International eyes on Grafton
IT MIGHT have been a chilly start to the Grafton Toyota South Grafton Cup, but few women looking to take up the coveted Optus Lady of the Carnival sash could be deterred from dressing in their finest.
However, this year was slightly different. Stars from the international Fashions on the Field circuit visited at the weekend, hoping to add another sash to their collection, but also use the annual event to get a feel for regional competitions.
And it's all thanks to Grafton's Sharlmane Gold for putting Grafton on their radar for this years Grafton Shopping World Fashions on the Field.
"I had never ventured outside of the Coffs Harbour and Grafton fashions until I finally decided to try places like Ballina and the Gold Coast," Ms Gold said.
"Those competitions opened my eyes to what we could bring to Grafton."
Ms Gold said she was still only new to carnival fashion, with her debut in 2015 at Westlawn Day.
From there, she realised the potential of bringing Grafton into the international fashion spotlight and got to work promoting the area through social media.
"By doing a massive campaign and visiting the international circuit, meeting the ladies and making such a splash with my campaign, they're now here for the first time ever at our Grafton event and are all watching our events this year," she said.
One woman from the international competition was Alla Dimech, who recently took out Best Dressed in the Dubai World Cup 2018.
"It was an incredible experience and an honour to win," she said.
Mrs Dimech said she had a passion for homemade fashion.
"I love creating, and spending as much time as I can on making my own hats and dresses," she said.
Ms Gold said her outfits can sometimes take up to four years to come together.
"For me, it's more than just the sash; it's about the fun along the way in creating my piece," she said.
"My shoes took 12 months to find in order to match my gloves, which are from Western Australia.
"I also have a really good support network here in Grafton, from Skincare Connection who did my makeup to Heir Affiti who came in on her Sunday to get me styled.
"Without them, I'd be lost!," Ms Gold said.