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Fashion on the Field



© Warren Fahey


In spite of a gloomy morning, the grand stand was early thronged with all the fashion and beauty and a good deal of the intelligence of the colonies. I never expect to see a finer sight in Australia. One above the other the tiers of seats were filled with the youth and loveliness of the land. Young and old, beautiful and – otherwise, they were all magnificently dressed, their garments elegant in themselves, and in many cases set off by the charming figures they covered. The present style of fashion does not go in for concealment; why should it?

There was really something morally exhilarating in being amongst a well-dressed throng; and I think that the consciousness of a faultless attire ought to keep the wearer from many temptations. The male companions of the gorgeous creatures on
the stand were, if not supremely graceful, I hope gallant. Colonial gentlemen do not, as a rule, dress too well, and any taste is all on the side of the fairer sex. Representatives of all Australia and its aristocracy were present, the “vice-regal party” arriving in carriages drawn by four horses, and preceded by outriders.

There were Sir George Bowen and Miss Bowen, Sir Hercules and Lady Robinson and Miss Robinson, Sir Anthony and Lady Musgrave, and the Hon. Hely Hutchinson. A fair and gallant company, indeed. I quailed before three governors and knights; the benignant smile of Sir George would be quite enough to settle me. But Victorians, I begin to see, are a democratic and irreverent race, and except for a society and fashionable point of view, have little respect for the Queen’s vice-regents.

A Riverina and Queensland squatters, Sydney millionaires, Adelaide merchants, and every one worth knowing in Victoria seemed to be at the stand. Professional men, scholars and quacks’ lawyers and divines, statesmen and politicians, popular singers’ actors, actresses, circus people, agents, publicans, and trades folks all were there—an incongruous medley. “New chums” were astonished &t finding any fashion out of London, and even our cousin from San Francisco, a very Saul amongst men. was forced to admit that the sight was a grand one.

“A Vagabond” in the “Argus’ 8 November 1876