Racegoers bring 'impressive' fashion to Derby Day
While most punters glammed it up in black and white for Derby Day, some dodged the dress code and arrived in Oompa-Loompa outfits.PT2M9S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2wt3e 620 349 November 2, 2013
In my regulation black suit and tie and white shirt, I feel as though I have the Derby day dress code down pat; but no sooner have I joined the racegoers on the Flemington lawn than I have outed myself as a fashion dilettante.
I stop Lucy Hoolihan, a nurse from Canberra, in her tracks to compliment her on her chic black and white two-piece, and a fabulous hat made of swirls of fabric held together by two long pins that look a little like Magpies-themed chopsticks.
Lucy tells me she made the hat herself, out of sinamay and ginseng, in a three-week labour of love.
Where's Willy: Seven Oompa Loompas attend Derby Day. Photo: Mal Fairclough
''Sounds like something herbal you'd brew to get over the sniffles,'' I say.
''They're milliner fabrics; any milliner would know what I'm talking about,'' Lucy replies with a hint of reproach.
Lucy's elegant outfit won her a place in the preliminary finals of Fashions on the Field, although she missed a spot in the top 10.
Derby Day Fashions at Flemington
Jennifer Hawkins at the Myer marquee at the races in Flemington on Saturday. Photo: luis Enrique Ascui
''It's stiff competition, everyone looks very stylish,'' she says. ''Now, I'm ready to do some betting and some champagne drinking.''
And with that I lose her to the crowd, which is also looking stylish in the main, on a day when the course is bathed in sunshine, and the hour is just past midday, the bottles of bubbly and cans of beer and pre-mix yet to turn the tone from chic to shabby.
Less preoccupied with fashion, but certainly with having fun, is Sydneysider Kirby Bosden, who has flown south with a small army of girlfriends for her hen's day. She is dressed in a skimpy maid costume, with a hot pink sash draped over her shoulder that is marked ''Bride to Be''.
''It's my first experience at the races in Melbourne and I'm ready for a big one,'' Kirby tells me. ''Twenty-seven girls made the trip down from Sydney just for me, so I'm feeling very loved.''
In the warren of copiously branded marquees for society's insiders called the Birdcage, I bump into Minister for Ports David Hodgett, who tells me he is no regular racegoer. Nor is his wife Tina, although she has taken to the sport instantly.
''I've created a monster out of my wife; she's betting away on everything,'' the minister says.
I ask Tina if she has backed a winner in her flurry of bets. She hasn't.
I then meet Nikki Valmorbida, who tells me she flies here from New York every year for racing week. ''I love horses; my family is in racing and we have two horses running today, so we'll see how we go,'' she says.
Having no clue, I ask her for a tip.
''Honey Steel's Gold, in race five, I think. I should know that, shouldn't I? Bet on it.''
I don't have a form guide, but I have Metro's Uninformed Guide, a piss-take pamphlet I picked up at the train station on the way here, which confirms the horse is actually running in race six, the Victoria Derby. But who's quibbling?
Certainly not the roaring crowd when a horse named Polanski crosses the line lengths ahead of the field in the main race. Surely not even Roman moved as fast when he fled to London to avoid doing time in America all those years ago.
Seven overgrown Oompa Loompas in curly green wigs and orange face paint have set up camp by the rails. They shout unintelligible ''encouragement'' at the jockeys as their horses canter past on the way to the starting gates for race eight. Amazingly, attractive women are lining up to be photographed with them.
I ask them why they are dressed as Oompa Loompas.
''Just for something different. Last year we came as Smurfs,'' one tells me.
By now, some on the lawn are turning a touch ratty, as the sun and the alcohol have started to bite. But most are keeping themselves nice.
Police said there were just four arrests for drunkenness by the time the last race was run.