Each year, the Melbourne Cup Carnival provides us with some glowing highlights, and some glaring lows. Upon close reflection of the week that was, Angela and Lisa have compiled their list of tip-top moments and sights we’d prefer not to have seen.

RIGHTS

MELBOURNE CUP DAY FASHIONS ON THE FIELD

At one stage during the crowded preliminary finals, I leaned over to Angela and whispered, “Thank God we don’t compete in this anymore”. The quality was just ridiculous, and it wasn’t a surprise to see the Cup Day victor, Chloe Moo, continue on her merry way and collect the national Fashions on the Field title.

One of the exceptionally high-quality Cup Day Fashions on the Field preliminary finals.

One of the exceptionally high-quality Cup Day Fashions on the Field preliminary finals.

The sheer number of impeccably-dressed Cup Day entrants can probably be attributed to the outdated and now misguided entry strategy that women leave their best outfits for Oaks Day (thus not having to return again in the same outfit if one happens to win the daily final). Crafty competitors wanting an easier passage through to the Victorian final were bringing out their best wares for Cup Day instead, but it seems everyone is employing this tactic and, as such, the Cup Day competition has become seriously strong and the Oaks Day event a little weak. We’re tipping entrants will come to the same realisation and we’ll see a sharp rise in Oaks Day quality next year.

THE MYER FASHIONS ON THE FIELD COMPETITION

There’s not a negative word that can be said about the competition this year – it was simply flawless, from the new Fashions on the Field Enclosure, which allowed us to actually see horses thanks to its magnificent views from the second floor, to the silky-smooth running of the daily competitions by the organisers, Bridget and Katie and the team from MiNC Events.

Lisa and Angela with FOTF organisers Bridget Tomkins (left) and Katie Flockart (right) on Melbourne Cup Day.

Lisa and Angela with FOTF organisers Bridget Tomkins (left) and Katie Flockart (right) on Melbourne Cup Day.

These ladies are the unsung heroes of Myer Fashions on the Field, always ensuring a fair, fun and enjoyable time for participants, judges and media alike. And for anyone who can remember what Fashions on the Field was like before Bridget and Katie came on board (reminder: contestants would mill around in a paddock and would have to catch the eye of a judge before even being allowed to step on stage), you’ll know what a truly incredible job they’ve done to get the event to the outstanding level it’s currently at today. Myer Fashions on the Field would not be the same without them.

BERNIE BROOKES’ ON-TRACK FORM

It’s hard to think of Myer’s raceday delights – the Fashions on the Field competition and Birdcage marquee – without Bernie Brookes, but that’s exactly what we’ll be facing next year when the affable CEO steps down. Not only does his company invest heavily in the Fashions on the Field concept, but Bernie himself is a keen supporter of the event and never misses a Women’s Racewear final during Cup week. We believe his love for Fashions on the Field is enhanced by his penchant for betting on the event with his high-profile mates, with each putting $20 into the kitty and selecting three charges at each competition. But’s a shame Bernie’s keen eye for picking Fashions on the Field winners (he marked Angela as the winner in 2011) doesn’t stretch to the turf, as we hear he had more wins from fillies of the two-legged variety rather than the four-legged kind this year.

Bernie's best Myer Marquee moments, clockwise from left: with NSW finalist Kelli Odell, dancing up a storm with James Tomkins, and karaoke on Stakes Day with Kris Smith.

Bernie’s best Myer Marquee moments, clockwise from left: with NSW finalist Kelli Odell, dancing up a storm with James Tomkins, and karaoke on Stakes Day with Kris Smith.

Bernie, we’ve enjoyed your antics at Fashions on the Field and in the Myer Marquee immensely, and we hope you’ll still be able to join us front-row at the FOTF enclosure next year!

COCO ROCHA

To those in the know, Coco’s appearance at the Melbourne Cup Carnival as the International Style Guest was highly anticipated, but many non-fashion folk were scratching their heads as to who she was, and why she was invited to our biggest horse race. We’re pretty sure they know who Coco Rocha is now. Not only was the Canadian supermodel always dressed to perfection in racewear-appropriate attire, but she was super charming and polite to boot.

Coco Rocha (right) poses for a quick pic with the designer of her outfit, Anthony Capon (centre), while VRC Vice Chairman Amanda Eliiot is caught unaware. Photo from www.instagram.com/anthonycapon.

Coco Rocha (right) poses for a quick pic with the designer of her outfit, Anthony Capon (centre), while VRC Vice Chairman Amanda Eliiot is caught off-guard. Photo from www.instagram.com/anthonycapon.

