Fashions on the Field at The Melbourne Cup

It's time to start preparing for this year's Melbourne Cup Fashions on the Field. There are just over 100 days left before the 2014 Melbourne Cup kicks off, so there's no time like the present to start working on your race day outfit. To whet your appetite for what's to come, take a look back at some of the history of the Fashions on the Field event.

From the Beginning

The words "fashion" and "field' became synonymous in the 1950's when the Australian Women's Weekly penned a story with the title 'In the Fashion Field for Flemington". The article displayed the fashion during the Melbourne Cup Carnival, launching the use of "fashions on the field" when describing Flemington's bold and beautiful outfits.


The first official Victoria Racing Club Fashions on the Field competition took place in 1962. This followed on from 1960 initiatives by the VRC Public Relation and Promotion sub-committee to promote the Centenary Cup in new and exciting ways. By July of 1962, the contest was devised and formed part of the Racing Club's 'Fashion, Flowers and Favourites' promotion, aimed at drawing more women to the races.


Upon it's launch, the aim of the competition was "finding the smartest dressed women at the carnival within economic restraints". The prize pool consisted of cash and products to the tune of almost £7,000. The competition was divided into three sections, and the winner of each was awarded a prize. The early categories for women included one for outfits that cost £30 and under, one for those worth more than £50 and one for the most elegant hat. The entrants competed for the grand prize of a Ford Falcon Futura car, worth £1,450.


Fashions on the Field took off and grew rapidly in popularity, capturing the imagination of both the public and the press.


Myer Fashions on the Field

The Fashions on the Field event at the Melbourne Cup has come along in leaps and bounds since these humble beginnings, and now is almost as popular as the race itself.


There are currently awards for the women's and men's racewear national finals, along with Crown Oaks Day, Emirates Melbourne Cup Day and AAMI Victoria Derby Day daily finalists. There are always awards for state finalists, millinery, design and people's choice, giving race-goers plenty of opportunity to dress to impress during the carnival.


How it Works

Victorian Fashion on the Field heats run throughout the carnival, and a daily final held on Crown Oaks Day, Emirates Melbourne Cup Day and AAMI Victoria Derby Day. Daily winners compete in the Crown Oaks Day Victorian Final, with the winner of this event progressing to the national final to compete against the state finalists and the people's choice winner.


There are, of course, some criteria contestants must meet. Women's racewear contestants acknowledge they agree to and understand this criteria when they register to enter Fashions on the Field. Contestants must be aged 18 years and over, and cannot have outfits that promote commercially any store, brand or designer. Similarly, contestants can't receive third party compensation for the competition, and all female contestants must complement their racewear with headwear. Contestants can't add to or alter their outfit from the beginning of the competition (heats) through to the end (national final).


The judging is based on style and originality, attention to detail with accessories, the outfit's appropriateness for the Melbourne Cup Carnival and for the individual, grooming and the understanding and interpretation of fashion trends of the moment. Last year's Fashions on the Field event saw contestants take home $400,000 worth of prizes, and this year's spectacle is set to be better than ever.


Photo courtesy of Chris Phutully

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