Model Megan Gale wears a red dress and matching hat at the Caulfield Cup race day, at Caulfield race track, in Melbourne, in 2009.
Model Megan Gale wears a red dress and matching hat at the Caulfield Cup race day, at Caulfield race track, in Melbourne, in 2009. JOE CASTRO

Megan Gale shares trackside fashion tips

MODEL and businesswoman Megan Gale's proudest moments in the fashion world have been well-hidden secrets buried beneath the layers of make-up and thousand-dollar outfits. When her son, River, now aged two, is old enough to understand, Gale is going to tell him that in times of great personal loss and tragedy, she stepped onto a catwalk or looked into the bright lights behind a camera during filming and kept on going.

"There's so many things I've managed to cross off the list and things I've been so fortunate to work on and achieve over the years, but I think I wouldn't say to him 'oh look at this cover, Mummy did this, she's so proud'," Gale said.

 

Megan Gale poses for photographs in the Lavazza marquee at the Birdcage on Melbourne Cup Day, last year.
Megan Gale poses for photographs in the Lavazza marquee at the Birdcage on Melbourne Cup Day, last year. DAN HIMBRECHTS

"There's been times, because I have such a public job, I've been proud of myself when I've really had to suck up something personal or something that's going on that might be traumatic or quite hard to deal with.

"That's when you feel proud. Not when you've done a shoot for this brand, but when you've taken on a lot, done it very publicly, when you're dealing with stuff. And that's probably more what I would say to my son, 'when Mummy did that, this was going on'. It's digging deep, putting things to the side and being professional."

This inner fortitude has served Gale, 41, well during her 20-plus years in the fashion industry. Of Maori and English heritage, Gale did not fit the early-90s mould of what a supermodel should look like. As waif-like heroin chic became popular on catwalks across Europe and Australia, the 180cm tall model initially struggled for work.

 

Megan Gale in the Birdcage on Derby Day, in 2014.
Megan Gale in the Birdcage on Derby Day, in 2014.

She found her feet in Italy, though, where her career took off, and she has since diversified into swimwear fashion and built her brand internationally. She also is currently a judge on Australia's Next Top Model. Her sense of fashion remains nearly unchanged since the birth of her boy on May 13, 2014 with her partner, AFL player Shaun Hampson, 28.

"While motherhood changes you in a beautiful way and it definitely enriches your life and adds a whole other level of importance - priorities change - I'm a big believer in not losing your identity when you become a mum," Gale said.

"To a degree, as well, I've built a brand over the years so within that there's a certain kind of person that I represent. I think if you then start to change that, you're undoing everything you've built. I don't think that becoming a mum means you have to alter how you present yourself to people."

 

Megan Gale and Shaun Hampson at the Swiss marquee in the Birdcage on Derby Day at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, in 2014.
Megan Gale and Shaun Hampson at the Swiss marquee in the Birdcage on Derby Day at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, in 2014. TRACEY NEARMY

Gale said her clothing choices had only changed when she was doing activities with her son.

"There's probably times when I'd be a little more appropriately dressed for the park, but I've always loved being outdoors and being quite active and sporty so it's kind of an extension of what was already there," she said.

That is not to say her life has not changed since becoming a mother. Gale said it was hard to describe what a single day in her life would entail as every day was different.

She also had sage advice for race-goers to ensure they looked their best, whether they were attending the race that stops a nation or one of the hundreds of country races on throughout the season.

The bigger Melbourne Cup days, of course, have a few fashion rules that can also be applied during other race days.

"It's a classic sport that people are celebrating so you don't want to dress like you're going to a nightclub," Gale said.

"You don't have to dress too stitched-up or conservative, but elegant, chic and sophisticated - maybe more along those lines."

 

Model Megan Gale arrives at the David Jones marquee at Caulfield Racecourse on Caulfield Cup Day in Melbourne, Saturday, in 2011.
Model Megan Gale arrives at the David Jones marquee at Caulfield Racecourse on Caulfield Cup Day in Melbourne, Saturday, in 2011. JULIAN SMITH

Derby Day

Gale said it was best to stick to monochrome. But, in the famed lines of Michael Jackson, it don't matter if it's black or white.

"Traditionally with Derby Day you wear black and white. Or black or white, which I think is a great tradition and makes picking an outfit easier because you've got quite a strict dress code as well. I think it's really good to honour that."

Melbourne Cup

"I think ladies, once they've had their black and white day with Derby Day, lean towards a bit more colour so whether that's really bold colours, colour blocking, or a fantastic print, I think it's great to add a burst of colour for Melbourne Cup. That said, you don't want your look to get too busy so I think you either make the dress the statement and keep everything else quite minimal, being millinery, your accessories maybe even your hair and make-up. Or, you make a really big statement with your millinery and you keep your dress quite pared back. If you go mad on the hat, full hair and make-up, crazy dress, whopping big shoes - it might be overkill."

Shoes

"Don't wear a brand new pair of shoes to the races because you're on your feet all day. If you have bought a new pair walk around in them and break them in."

Millinery

"When you're thinking about millinery take into account your hair. A lot of girls get their hair done for the races, which is great, but a lot of people think 'I'll get my hair done and then I'll pop on my hat or fascinator' and then they realise they can't fit their hat over the hair they've had done."



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