Melbourne Cup Carnival Fashions on the Field attracts worldwide attention

14 November 2023 Written by VRC

The Victoria Racing Club’s iconic Melbourne Cup Carnival Fashions on the Field competition came to a spectacular close on Kennedy Oaks Day after three incredible days of style were showcased in The Park at Flemington.

The globally renowned fashion event has become synonymous with Cup Week since its inception in 1962.

Breaking new ground this year, the prestigious style showcase welcomed racing and fashion enthusiasts from across the world to share in the glamorous spirit of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, with international digital entries accepted from outside Australia in the major Best Dressed and Best Suited categories as well as the creative led Lillian Frank AM MBE Millinery Award for the first time.

Hundreds of stylish entries poured in from Ireland, Germany, Estonia, Romania, Dubai, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, Canada, the United States of America (USA) and New Zealand with interest and enthusiasm for the global expansion of the competition driven by the astounding suite of prizes on offer with a total prize pool of over $350,000.

Winners in the Best Dressed and Best Suited categories were flown in from the USA and New Zealand for an incredible Melbourne Cup Carnival experience including competing in the final on Kennedy Oaks Day.

The Best Dressed competition was won by regular fashions on the field entrant Eleanor Campbell from Cambridge, New Zealand. Ms Campbell, 28, works in the family’s doggy daycare business and wore a full-length white dress by Solace London paired with a black and white hat by Monika Neuhauser Millinery.

Domingo Martinez, an accountant from Sydney, won the Best Suited category in an upcycled suit and self-made millinery in striking tones of brown, beige and gold. It was the 49-year-old’s first time entering at the competition at Flemington.

The Best Dressed and Best Suited winners each took away over $54,000 in cash and prizes from sponsors including Kennedy, Penfolds, TCL Electronics, Sofitel Melbourne On Collins, Schweppes, TAB and Network 10.

The 2023 Melbourne Cup Carnival Fashions on the Field digital and on-course competition attracted more than 1100 well-dressed entrants.  With the international expansion of the digital competition, fashion and racing enthusiasts from all over the world eagerly entered Australia’s most prestigious racewear competition with over 500 digital entries received and just over 100 from overseas.

VRC Chairman Neil Wilson said the internationalisation of the time-honoured competition drove reach, relevance and prestige as the Melbourne Cup Carnival provided the platform for showcasing the very best in global racing fashion.

“Racing is the only sport with its own fashion category and the internationalisation of the Melbourne Cup Carnival Fashions on the Field competition has broadened the appeal of Australia’s largest outdoor fashion event,” Mr Wilson said.

“Fashion is a universally appreciated expression of people’s individual style and more than 1100 participants from across the globe took part in this iconic celebration of style online and on course during Cup Week an provided an important dimension to Cup Week.

“The international expansion not only further increased the competitions standard and prestige but also enabled us to engage with a broader global audience.

“The growth in the competition’s relevance was supported by a generous suite of prizes that reflected the importance of the competition.  The compelling prize pool was valued at over $350,000 and included an incredible suite of prizes from our valued sponsor partners.”

The Park, Flemington’s must-visit destination for fashionistas, music lovers and foodies, was home to the Fashions on the Field competition across the first three days of the Melbourne Cup Carnival Racegoers embraced the on-course competition in the new-look Fashion Garden with over 550 on-course registrations and over 50 from international locations.

Both the digital and on-course competitions were judging by some of the most internationally recognised and influential fashion identities including Melbourne Cup Carnival Ambassadors, the late Princess Diana’s nieces Lady Amelia and Lady Eliza Spencer, member of the Danish Royal Family Count Nikolai of Monpezat, international model and body diversity advocate Georgina Burke and passionate equine enthusiast and young socialite Gemma Owen, world renowned milliner Stephen Jones OBE and leading Australian designers Toni Maticevski and Rebecca Vallance.

The time-honoured Millinery Award, re-named in 2022 to honour the late Melbourne icon, philanthropist and friend of Flemington, Lillian Frank AM MBE was judged on Lexus Melbourne Cup Day and won by Canberra based milliner and third time winner Cynthia Jones Bryson.  The Lillian Frank AM MBE Millinery Award first prize package was valued at over $37,000, including $5,000 in cash and an invitation to attend the National Gallery of Victoria Gala Cocktail Party.   

Millinery Award winner Cynthia Jones-Bryson and model Chloe Park

The finals of the creative and design-led categories commenced on Penfolds Victoria Derby Day with the popular Emerging Designer Award, which was first introduced to recognise up and coming talent in 2005.  The winner, who takes home prizes valued at over $48,000, was Melbourne-based creative Jessica Virk who is currently undertaking her final year in Bachelor of Fashion Design at Whitehouse Institute of Design. To further her fashion career, with the support of Vogue Australia, Jessica won a trip of a lifetime to Paris where she will attend Paris Fashion Week for the Zimmermann show.

Fashions on the Field Emerging Designer winning outfit by Jessica Virk, model and Jessica pictured