I Wore A Suit To The Brownlow (“Gownlow”)


Suits worn by myself and Liam were designed, made and tailored by the absolutely incredible Carl Navè. Instagram: @cnavetailor

Photography done by the extremely talented Grace Petrou. Instagram: @gracepetrou

Make-up by the exceptional artist, Tess McFadden. Instagram: @tessm_makeupartist

Hair by the long hair genius, Julia Cochrane. Instagram: @hairbyjuliacochrane

Shoes Stella McCartney


Campaign for a “Bullfree Brownlow” for the Herald Sun can be seen here.

“How a woman can make a statement on the Brownlow carpet” article by Woman’s Agenda can be read here.

“10 talking points from the 2016 Brownlow Medal” by AFL.com can be seen here.

Articles also by Foxsports and The Daily Mail.

Radio interviews given for Joy FM on challenging gender bias and discrimination, 774 ABC and ABC National.

Previous post on Uncanny Annie can be read here.

The Brownlow Medal 2016


“Fashion is a visual expression of how you feel. And I feel the red carpet has been unfairly biased and cruel to women in the past. #bullyfreebrownlow “~I tweeted out on the night

Pondering about the potential sh*t storm that was about to come.

Though getting an invitation to a red carpet event is hardly being hard done by, people also shouldn’t underestimate what many of the partners at the Brownlow go through. Though our partners have media training via the clubs they play for, we don’t. Being up for public scrutiny when you are just trying to support the achievements of your partner can leave a bitter taste in your mouth or in some cases, leave partners in a state of depression.

Much of the public are still quick to judge women that are with athletes. We must be superficial, unintelligent, promiscuous, gold-digging and limelight loving. Many still believe we aren’t worthy of respect. I believe the “WAG” title and the way people still treat partners of players is a type of slut shaming.

We don’t see such media hype, maliciousness or fashion criticism directed towards partners at any other event in Australia. Can you imagine if partners attending the Logies or the Walkley Awards were subject to a tenth of what is deemed acceptable at the Brownlow?

My attempt at posing, ha! Most of the women in attendance of the Brownlow are not models (I’m sounding like a broken record – I don’t know how many times I’ve said that now?!) Some of the women attending the Brownlow in 2016 were actually AFLW players, about to debut in the women’s competition that was kicking off for the first time in 2017. That didn’t stop them from being subjected to judgement either.

I’m always confused by the superficial questions asked by the media to the partners attending the Brownlow. In my opinion it can’t be debated that the partner of an AFL player knows the most about that player’s footy. We know their routine, how they sleep and eat, what they think of the coaches and staff, the inside secrets they confide to us, the shoe size they wear, and we go to most games and often watch every move they make. But it’s rare for any of the media to bother asking a question about football to learn from this insight.

The most common we’re asked? “Who are you wearing this evening?” (also a poorly phrased question that always makes me giggle. We aren’t Ed Gein and skinned a few designers!)

Many say, “if you don’t like it, don’t go.” That’s ridiculous. The bulliers and sexism need to be stopped, not those being bullied for going.

Needless to say there are women and gender diverse people that face far more shocking and extreme sexism everyday, but I felt it important to stand up for women so publicly at this event. Because equality in sport has a flow on effect to equality in life.

A few people were keen to criticise the fact I wore heels and not flat shoes. They didn’t understand why I would wear different shoes to Liam when I was trying to make the statement that Liam and I were dressed the same and therefore should be equally critiqued on our fashion.

However, the statement was also that people attending should be able to be themselves without judgement. We both like wearing suits. I like wearing heels, Liam doesn’t. So I wore heels and he wore flat shoes.

Regardless of the fact that our suits were exactly the same suits but just tailored to our different body shapes, and that we were clearly making a statement about sexism, I still found myself in the “worst dressed” and “fashion fails” by the “fashion police” despite no fashion critical commentary about Liam, I guess even if I was wearing one of the bespoke suits San Francisco based tailor created for me I’d still be kept in the box due to my sex.

It was also brought to my attention a year after the Brownlow that a popular footy website had someone create a forum about me. It was titled that I was a “bush pig.” In it talked about how Liam was weak, how ugly I was, the disgust to feminism, and bizarrely a lot of talk about whether or not I was still worth “f***ing.” It was very long and still active the last time I bothered to check. So, yeah, just the typical response to a woman turning up at the Brownlow *sigh*

Talking to the talented, funny and kind Carl Navè before I left. I really am indebted to Carl for understanding and supporting my ambition leading up to the event and for creating our suits.

At the end of the day, this is who it was all about for me, my husband, Liam. I love him so deeply and I was so proud of him for being invited. Not many people realise that only 5 players from each teams are invited. It’s an honour to go.

I’m so grateful for the partnership Liam and I have. Liam was playing in the AFL Grand Final only days after the Brownlow and I’m sure many people would’ve wanted to keep a low profile.

Despite his quiet nature, Liam also believed that this public stand was too important to miss the opportunity and was supportive of my idea. We both “wear the pants” in our relationship and that is the way we like it.

We suit each other – haha.