The festivities of Melbourne Cup Day actually started the night before for OTOT and a few of the Myer Fashions on the Field state finalists (namely NSW, Tasmania and Queensland), at the Pre-Melbourne Cup Cocktail Function at the Stamford Plaza, hosted by Sharon Lenton Events.

Kelli Odell, Alex Hecker and Crystal Kimber made a dramatic entrance not in their Myer Fashions on the Field-winning outfits but rather in Judith Penak Couture and hats by Sonlia Millinery and OTOT’s Lisa Tan Millinery. Guests sipped on bubbles and nibbled bites from Harry’s Restaurant, while partaking in a lively phantom call sweepstake of the Melbourne Cup.

Myer Fashions on the Field state finalists Alex Hecker (Tas), Crystal Kimber (Qld) and Kelli Odell (NSW) at the Pre-Melbourne Cup Cocktail Function.

Myer Fashions on the Field state finalists Alex Hecker (Tas), Crystal Kimber (Qld) and Kelli Odell (NSW) at the Pre-Melbourne Cup Cocktail Function.

Waking up to a gloriously sunny Melbourne Cup morning, we made the trek to Flemington separately as Angela was dressing the lovely Baylee in her wares for the invite-only Design Award.

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Angela with her Design Award entry, worn by Baylee.

Angela and Lisa arrive at Flemington for Melbourne Cup Day.

Angela and Lisa arrive at Flemington for Melbourne Cup Day.

But first, it was the non-professionals’ turn in the Women’s Racewear category in Myer Fashions on the Field. If you’ve seen our live blogging on the day’s fashion events, you’ll know that the winner was model and student Chloe Moo, from Sydney (originally Darwin), wearing an outfit sourced from Northern Territory-based designers Raw Cloth and Monsoon Millinery.

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Chloe Moo wins the Myer Fashions on the Field Melbourne Cup Day final.

As it transpired, Chloe had more than a little help from her mother, stylist and designer Jo Moo, in creating the outfit. Originally, Chloe told the Northern Territory News her mother “designed her dress and had it sewn at Darwin store Raw Cloth.” Though two days later, after winning the Victorian and then National Myer Fashions on the Field finals, she told the Northern Territory News a slightly different story, explaining, “I always get my race clothes from Raw Cloth and when I walked in and saw it on the rack I just had to have it. Then they told me the story about where it came from and the work Marita did on it and I wanted it even more so, to be able to win this for them is amazing.”

Regardless of how her outfit came about, Chloe was a popular winner in the Myer Fashions on the Field Melbourne Cup Day final and deserved her spot in the Victorian state final.

Next up was the Designer Award, which always promises so much but, in reality, never quite delivers the high-end innovative couture we all hope for. Forty-six designers lined up for the chance to win a trip for two to Paris and a shiny Lexus to zip around in for a year, including our own Angela Menz, and OTOT’s wonderfully fashionable friend, Anthony Capon.

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Baylee wearing Angela’s outfit in the Design Award.

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Entrants in the Design Award.

While Angela made the first cut with her signature bold prints and clashing colour combinations, her outfit unfortunately didn’t make the final. However, Anthony’s regal gold lace and sequinned design was announced in the top 10, and we sat silently, crossing our fingers firmly as a star-studded panel including Burlesque star Dita Von Teese and International Style Guest Coco Rocha chose their favourites.

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L-R: Coco Rocha, winner of the Design Award Oscar Calvo and his model, last year’s Design Award winner Craig Braybrook and Dita Von Teese.

Unfortunately a win wasn’t on the cards for Anthony, with Oscar Calvo taking the crown with his tri-coloured laser-cut neoprene sheath and millinery by the fab Kerrie Stanley. But what we all weren’t aware of at the time was one of the judges loved Anthony’s design so much, she was plotting how to beg/borrow/steal it for Oaks Day. Cue a call from the VRC on Melbourne Cup night, telling Anthony he had a high-profile fan in Coco Rocha, and 24 hours later he was fitting the same look on Ms Rocha herself, while discussing their talents for Irish dancing! Coco wore the beautiful gold lace peplum jacket with a white camisole and a white skirt by Aurelio Costarella on Oaks Day to judge the National Myer Fashions on the Field final.

Anthony Capon's Design Award entry on Rowena Kang (left, via www.theage.com.au) and Coco Rocha (right, via www.thegloss.com).