Explaining her grounded nature to smh.com.au, she said, “My favourite quote in the world is, ‘It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice. I live by that. You’re invited to things like this and it’s an honour and people think of you as an important person, but always remember where you come from; always remember who’s taking care of you, who’s doing their job, when you’re just posing for pretty pictures.”

She also took a liking to one of our favourite Melbourne-based designers, Anthony Capon, when she decided to step up her fashion game and wear his Design Award entry on Oaks Day. Conducting their fitting at 5:30pm the day before, he spoke of her relaxed, friendly demeanour with the two spending time chatting about their mutual talent for Irish Dancing. If only they’d had time to Instagram a quick routine!

BEC BRAMICH

After years of appointing (somewhat clueless) footballers’ wives as Myer Fashions on the Field ambassadors, the VRC changed tack last year and chose Ally Saville to represent the competition. Ally, the daughter of Black Caviar-owner Pam Hawkes and highly involved in horsey affairs herself, proved a popular and knowledgeable ambassador, combining her penchant for fashion with her love of all things equine.

Bec Bramich on Cup Day, wearing one of Lisa's SS14 hats. Photo by www.lucasdawson.com.au for VRC.

Bec Bramich on Cup Day, wearing one of Lisa’s SS14 hats. Photo by www.lucasdawson.com.au for VRC.

We were interested to know who would follow in Ally’s footsteps, and were very pleased when it was announced endurance rider and Chadwick model Rebecca Bramich would be the 2013 Myer Fashions on the Field ambassador. Like Ally, Bec has a natural affinity for horses, which proved useful when posing with thoroughbreds for newspaper covers and entering official launches on horseback. She also knows racewear, and wears it very well, telling the audience at the Myer Fashions on the Field launch she was looking for someone who not only follows current trends, but “who puts their personality into their outfit” when judging Fashions on the Field. And, perhaps most importantly, Bec’s just a really nice girl and fun to hang out with. Next year’s ambassador has big shoes to fill…

POPPY DELEVIGNE

Poppy Delevingne at the Lavazza Marquee on Derby Day. Photo from www. heraldsun.com.au.

Poppy Delevingne at the Lavazza Marquee on Derby Day. Photo from www. heraldsun.com.au.

Like Coco Rocha, many Australians would probably have no idea who Poppy Delevingne is (she’s a British socialite and model), or are probably more familiar with her younger sister, Cara (she’s THE model of the moment). But Poppy made a lasting impression when she was brought out by Lavazza on Derby Day. Not only did she insist on wearing something by an Australian designer (J’Aton, no less), but she asked to have the hemline lowered to the knee as it was inappropriately short by British racing standards. And, proving she wasn’t there just to look pretty, she actually studied the form and left the track with over $1,000 in winnings. Poppy, thanks for showing them how it’s done and you’re welcome to come back anytime!

WRONGS

THE MIDRIFF TREND

Yes, we know, the bare midriff trend is huge this season. And we believe it can look great. But there is a time and a place for everything, and a bare or sheer midriff in the Birdcage is not one of them.

The last time we checked, the Birdcage was firmly a part of “the Members’ Enclosure and related areas” and, according to the Members’ Dress Regulations, “garments which show midriff” are on the prohibited list. So why oh why did we see so many of them out in force on Derby Day? Rumours circulated that certain male sports stars were banned for breaking the minor “shoes without socks” rule, yet not only were female attendees allowed through the gates flashing their flesh, but it was even praised and celebrated by vogue.com.au.

Inappropriate midriff-bearing looks featured in vogue.com.au's Derby Day Street Style section.

Inappropriate midriff-bearing looks featured in vogue.com.au’s Derby Day Street Style section.

So who do we blame? The VRC seem completely competent at upholding the men’s racewear code, but they need to step it up and step in when they see any female attendee blatantly break the dress code – no matter if she is a celebrity and exposing her body is what she’s known for. And Vogue, it’s time you took a look at the dress code, too, and stopped encouraging women from wearing inappropriate outfits to the racecourse. Though that may be a little tricky given our next wrong-doer…

CHRISTINE CENTENERA

She’s just been named as the new Fashion Director of Vogue Australia so, presumably, she’s a pretty damn good stylist. But Christine Centenera seemed to leave all her styling skills in Sydney when she turned up to Derby Day sans millinery, and looking like she’d crawled out of bed in the outfit she wore out the night before.

