Broadmeadows "femiman" model Andrej Pejic arrived at Flemington's Birdcage without the highly anticipated Princess Beatrice tribute hat by milliner Kerrie Stanley after Irish milliner Philip Treacy, the VRC's international style ambassador, objected to his famous hat being imitated.
The Victoria Racing Club's CEO, Dale Monteith, requested the hat not be worn to prevent offending "special guests" at Flemington. "The VRC was made aware that Andrej Pejic was considering attending in a tribute outfit,'' he said. ''It was thought that this may have offended special guests at Flemington this week. The VRC approached Swisse, which readily agreed to an alternative ensemble."
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Stanley was told on Wednesday at 9pm by vitamin company Swisse that there was a "change of brief" and the tribute hat could not be worn into its marquee on "millionaire's row".
Pejic, a hit in New York and international catwalks for his feminine beauty, wore a substitute hot-pink hat that Stanley made and was unaware that Treacy and the VRC did not want the tribute hat being worn. Being someone who likes a joke, here's his reason for not wearing the hat:
"I see it as a symbol of a vagina, so I'm saving it for my wedding day."
He added that several sheikhs had asked for his hand in marriage.
The apparent banning of the hat and the censorship of another milliner's work is puzzling given Stanley's tribute hat did not mock the Beatrice hat, which the princess wore to the royal wedding of her cousin, Prince William and Kate Middleton last year and has been likened to everything from a pretzel to a uterus and an antenna. The hat was even Photoshopped on to the head of the Queen, Osama bin Laden and Donald Trump.
Stanley said her version was "sculptural" and honoured the brilliant work of Treacy. "I'd hate to think that he would be upset with me," she said.
Stanley, a talented and respected milliner, was commissioned by Swisse some time ago to make the hat and fashion designer Arthur Galan was asked to make a tribute outfit, a light pink suit. Pejic wore the trousers but couldn't wear the jacket because he spilt a drink on it, replacing it with another jacket.
Stanley was pleased that Pejic still wore one of her designs, dismissing the controversy by saying: "He's still wearing a beautiful hat." After being told the tribute hat could not be worn, she dismantled it and used the parts for other hats.
Pejic's manager from Chadwick Models, Matthew Anderson, said about the hat switch: "We wanted to keep the peace."
Treacy's close friend Christine Barro, the fashionista who runs Christine's salon in Flinders Lane, agreed that the hat shouldn't have been worn, saying it was in "awfully bad taste" and an insult to Treacy, the royals and Pejic.
"When I read about the tribute hat, I was a bit speechless – I didn't know what to say. I thought 'How weird is that?' I was sort of in shock."
Barro said Pejic was a "gorgeous boy" who should express himself in other ways. "Wouldn't it be nice if he's his own style."
Yesterday, Treacy judged finals of Myer's Fashions on the Field with Jennifer Hawkins, Sass & Bide designers Heidi Middleton and Sarah-Jane Clarke, Chiara Passerini, the wife of cyclist Cadel Evans, and Fashions on the Field ambassador Alison Saville.
When asked about the Beatrice hat last week, Treacy said: "I just thought I was making a hat with a bow on it."