This influential racewear design competition has been recognising outstanding talent and excellence within the Australian fashion industry for the last four years.
It provides an important platform for emerging creatives to showcase their skillset and unique aesthetic to an engaged national audience.
2021 Winner - Bethany Cordwell
Over 16,000 hand-tooled, teardrop-shaped “scales” were employed by visionary designer Bethany Cordwell to create the unique texture of her head-turning dress. The pink and black shapes were cut from reflective plastic document folders and individually sewn together, layer upon layer, to achieve a fluttery, futuristic effect that catches the light.
The simple strapless style with its short circle skirt is a smart vehicle to showcase her creativity, tempering the elaborate finish. Topped off with a coordinating fascinator, evocative of the wings of some rare bird, the overall effect is simply extraordinary.
The famous Flemington rosebushes served as inspiration for designer Errick Kim’s race day look. The iconic blooms, with their dense, frilly petals, were reimagined as a glamorous knee-length gown that lends a traditional, structured silhouette a sense of movement and fun. The piece was meticulously crafted from a recycled dress, making something beautiful and new from an old design.
Deftly placed ruffles and stiff folds of fabric curl around the body, accentuating the neckline, sleeve and skirt hem. The overall effect is perfectly polished yet utterly unique – ideal for the racegoer who likes to bring personality to traditional fashion codes.
South Australian-based emerging designer Victoria Stewart-Randall has turned her hand to everything from casualwear to formal dresses for her label, Victoria Nancy. Here, her entry piece strikes the perfect balance of both. A full skirted, mid-length silhouette with its sharp asymmetrical neckline brings the drama, while pretty folds and gathers on the bodice imbue the look with an easy elegance.
The fabric - a painterly depiction of soft sorbet tones – provides the perfect palette for a Melbourne Cup Carnival look. It has also been fashioned into a coordinating crown-style headband to top off the dreamy dress.
Polished tailoring brimming with personality brings trackside elegance to Melbourne-based designer Alek’s Mathiang’s entry, entitled Pink Reign. The sculpted silhouette of a classic long-line blazer is broken up by a witty peplum frill, finished with gossamer-fine layers beneath to further enhance its shape.
A plunging V neckline with smart collar further plays on the juxtaposition between strict suiting and a sense of fun. The design is cut from a high-lustre fuchsia print jacquard that brings luxurious weight and a touch of sparkle, ideal for delivering glamour come race day. Hot pink fabric covered buttons complete the look with bright pops of joyous colour.
Using only offcuts from her workroom and discarded clothing that was damaged beyond repair, Luisa Manea’s racewear look is a masterclass in mindful design. Her aim? To create a compelling couture piece without purchasing anything new. Instead, she employed myriad sewing techniques, from hand-beading to applique and embroidery, to fashion something completely unique.
The fully-lined sheath shows off a bold clash of colours, enhanced with sequins, tassels and a progression of ‘80s buttons extending down the back. The finished product is a totally original gown imbued with beauty and purpose.
Sustainability and the principles of universal design lie at the heart of Emma Bond’s original silk gown. Adaptive, usability-focused styling, catering to a range of abilities, is a passion point for the creative. The reversible piece is easily slipped on or stepped into and, thanks to its smart draping, can be worn by a variety of sizes. It has been thoughtfully crafted from an eclectic mix of fabric samples, vintage scarves and remnants, all in 100 percent silk.
The result is a one-of-a-kind piece that boasts sustainable credentials, without compromising on craftsmanship. Emma was inspired by Michelle Payne’s 2015 Cup win, and the dress speaks of the energy encapsulated in that historic moment.
In a case of art imitating life, Laura Keogh’s emerald-green midi dress is fashioned entirely from the ubiquitous reusable green shopping bags. They became so much a part of the designer’s life in lockdown – with weekly trips to the supermarket her only outing for months – she was inspired to find another use for them.
With sustainability a key foundation of her eponymous label, Laura relished the challenge to create a beautiful racewear piece exclusively from these household items. The striking result, which features a vintage-style paneled bodice and pleated full skirt, is a witty yet important statement about ethical production in the fashion industry.
Reminiscent of the spring sunshine at Flemington, Mark Blake’s joyous golden gown can’t help but make you smile. It’s a look that brings classic racewear bang up to date, thanks to bold blocks of colour and fine pleating details. Echoes of tradition are there – the mid-length hemline, demure round neck, waist-cinching belt – but they’ve been reworked to compelling new effect.
The meticulous colour placement and shaping on the bodice, which extends into just the hint of a capped sleeve, frames the face while dialing up the modern feel. This is trackside elegance for a new era.
Olivia Okely’s standout look was created to challenge old concepts of fashion, turning traditional menswear into something contemporary. Inspired by the Netflix hit Bridgerton, the designer has created a modern-day outfit with Regency era flair. Each piece is mindfully constructed from deadstock fabrics, while the graphic pattern was hand screen printed by the designer herself.
The Regency silhouettes of the shirt and pants are renewed in contemporary fabrics with clever cuts, while the aristocratic tailcoat with its velvet detailing brings the swagger. Each piece is splashed in a regal colour palette, guaranteed to stand out from the traditional racing crowd.
Inspired by the gentle curve of dusky rose petals in the morning light, Veronika Midor has crafted a form-fitting and feminine dress that is striking in its simplicity. The streamlined mini design is shaped to the body and accentuated with cloud-like folds of organza.
An asymmetric sweep of tulle artfully curves around the neck of the wearer, drawing the eye up. Three likeminded tones of the softest pink combine to add depth and subtle texture to the piece. Youthful and delicate, it’s a look that will speak to a new generation of racing enthusiasts.