Christine Centenera at Derby Day. Photo by www.vogue.com.au.

Christine Centenera at Derby Day. Photo by www.vogue.com.au.

Those who are friends with me (Lisa) on Facebook will probably think I have a personal vendetta against Christine (I’ve ranted about this previously), but what sort of a look is it when the Fashion Director of the most prestigious glossy in the land is shown not only defying racewear etiquette, but also not supporting the little guys (milliners) of the local fashion industry? OTOT is always a fan of playing with the rules and bending them to suit your style (Angela is undoubtedly the queen of this!), and we’d really love to see what a stylist of Christine’s calibre can produce when challenged to style an outfit for the racetrack. But this is not racewear, it’s just really disappointing. Please try harder next time.

OAKS CLUB LUNCHEON

This event is a highlight of the carnival as over 1,500 women attend each year and tickets (at $250 a pop) sell out in minutes. It was Lisa’s first time attending and Angela’s fifth. The menu for the event had been put together by  Crown’s Culinary Directors and renowned chefs Neil Perry and Guillaume Brahim. It is a stunning event with this year’s pink theme running through the whole room with impeccable attention to detail. There were amazing musical guests (Dami Im and Belinda Carlisle) and special international guests in attendance (Coco Rocha and Kate Upton).

Sure, it looks ok- if it was breakfast!

Sure, it looks ok- if it was breakfast!

Now I must get to why this is on the wrong list. I (Angela) am allergic to nuts. Every single year someone from the VRC requests any dietary requirements prior to the event and assures me that it won’t be a problem. Yet, every single year it has been a problem, and this year was no exception. Every year without fail I have attended I have watched as guests around me are presented with stunning mouth-watering deserts and every year I have been presented with a fruit platter. In the words of Lisa: “fruit is a healthy breakfast option, not dessert”. After rejecting yet another year’s fruit platter I was presented with a sad piece of dry cake. I have a sweet tooth so this is quite an insult – I can bear the terrible entrees and main dishes I have been presented with over the years, but I will not tolerate fruit for dessert. Given the incredible dining options at Crown, I urge someone to come up with something better.

STAKES DAY EMIRATES FASHIONS ON THE FIELD

It wouldn’t be spring carnival in Melbourne without at least one day of horrible weather. The weather forecasters had been telling us all week that we would need to rug up for the final day of the Carnival. Stakes Day was freezing, with occasional bursts of spitting rain and an icy, cutting wind that didn’t let up. With this in mind, we couldn’t understand the number of parents with coats and jackets on, lining up with little girls in summer sundresses and little boys in thin shirts. To the rugged-up parents towing purple goosebump-covered kids, bear in mind one of the judging crietria – appropriateness of the outfit for the person’s age, the climate and the raceday.

The FOTF judges were dressed for the conditions L-R Kim Fletcher, Johnny Ruffo and Fleur Salisbury

The FOTF judges were dressed for the conditions L-R Kim Fletcher, Johnny Ruffo and Fleur Salisbury

THE NEXT GENERATION OF FEMALE RACEGOERS

Following on from the last Wrong, there were some youngsters at the track who clearly chose to dress inappropriately for the weather, and the occasion. We remember what it was like about 10 years ago, when Racing Victoria, metropolitan racing clubs and Myer really began to urge racegoers to dress appropriately for the track, and discouraged them from wearing anything they would wear to a nightclub (short, tight and composed with a good dose of elastane). Since then, Victorian and Australian female racegoers have made massive strides in the racewear stakes, reverting back to ladylike demureness and elegance and shunning anything too shiny, short and sexy.

Unfortunately, the outlook for the next racgegoing generation looks a little grim. The soggy lawns at Flemington on Stakes Day were littered with 15-17 year-olds girls, barely clothed in super figure-hugging mini dresses, trying to grip onto umbrellas and stay upright on their vertiginous platform heels. One particular lass wore platform wedges so high, we feared for the safety of her ankles as she wobbled precariously with every step she took across the lawn (how she made it, we’ll never know).

A prime example of what not to wear to the racecourse on Stakes Day.

A prime example of what not to wear to the racecourse on Stakes Day.

Of course, there were some fabulous examples of well-dressed, age- and track-appropriate little ladies in the Emirates Fashions on the Field competitions, but unfortunately they were greatly outnumbered by those who weren’t entering and weren’t covered up. We can only hope these girls will eventually learn the benefits of “leaving something to the imagination”, or become addicted to entering Fashions on the Field events.

By Lisa Tan and Angela Menz