When it comes to the race that stops a nation - make that the whole Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival - even those with only a slight fashionable inclination can't help but follow what the fillies are wearing. But a fitting frock and frivolous fascinator are just the beginning – perfect hair, make up and beauty will take you from lagging outside the barrier to a Cup-holding victory. We spoke to the racing industries’ most savvy style-setters about racing beauty and find out what's inside their designer clutches come race day. Giddy up.
Punctuating the grass (or mud, eek!) with Altazurra and Alaia is but a rite of passage for many a mare. As we descend upon a floral-filled Flemington juggling cameras, adjusting bustiers, we hold down headpieces in the unpredictable rain, hail or shine. Amid the awkward sideways hat-kisses, flutes full o' bubbles and unlearned but enthusiastic bets, is a riot of colour and texture playing out on both fabric and face. We break down the various race day rules and get essential advice from those in the know trackside.
With Derby traditionally adhering to monochromatic tones, namely black and white, it is widely touted as a day for the classics. Take a modern spin on the reigning favourite and go head-to-stiletto in white. Stripes, too, are a Derby frontrunner; as are linear prints – think silks and satins stamped with checks, grids and lines. The sophisticated silhouette is the look du jour, with waist-cinching and decidedly feminine figure-hugging pieces accentuating hourglass shapes. Channel the sirens of old with fitted bodices, exaggerated necklines and off-the-shoulder skin, skirts are to-the-knee or mid-calf skimming.
Tap into bygone Hollywood glamour, with hair in either polished top-knot’s or low bun’s, or glamorous curls pinned to one side exposing an enveloped lobe in pearly bling or crystal cuffed jewels. Beauty reps cult-like classics; noir-winged eyes, big, full lashes and a timeless red lip. Strong eyes and a bold lip will measure up through mesh-covered masterpieces.
Headwear, too, should be structured and sophisticated. Save the flouncy and frivolous, embrace bigger-the-better brims and cloud-skimming headpieces, vintage oval-shaped cocoons and sculptural masterpieces. Bubbles in hand and cat-eye sunglasses on, come home with a victory on Day One.
Inside the Expert Beauty Bag: Nerida Winter, Milliner
"The more you have going on with your headwear, the less hair you want to see competing. So then if you have a simple elegant piece, hair out is definitely an option. Feminine floral headbands look great with hair out too."
Melbourne Cup Day
The race that stops the nation is all about stopping the crowds with a knockout outfit and beauty that is both directional and fierce; a day for trends, high-end luxe and strong aesthetics. A fashion-forward filly; think masterful, intertwined leather creations, ingenuous embellishment, clever cut-outs or perhaps even a jumpsuit (despite Flemington’s forewarning of no-pants, typically their stance doesn’t thwart good fashion), the designer rolodex for the day should read something like Dion, Josh and Kym, you know, the prodigious kids. A primary palette of reds, cobalt, citron and emerald, opt for bold colour blocking, or back a different winner, choosing metallics to inject some modernism.
Push the (fashion) barriers with a theatrical exuberance, matched of course with standout beauty bites. Make-up too should follow suit, with directional, avant-garde-esque beauty applied. Black and smoky eyes offset with dazzling gold and silver, swipes of colourful accents will give your beauty a (pony) kick in the right direction.
Time to pull out the gel and grease up; scoop and slick hair into polished ponytail’s, or simply up-up-and-away with a wet-slick and complete the look with edgy, hardware headwear. Dead-straight hair also makes for wham-bam moments, complimented most perfectly with a sharp fedora or panama hat, an almost futuristic headpiece will also align itself with the modern Cup aesthetic. Such fashion, make-up and hair make for a trifecta winning performance.
Inside the Expert Beauty Bag: Yeojin Bae, Myer Designer
"I love a slim pencil tailored dress for track side, just past the knee and in a pop of colour. This season I am really into Emerald Green and a mid shade of Pink. I would avoid too much bare skin, feathers and sequins."
Ladies’ Day traditionally lends itself to all things feminine. Flora and fauna is ubiquitous (it is Spring after all). Indulge in a tad of your own gardening; with frocks seeding blooms in both brights and pastels, floral motifs and leafy appliqués are both fresh and sweet. A gallop away from the florals, scoop up sorbet hues of mint, strawberry, lavender and lemon, with pastels proffering a most sumptuous offering in the fashion and beauty stakes. Lacy delights and intricate woven wonders also feature; conjuring fairytale-like imagery and upholding the romanticism that is Oaks.
Keep beauty dewy and fresh (as a daisy), pink-toned blush will ensure a fancy flush, whilst a soft, glossy lip in shell or tea rose is keynote to Oak’s Day glamour. Match a powdery pink or minty fresh ensemble with a pink pout or swipe of green across eyelids.
Hair is soft and romantic; loose, brushed out curls, pretty braids threaded with flowers, waved locks pulled to one side. Whilst atop sit floral garlands and feminine fascinators cultivating exquisite blossoms, whimsical and all things nice.
Inside the Expert Beauty Bag: Laura Dundovic, Myer Ambassador
"Remember its day time so not too heavy. I usually have one stand out area either lips, cheeks or eyes."
Stakes Day, typically coined ‘Family Day’, is a day to let your locks down (literally) and celebrate the finality of the Carnival with a playful verve. Channel the kids and go crayon-crazy (in a most stylish way) with zinging pops of colour, acidic streaks offset with black and white, and prints which are pronounced and punchy. A childish yet chic temperament is sought; silhouettes are fun, artful and quirky; ruffles, asymmetrical hemlines, puff-ball skirts, tiers of fabrication and mini’s (thigh-high hems are acceptable on this day).
The beauty palette can most definitely be colour-filled and chirpy, enliven your look and play with colour on eyes; pick a shade to tie in with frocks accordingly. A pop lip in tangerine, coral or pink lemonade is coveted, whilst limbs look to be dipped in pots of caramel (not orange juice!), gently bronzed is a Stakes day staple; apply a lightweight luxe tanning oil to achieve a glow.
Headwear hits frivolous notes; with playful animal ears (a nod to Maison Margiela), graphic turbans, draped crystal headpieces, headbands and bows – think quirky and offbeat, a day to indulge in eccentric fashion trends and get away with it. Youthful plaits, loose ponytail’s and wilder, more tousled curls are a wonderful way to integrate a youthful aesthetic without looking like a child. Place your bets; it’s the final day to back a winner.
Inside the Expert Beauty Bag: Emma Freedman, Racing Royalty and TV Presenter
"For me it's all about dewy, youthful skin. To get that look your skin has to be in tip top condition, so I pay a visit to the lovely girls at The Clinic in Sydney in the week leading up the Melbourne Cup week. I get a delicious blueberry peel and an IPL treatment which makes my skin glow. It also means I can go fairly light on with the foundation. I find too much makeup on a raceday is ageing and just annoying to maintain too. Clean, fresh skin is best!"
Story and Edit by Chrisanthi Kaliviotis. Layout by Amanda Chan.