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Queensland Ballet Costumier wins Emerging Designer Award at the Melbourne Cup

Chelsea Dawson in ‘The Dress’ – photo Bethany Cordwell

A Junior Costumier at Queensland Ballet has taken out the Emerging Designer Award at Fashions on the Field in this year’s Melbourne Cup.

25-year-old Bethany Cordwell picked up the prestigious gong via Zoom this morning with musical theatre performer Chelsea Dawson displaying the gown. The top three finalists in the Myer Fashions on your Front Lawn Emerging Designer Award all zoomed in from their homes to hear who had won.

Made from 20,000 hand-cut scales cut from plastic document folders, the dress took 6 weeks to pull together and is part of a collection Cordwell has been working on.

The piece has a fascinator to accompany the dress with wings that sits just behind the ears.

“I thought they’d go well, and work with the simplicity of the dress,” Bethany said.

The award is one of Australia’s most sought-after, offering a platform for designers to present their art on a national stage. Cordwell said she was shocked to have been chosen amongst the emerging stars of Australian fashion.

“The first thing I think I thought about was the prize, and what it would mean to me and my future as a designer. To be featured in Vogue Magazine, something that was so integral and inspiring when I was a young girl is staggering. Being a girl from rural Queensland, growing up in Cairns and then Mackay, it was everything… and I loved pouring over the fashion pages.”

Queensland Ballet Artistic DirectorAO said the company was very proud of her achievement.

“A group of staff were watching the awards on the TV, and a huge cheer went out when they heard she’d won. We are thrilled that her magnificent work has caught the eye of the judges and believe she has a big future ahead of her,” he said.

Bethany Cordwell grew up in Cairns, moving to Mackay as a teenager for her high school years. She did an Honours degree in Design at QUT and has been with Queensland Ballet since 2019.


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