A vindication of the Brownlow red carpet and its women

Words by Sophie Hodges

The best.

Wives and girlfriends in the AFL are a stigmatised lot. I’d know, I used to be one. And the Brownlow Medal cops a lot of bad press, especially when Brendan Fevola gives zero fucks and goes full bunga on the red carpet after a carton of beer. 

I digress.

Even though it celebrates the achievements of an all-male code, the Brownlow red carpet is a part of the night that’s all about the women. This year it was hosted by a fearless Nadia Bartel on the back of a very public marital breakdown, and the women owned the night.    

Bartel won the Brownlow without even playing a game for her power stance on the red carpet alone, and the symbolic power she held over the League on its fanciest night of the year. 

She led a charge of professional women who were impressive in their own right, as well as well-dressed. Here are our picks of the looks of the event, and a celebration of the women in the limelight.

Alex Pendlebury in Jane Hill Bridal

Mum-to-be Alex Pendlebury was glowing in this Jane Hill Bridal gown. The qualified nutritionist and accredited health coach is also an ambassador for Dineamic foods, co-owner of Progression fitness club, host of Chemist Warehouse Australia and model. Just a few things to keep her busy, you know.

Hester Brown in Gwendolynne


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Photo 1: What you see on the red carpet. ✨ Photo 2: Some of what you don’t. ✨ Bottom left: the truly wonderful @gwendolynne, who is not only unbelievably supportive of me and my yearly quest for vintage inspired, ethical, vegan fashion, but is a dear friend. Bottom right: My amazing mum. Babysitter of the year. Middle left: @belinda_cunnington – my rock every year, but this year more than ever. Middle right: the dream team, my friends @jessbevilacqua and @thedistinctivedame who go above and beyond every damn year. I wouldn’t make it through without them. Top left: the friendly faces who make the effort worthwhile. Especially @theoutersanctumposdcast, @annascullie & @ellibrashaw who let me nervously talk their ears off! Top right: the best husband in the world, who came to my aid, and took care of my poor sickie baby girl and me at the same time. ✨ Not pictured: @teganlightbody_ responding to my crisis text messages. @annaheraldsun so kindly helping me organise jewellery through the stress of the last few weeks. @ctmalmgren feeding my fluffy babies on zero days notice. The @cottonon/@samandko peeps who dressed Ben and were so nice and vegan accommodating! #brownlow2019

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Hester Brown is one impressive woman. After completing her law degree, the mum of one had a career change and now works full time as a marriage celebrant. She is also an ambassador for Our Watch, a foundation dedicated to preventing violence against women and their children. We also have big respect for the Game of Thrones vibe hair braid.

Belinda Cunnington in Bonita Couture

You’d be hard-pressed to find a nicer couple than Belinda and Ben Cunnington. If you’re looking for wholesome, Belinda is your lady, in her spare time, you’ll find her fishing or at the farm. 

Abbey Gelmi in custom Cappellazzo Couture

Red carpet co-host Abbey Gelmi stunned in this custom Cappellazzo Couture beige number. The television presenter, journalist, and host will be a familiar face, having established herself as one of Australia’s leading sports presenters.

Jess Tarrant in Georgia Young Couture

Jess Tarrant specialises in PR and Influencer relations, a niche role that has seen her hold positions at some of Australia’s largest companies. Following her passion for health and wellbeing, Jess now works as a pilates instructor at KX Pilates and Rise, while offering her PR expertise on the side.

Sarah Roughead in One Day Bridal

Mum of one, Sarah Roughead, looked sensational in this One Day Bridal gown. It only takes a scroll through her ‘gram to see how down to earth and wholesome she is, and I can confirm this is well and truly the case.

Kate Lawrence in J. Andreatta

Interior designer Kate Lawrence was arguably more excited about finding out her build with True Build Homes is officially going to kick off, than the Brownlow last night. What a vibe. Studying Building and Construction, Kate’s Instagram is the perfect place to get renovation inspiration.

Mardi Dangerfield in Georgia Young Couture

Occupational therapist and mum-of-two, Mardi Dangerfield looked sensational in this Georgia Young Couture gown. And owned that bold lip. I also have it on good authority that she is one of the nicest people you’ll meet, so, there’s that too.

Ruby Keddie in custom Velani


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Party in the back! Loved this pearl encrusted bow ? @velani @jess_pecoraro #Brownlow2019

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Last night was extra special for designer Ruby Keddie, announcing her pregnancy in this beautiful Velani gown. Keddie established her label, ByKane, in 2017, which focuses on sophisticated, versatile womenswear. Many of the pieces echo Keddie’s personal style, with a blend between casual and contemporary. The label encourages you to throw dress codes out the window, with the belief that style is for all seasons.

Brit Davis in Paolo Sebastian


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Brownlow 2019 ✨ @paolo_sebastian , stylist @lanawilkinson, @jade__kmakeup, hair @marieuva, pic @karonphotography, tan @sprayaus

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Special needs teacher Brit Davis stunned in this Paolo Sebastian number and lived out some serious princess dreams. Davis balances her full time role as a special needs teacher, with not only modelling but also ambassador roles across various organisations, including this year’s Run Melbourne event where she assisted in raising awareness for her chosen charity, Berry Street, an organisation dedicated to helping children, young people and families impacted by abuse, violence and neglect. 

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