Could Fashions on the Field — that Derby Day staple and the heart of fashion democracy — have been hijacked by corporates?

Viewers tuning into the male competition (Saturday, Channel 7, around 4.30pm) may have noticed a strange sequence of events.

In a field of dapper gentlemen, the trophy (and the SAAB) was awarded to Kwame Owuse-Atriyie, appearing in a grey Peter Jackson suit and burgundy pinstripe Gucci shirt and tie, according to the Herald Sun. It was his third year entering the competition; he also won in 2005.

Of the winner, US rent-a-queen Carson Kressley said: “I think the judges just loved it because today is Derby Day and it was all about classic and he was keeping in the gray tones and then he just did a kind of haberdashery look with the shirt and tie.”

Owuse-Atriyie said he’d paid $1,500 for the outfit and that he was a business student who worked in retail. In an interview with Sonia Kruger, he called the competition “just a bit of fun”. (For Part I & II of the event, click here and here)

What Owuse-Atriyie didn’t mention is that he seemingly appears in a spring racing carnival ad for Peter Jackson (view here), an ad that aired on Channel 7 straight after the announcement that he’d won the prize. Presumably the station had the ad lined up in case Peter Jackson got the guernsey… made easy by the fact that the competition itself had taken place about four hours earlier. 

Apart from a slight feeling that something is whiffy, have any rules actually been breached? Well… questions are at the very least raised by the competition’s contestant criteria which state that: 

  • Contestants and/or their outfits are not permitted to have any commercial agenda.
  • Contestants must not receive any compensation from a third party for entering.

Peter Jackson’s media spokesman wasn’t available to discuss the issue. Channel 7 referred us to a Victorian Racing Club PR contact but it was the Melbourne Cup Parade this morning and therefore not ideal timing to investigate.

UPDATE: Amber Sheldon, Manager of PR for VRC, told us that “Kwame entered the MYER Fashions on the Field of his own accord and purchased his outfit. All of our contestants sign a form to state that they have not received payment or compensation from a third party for entering this competition. The Peter Jackson ad probably would have aired at the same time even if the winner was wearing Gucci.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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