A BRISBANE-BASED paralegal, who has been the subject of a hurtful social media campaign, has won the national final of the Fashions on the Field competition.
Amy Robson, who represented New South Wales in the final at Oaks Day on Thursday, after winning a lead-up event in Sydney, has been targeted on social media in recent weeks, including on a Facebook page, alleging she was acting as a model for her grandmother whose hats are sold commercially.
Under competition rules, for a prize pool of more than $400,000, entrants are forbidden from entering on behalf of a third party, such as a milliner or designer, or to promote a brand or designer.
Oaks Day Fashions on the Field
The winner of Fashions on the Field 2012, Amy Robson. Photo: Justin McManus
Ms Robson and her grandmother, Sandra Robson, have denied the allegations and The Age understands a legal letter was sent to the creator of the Facebook page, which has since been removed.
Last month, Sandra Robson said the allegations were ''unfortunate''.
''I am not a professional designer and only sell two or three hats a year to cover costs,'' she said.
Fashions on the Field winner Amy Robson. Photo: Justin McManus
Yesterday, Ms Robson, who wore a printed, pencil dress with a neon green beaded peplum and a matching neon green and black headpiece, both designed by her grandmother, was trying to put the controversy behind her.
''That's all in the past now. I've just come down here and had a really good time,'' said the 22-year-old, who won a new car, among other prizes.
However, Melbourne designer, Helen Manuell, who has long been calling for the Victoria Racing Club to ban professionals from entering the public competition, said the choice of winner was ''disappointing''.
Ms Manuell, who entered the Design Award, for professional designers, on Melbourne Cup day, said: ''That outfit is of a professional standard and it should be in the professional category … The VRC needs to do something to give the public a fairer playing field.''
Ms Manuell also pointed out that yesterday's winner of the Victoria final, Amanda Macor, also sells her hats commercially and is believed to have previously entered the Millinery Award for professional milliners.
The VRC denied suggestions the rules needed to be changed.
''Myer Fashions on the Field has very clear guidelines to ensure the integrity of the competition … the terms and conditions are enforced where deemed appropriate,'' a spokeswoman said.
She added that the rules did not ''prohibit any contestant wearing clothing or millinery made by commercial designers, themselves or hobbyists'' as long as they are not paid, are not entering on their behalf, or promoting a particular designer.
There was less controversy in the Millinery Award for professional milliners, which was won by Box Hill North milliner Lynnette Lim, from Love Lotus. Her winning headpiece, worn by Lauren Corbett, was a red and white geometric striped, disc-shaped headpiece made from silk yarn.
Ms Lim only finished her winning creation at 7am after a sleepless night.
''It took me about 100 hours to create. So it was a lot of work, but it is worth it now,'' she said.