Melbourne Cup: Bird’s Eye View

It’s the race that all Australia stops for. This is the insider’s ticket to racing fashion at The Birdcage.

Thousands of racegoers frocked up and flocked to Flemington to see crowd favourite Fiorente sprint down the final stretch to win The Melbourne Cup. But there is one famous stretch of marquees where the style stakes are high and thoroughbred glamour rules the roost – The Birdcage enclosure.

Yes there are binoculars and much observation here, but this habitat is no nature reserve. Here the French bubbly and gold label whisky flow from gilded birdbaths, celebrities let loose and feathers fly. And this year, feathers were fashionably ruffled. From Pia Miller, the G.H.Mumm ambassador’s tidy dance moves in her heavenly ivory Johanna Johnson ostrich cloud-skirt to Danielle Spencer’s hot pink plumage at the Lexus bar.

Walking through the village of immaculate marquees, I was engulfed by a sea of colour, from acid citrus hues, like Rachael Finch’s Wayne Cooper bodycon sheath to multi culti geometric prints from Peter Pilotto, Nicholas, Camilla & Marc and Ginger & Smart.

The headwear ranged from the classic Nerida Winter creations like Coco Rocha’s prim ubersized straw bow and the edgy jockey cap style of rock star milliner Ann Shoebridge on Rachael Finch all the way to the kooky Stephen Jones paper boat hat worn by Deborah Quinn. The princess tiara was trés elegant and Kate Waterhouse’s Grecian inspired gold crown toppled Geri Halliwell’s diamonte head collar by more than a length.

Inside the opulent Johnnie Walker Gold Label marquee, old school glamour ruled. Top hats, floral headpieces and lace dresses in pretty colours. I felt quite the part in my Chanel pastel plaid jacket, 50’s-style rose print skirt and straw flat cap as I sipped a couture cocktail delicately sprinkled with gold leaf and infused with a mysterious fountain of fog.

The Lexus Marquee was a shrine to simple beauty. Modelled with a Japanese aesthetic and surrounded by bamboo and lanterns, the fashions were intriguing and architectural. Alex Ortusa wore a tight turban and her gaggle of galpals with hats of giant cherries, fluoro bows and pink lips added the “Harajuku” element to the Tokyo theme. Charlotte Dawson’s sculptural balsa wood hat by emerging designer Aniss was stunning. I was so impressed by her hat, that the charming Ms Dawson whipped out her iphone and showed me her photos of the designer’s other beautiful creations. This birdcage marquee was also the perch of many handsome drakes including the slick Jamie Drurie, who designed the wallpaper view sky deck, Gyton Grantley, looking fresh and “un-house husbandy” in a lemon Hugo Boss jacket and the charming Tim Robards, Australia’s most famous Bachelor, who was being photo-bombed by every chick in the cage (myself included.)

“Have you got an invite to Mumm?” whispered one peeptoe banana pump Louboutin clad fashionista to her Louboutin Staratat glitter sandal wearing friend. The rumours were that G.H.Mumm was a highly sought after marquee ticket for the fashion and foodie set. And this tent did not disappoint. With exquisite champagne flowing and matching canapés designed by Mark Best from Marque restaurant the fashion peacocks and socialite storks were out in force led by the glam Pia Miller.

The Myer marquee glimmered with the starwattage of Dita von Teese wearing a crisp, white Aurelio Costerella suit, dappled with orchids, and Jennifer Hawkins in a fiery red lace Yeojin Bae dress. Kris Smith and his dapper crew cornered the Aussie flora and fauna themed bar creating a scene of male perfection somewhat like zoolanders “finding their light”.

Birds of the fashionable feather, certainly do flock together. An incredible day, but despite wearing my most comfortable suede Jimmy Choo booties, my feet were telling me it was time to fly the coop.

What they wore:

Geri Halliwell- Vintage lace dress, daughters tiara
Coco Rocha – Peter pilotto geometric red and digital print dress. Nerida winter bow hat.
Dita von Teese- Aurelio Costarella white jacket and skirt. Orchid hat by Phillip Treacy.
Pia Miller – Johanna Johnson ostrich feathered skirt and top with Swarovski crystals.
Danielle Spencer – Dress by Alex Perry
Jen Hawkins – Dress by Yeojin bae, Hat by Nerida Winter
Charlotte Dawson  – Hat by Aniss
Kate Waterhouse – Dress by Peter Pilotto and Nerida Winter tiara
Brynne Edelstein – Sophia Nikitakis cut out dress
Dani and Dan from The Block – Geo print Nicholas dress
Rachael Finch – Orange Wayne Cooper dress and Ann shoebridge hat.
Liz Cambage (basketballer) – Floral dress and headpiece
Deborah & John Quinn – Stephen Jones paper boat hat and Austin Moro outfit
Gyton Grantley wearing Boss & partner Alexandra Ortuso wearing turban.
Leona Edmiston – dress from her own upcoming collection and hat by Nerida winter.



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