, poke-your-eyes-out hats, "Crazy Clown" chic), but what separates me and you from Angela is she owns it. She makes every bit of it work and never wears it ironically. So if you're brave enough to do this, make sure you wear your crazy shi*t with absolute confidence because this is not a step for wallflowers.2. Arrive earlyMost media outlets will have a publication deadline which is not unfortunately at 6pm when you get kicked out of the Nursery. And especially where TV is concerned, if it's pre-recorded it's generally happened well before broadcast has even started, to allow for editing time. In the UK where racing starts at 2pm, prime filming and photography time is between 11:30am and 12:30pm, but in Australia it will be even earlier than this thanks to the mid-morning race starts during Carnival time.3, Make the right entranceAnd by this we mean enter using the right gate. Sure, the east gate might be way closer to the train station, but it might be worth the trek to the west gate if that's where all the photographers are camped out. Especially at Royal Ascot - entering via the Royal Enclosure Garden and walking towards the throng of snappers at the main gate will not result in any attention if you don't walk through the gate itself.4. Arrive with someone better dressed than youTotally a tactic I employed at Royal Ascot last year when Angela attended for the first time. I had never been papped before at Ascot, but with Angela's bird shoulders by my side, we made no less than eight dailies on Day 1 and our photos continued to circulate for the rest of the week. We also scored The Big One - no, not a slot in the Daily Mail but a much-coveted interview with Gok Wan, who was presenting fashion for Channel 4.5. Arrive with someone better looking than youBut if you do want a spot in the Daily Mail, it pays to walk around the course with someone who's better looking than you, and is also a bit of a celebrity. Extra points if they've had a recent personal-but-tabloid-worthy "upheaval" and this is one of their first "public outings" since (even though they're actually working and are completely fine). Be prepared to be coaxed into posing unnaturally in set-up shots, and be referred to in the subsequent article by a range of different titles, most of which are way off the mark. (Disclaimer: this method was completely unintentionally applied for this article.)6. Arrive in a group i.e. the "Cheerleader Effect"Gaining prominence through an episode of How I Met Your Mother, the cheerleader effect describes a bunch of ordinary people who increase exponentially in hotness when seen together as a group. Now we're not saying you're all ugly or poorly dressed, but if your outfit can be described as "nice" rather than "outstanding", and your friends are all similarly dressed, you'll find you'll still gather a fair amount media attention if you stay in a group, and probably some nice photos to remember the day by.7. Learn how to poseAs Tyra Banks would say, know your angles! Photographers don't have all day to take a suitable picture, you'll need to work your magic in the space of a minute or two if you want your photo to be considered for publication. At the risk of sounding completely narcissistic, spend some time looking at yourself in the mirror in your outfit before you leave the house. What side should you stand on? How should you hold your hands? Does your jacket look better on or off? Can your face be seen behind your hat?And if the photographer tries to direct you, go with it. Sure, they may ask you to do some weird things, like stand on a table, perch in a rose bush or contort your non-gymnast body into unthinkable poses, but trust them - they know what it's going to look like better than you do.8. Learn how to regurgitate interesting stuff about racewear and racing at the drop of a hat (ahem, pun not intended)In the event of an interview (especially a live one), it pays to know exactly what you're wearing and be able to say something amusing or interesting about it. Stammering, long pauses and saying "um, I borrowed it from a friend" does not make for a good interview. However, giving a short anecdote like, "I borrowed it from my friend last night, I didn't have any xxx and then she suggested this, and it matched perfectly!" sounds much more interesting and draws the viewer in.It can also pay to know a little about racing - even if you're being interviewed about fashion - because I've seen many a fashion bunny caught in headlights when asked the simple question, "Do you have any tips for today?". Saying, "No, I'm just here for Fashions on the Field," will make you sound ignorant and will make at least half the audience groan and roll their eyes. The chance of a repeat interview is always higher if you have good all-round knowledge of racing, and not just racing fashion.9. Be nice to the photographersIf you're attending more than one day of a racing carnival, chances are you'll see the same photographers around. Take the time to get to know them - by this, we don't mean learn their girlfriend's/dogs'/parents' names, but a simple acknowledgement and exchange of pleasantries each time you see them will help commit you to memory. And if you do well with Step 7, they'll be more likely to snap you more regularly.However, do not be the tragic who openly flirts with the photographers - or worse, asks/begs them to take your photo. They see you, and they know what they need to shoot. All you'll succeed in doing is to annoy them and waste space on their memory cards - not make it to publication and certainly not encourage you to snap you in future.10. Make friends with the journalists and presentersSimilar to Step 9, you've more chance of a repeat interview if you're known by the journalists or presenters (and also if you can perform Step 8 well).In all seriousness, Angela and I have never gone out of our way to make friends with journalists/presenters just to get media coverage - they're generally people we have seen over the years on a fairly regular basis and gradually we've come to know them quite well. It should also be said there's a difference between being nice and sucking up, and journalists/presenters usually have pretty accurate bullsh*t detectors. You have been warned.11. Be prepared to make the Worst Dressed List or appear in a negative articleIt's important to remember all press is good press, especially when being published doesn't quite go to plan. Take the example of Angela's 2007 Derby Day outfit: I thought she looked great, but the Herald Sun rated her amongst their worst looks of the day.And in 2012, the Daily Mail wrote an article about the "dishevelled" and "messy" Melbourne Cup, which included about a dozen images of drunken, sloppy, skanky racegoers and a video of a girl throwing a punch at another. But below these hideous photos was a lovely, sober one of Angela with the caption "Bright and breezy: These colourful spectators managed to keep neat and tidy - all the better to show off their vivid creations", followed by sartorial photos of the Duchess of Cornwall. You simply had to scroll down far enough to find them.By Lisa Tan