Anthony Capon’s Design Award entry on Rowena Kang (left, via www.theage.com.au) and Coco Rocha (right, via www.thegloss.com).

After all the excitement of the fashion action, we realised 3 o’clock was fast approaching and so sprinted into the Birdcage (smaller queues) to place our all-important Cup bets, and back out to the second tier of the Myer Fashions on the Field enclosure, which arguably provided some of the best views of the course (for those who wanted to see horses and not just clothes horses). OTOT was supporting Gai Waterhouse’s charge, Fiorente, as we had been generously invited to her post-Cup party (or “commisseration dinner” as one owner revealed he’d been negatively calling it before the race) at The French Brasserie that evening. As the horses flashed down the straight for the second time, we watched anxiously as Fiorente burst into the clear and began charging down the outside, his giant strides gobbling up the ground and the opposition as he hit the front and ran away with the Melbourne Cup!

Fiorente wins the 2013 Melbourne Cup. Photo from www.theaustralian.com.au.

Fiorente wins the 2013 Melbourne Cup. Photo from www.theaustralian.com.au.

Excited by the once-in-a-lifetime prospect of attending a Melbourne Cup winner’s celebrations, we were in the mood to party and the perfect place to capitalise on said feelings was without a doubt the Myer Marquee.

The Myer Marquee in full swing.

The Myer Marquee in full swing.

L-R: Lisa, Myer Millinery Buyer Sarah Yeates, Angela and NSW finalist Kelli Odell in the Myer Marquee.

L-R: Lisa, Myer Millinery Buyer Sarah Yeates, Angela and NSW finalist Kelli Odell in the Myer Marquee.

Retaining its reputation as the Party Marquee from last year’s event, the Myer Marquee is usually quite refined up until about 4:30-5:00pm… and then the music kicks in. Everyone grabs their mojitos and makes tracks to the dance floor, where you can shimmy shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of the Face of Myer, Jennifer Hawkins, and the department store’s CEO, Bernie Brookes (and Bernie does not hold back on the floor!). As the other marquees wind down, Myer kicks on until around 7pm, when the music stops abruptly and guests are given their cue to leave – but not with out a parting gift of a bag of delicious cookies, which are sure to tide you over until you reach your dinner reservation.

A short train-ride later, we were back in the CBD and trying to navigate our way to The French Brasserie when we came upon another group of lost racegoers, who we realised were trying to locate the same restaurant when we noticed a miniature version of the Melbourne Cup in one of their hands. A moment later we rounded the corner of Malthouse Lane with Fiorente’s strapper and saw the hordes of photographers and cameramen, waiting for a glimpse of the main players in the Fiorente story (Gai Waterhouse had not yet arrived). Entering the surreal surroundings with looks of astonishment and bewilderment on our faces, we spotted THE Cup amongst the 200 excited connections of Fiorente, and also artist Laura Douglas, who has been down in Melbourne painting ponies for the VRC and Myer, and also some special commissions. The Cup began to make the rounds and landed in our yearning and ungloved hands; for someone who’s only vaguely dreamed of holding the Melbourne Cup, this was definitely a moment to savour and capture, in case it never happens again!

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Angela and Lisa with Fiorente’s winning strapper.

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Artist Laura Douglas, Lisa and Angela with the Melbourne Cup!

While we waited for the arrival of the lady of honour, we snacked upon some seriously delightful canapés, including rich mushroom-filled vol-au-vents, which made me curious about the rest of their menu (for the record, they offer four courses for $79, including some traditional variations of beef, confit duck cassoulet and a bouillabaisse – yum!). Sometime after eight o’clock Gai Waterhouse entered, positively giddy with joy and looking impossibly chic in a printed silk shirt, trousers and loafers. The media clamoured around her, jockey Damien Oliver, and key owners brandishing the Cup, snapping pics and shooting video as she couldn’t contain her excitement and literally began kicking up her heels. Usually so demure and controlled, this was Gai letting loose – a moment I’ll never forget. And, surely, one she’ll never forget either, for the one that had eluded her for so long was finally and firmly in her grasp. Congratulations, Gai!

Photo credits: www.theage.com.au, www.thegloss.com, www.theaustralian.com.au.

By Lisa Tan and Angela Menz