VRC honours Lillian Frank AM MBE’s contribution to Flemington

11 October 2022 Written by VRC

The Victoria Racing Club (VRC) is delighted to announce the Myer Fashions on the Field Millinery Award will be renamed in honour of the late Melbourne icon, philanthropist and friend of Flemington, Lillian Frank AM MBE.

Mrs Frank made her first visit to the Melbourne Cup in the 1960s and was a long-time judge of Myer Fashions on the Field at Flemington.

Her flamboyant race day outfits and love of millinery will be celebrated via the Myer Fashions on the Field Lillian Frank AM MBE Millinery Award.

VRC Chairman Neil Wilson said it was an appropriate honour for Mrs Frank, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 92.

“Lillian left an indelible mark on the Melbourne Cup Carnival which she attended nearly every year for over half a decade,” Mr Wilson said.

“Her impeccable sense of style and vibrant personality helped elevate the VRC’s Fashions on the Field competition to one of the most popular and prestigious outdoor fashion events in Australia, if not the world. “As we celebrate 60 years of Fashions on the Field, we also celebrate Lillian’s influence on our great city and Cup Week with the renaming of the millinery award in her honour. “It would not be the enduring and popular competition, or Carnival, it is today without Lillian’s influence.”

Mrs Frank was born in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), before her family fled during the Japanese invasion of World War II. She settled in Melbourne in the 1950s, establishing her Toorak hairdressing salon and becoming active in the city's social scene. She was the hair stylist for Jean Shrimpton when the English model attended the Melbourne Cup Carnival and famously broke with convention to wear a white mini-dress, sans hat, stockings and gloves to Derby Day in 1965.

Lillian always had enormous fun dressing for carnival and outfits were planned months in advance.  Show-stopping creations included the Birdcage inspired top hat replete with birds to a hat covered in toothbrushes she wore to raise over $15 million for the Royal Children’s Hospital – a charity Lillian was extremely passionate about. 

She once said she would never wear a fascinator – only a hat – to the track. “I’m all about a statement,” she said.

”Every year I get four new hats for the carnival. I think about the fashion of the day or the era and whether it will suit my outfit.” Mrs Frank worked with milliners including Ashley Franklin, Wendy Mead, Victoria Cascajo, Rebecca Share, Kim Fletcher, Kerrie Stanley, Julie Fleming, Fiona Powell, and the late Freddie Fox. Her daughter Jackie Frank said she would have been delighted by the renaming of the millinery award.

“The Melbourne Cup was always a big event in the Frank household, from the outfit fittings and weeks of preparation, to photographers waiting outside to snap mum on her way to the track,” Ms Frank said.

“She was the original influencer, she knew the bigger the hat the more publicity and more opportunity to open doors for her charities. She created her looks with the help of many of the nation’s top milliners, so this is a wonderful way for us to remember and celebrate mum.”

For more information on Myer Fashions on the Field including the Lillian Frank MBE AM Millinery Award and how to enter visit