the frocks, fascinators and prime hats that cease the nation


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Given the oddball Sydney Opera Home-inspired contraption being handed off as Australia’s “nationwide costume” for our entrant within the subsequent Miss Universe pageant, our nation’s sartorial delight is lamentable at finest, and just a bit bit lop-sided.

However whereas Australia doesn’t have an official nationwide costume worthy of word, we most actually do have a nationwide day once we embrace carrying costumes, and no, it isn’t Halloween.

On Tuesday it’s not solely the race that stops the nation for the Melbourne Cup, however there shall be a mess of frocks, fascinators and prime hats within the combine too.

Our love of thoroughbred racing has sparked an obsession with racing apparel, the Australian interpretation of which is infinitely extra glamorous than something you’ll discover among the many T-shirts and denims worn at most American racetracks, and far more enjoyable than the stitched-up British aristos within the royal enclosure at Ascot.

When the primary Melbourne Cup was held in 1861 The Age described it thus: “A carnival ambiance prevailed with girls in bonnets and full skirts, males in beaver hats and frock coats. Sideshow cubicles with roulette stands, fortune-tellers, performing monkeys, ‘giants’ and bearded girls entertained the crowds, and publicans did a roaring commerce. The occasion drew spectators from all components: within the crowd there have been males carrying cabbage-tree hats and sporting bushy beards; settlers in moleskins, or leggings and boots; and diggers from Ballarat who stood out of their purple shirts.”

In more moderen years it has been the likes of Bec Hewitt in her “cocktail shorts”, Jean Shrimpton exhibiting off her knees and most not too long ago, the assorted blondes hanging of Geoffrey Edelsten’s eye-wateringly lurid shiny satin fits that has offered the “sideshow” aspect to the races.

In 1961 organisers celebrated the occasion’s centenary and launched a push to get extra girls trackside with a higher emphasis on vogue.

The marketing campaign was successful and in 1962 the Victoria Racing Membership launched a Fashions within the Area competitors for the Spring Racing Carnival to seek out “the neatest dressed girl”.

At first three classes have been provided: outfits that price £30 or much less, these £50 and extra, in addition to the “most elegant hat”.

Hat and gloves and stockings have been thought-about mandatory apparel and the winner Miss Margaret Wooden, of the under-£30 class, borrowed her hat and the cash to buy her outfit.

She received a brand new Ford Falcon Futura motorcar and a Cyclax magnificence case valued at £50.

WIthin a couple of years the competitors had grown in stature, changing into one of many key fixtures on the Australian vogue calendar.

In 1967 the winners of the Fashions within the Area contest have been “Mrs” Ann Faulkner (open part), “Mrs” Cara Brett-Corridor ($80 to $140 part), “Miss” Louise Strauss (beneath $80 part), prime mannequin Maggie Eckhardt (skilled fashions’ part and designer’s award) and “Miss” Gail Upton who took house the prize for the “most elegant hat”.

Quickly the competitors was creating nearly as a lot drama because the races, just like the time Madeleine Hartog-Bel, sitting on the catwalk judging the Fashions within the Area at Flemington noticed a sure “Mrs John Sparrow”, who had travelled to Melbourne from Coogee.

She paraded earlier than the choose carrying the similar outfit as Hartog-Bel had on, a nave blue and white Crimplene swimsuit.

The embarrassing interlude was captured by photographers and was splashed throughout the entrance pages of newspapers across the nation the following day.

Including additional damage, Mrs Sparrow walked away from the competitors in her Crimplene swimsuit empty-handed.

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