Caulfield Cup runneth over with stars as hat debate the toque of the track

Carla Zampatti led the

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To hat or not to hat? That was the talk – or should that be toque – of the track at the Caulfield Cup on Saturday.

Representing the hatless brigade were mother-and-daughter design duo Carla Zampatti and Bianca Spender, who went sans headwear in the David Jones marquee.

Caulfield Cup raises the bar – literally

As a pop-up West Hollywood bar rose from the lawns for the 2017 Caulfield Cup, Donna Demaio caught up with the celebrities trackside.

Zampatti, in a white ostrich-feather jacket, said she loves a good hat but coming from Sydney and the inclement weather meant she opted out.

“I usually wear a hat but I figured … I would probably hold it in my hand all day.,” she said.

“I quite like the headband style but I was just thinking I really need to get a plain, lovely hat because I also like big hats. A hat is great for a bad-hair day, it’s great if it’s raining. And you feel as if you’re trying a little harder. So I think one should.”

Spender, who revealed she cuts her own hair, said she was relying on her floral suit to make a statement.

“Either you let the hat do the talking or you let the clothes do the talking,” she said. “I love the juxtaposition of a ‘mansy’ suit in a soft floral print. I love how much tailoring is in … we’re seeing a real liberation of the codes of races dressing.” 

Jewellery designer Samantha Wills, wearing a crown and a headpiece, said she doubled down to make a real statement.

“Racing is about the headwear … go big or go home,” she said.

Firmly in the hatted brigade was Melbourne Racing Club style ambassador Nadia Bartel, whose custom ombre wide-brimmed hat perfectly matched her cobalt blue dress by Dion Lee.

It seemed if it was Lee it was hot, with a number of starlets, including actress Rachael Taylor, wearing the uber designer, who himself generally avoids the spotlight and prefers to let his garments do the talking.

Among those dressed in Dion was David Jones ambassador Jesinta Franklin, in a “straight off the runway” tweed one-shoulder vest-dress that she paired with white heels, a silver headpiece and earring (note: singular, and all the rage) and a Dior bag, possibly a nod to her husband, Sydney Swans champion Lance “Buddy” Franklin’s latest role as a fragrance ambassador for the fashion house.

In an impossibly cute #twinning moment, the couple, who jet off on their annual holiday on Monday, arrived in matching John Lennon-style round sunglasses, Buddy capping off his look with a mustard hat that some observed looked remarkably like the colours of his former club, Hawthorn.

Also in Dion Lee was Karl Stefanovic’s girlfriend, shoe designer Jasmine Yarbrough, who arrived without the breakfast TV host, who chose to stay away amid the fallout from Lisa Wilkinson’s sudden departure from the show.

Wearing a spiked Suzy O’Rourke headband – definitely not a hat – and her own bone-embellished clutch, Yarbrough said she likes dressing “feminine with a touch of edge”.

Taylor, wearing an industrial-inspired headband replete with silver screws, said she loved coming home to Australia to the races.

“It’s a great time to play dress ups and experiment. I love the fantasy aspect of it all. The fun thing is to not take it too seriously and have fun with it all.”

Hat or no hat.

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