Finally, some drama: Oaks Day’s best dressed

Finally, some drama: Oaks Day’s best dressed

November 15, 2023

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Racing is about luck, and it was a case of three times the charm on Oaks Day, which finally found some Goldilocks weather, and, along with it, the best fashions of the carnival.

While the moniker “ladies’ day” is considered by some as old hat, racing royalty Kate Waterhouse says it’s better to think about it as a fashion directive, rather than something you’d see on a ’90s nightclub poster. “It’s more of a dress code for me,” says the media personality and daughter of champion trainer Gai Waterhouse.

Ceri McVinnie from New Zealand wears a hat by Claire Hahn.Credit: Eddie Jim

Waterhouse completed her Cup week trifecta in a new-season Zimmermann dress that some observed gave “the dancing lady emoji, but in white”. After a week of quite staid looks across the course, the drama was a welcome development.

One place never short on drama is the Fashions on the Field stage, where best-suited was won by first-time entrant Domingo Martinez of Sydney, while New Zealander Eleanor Campbell won the best-dressed final.

Kate Waterhouse: Flamenco femme

Kate Waterhouse in Zimmermann (left) and the runway look from the brand’s resort 2024 collection.Credit: Eddie Jim/supplied

Dress: Zimmermann
Hair tie: Ezara J
Shoes: Gucci
Bag: Dior

White may be one of the codes of Derby Day, but it was also a popular colour on Oaks Day, with many celebrities shirking the traditional purple or pink for a cleaner palette. “I wanted to go with a feminine theme, but I went more for the fabrication being floral than the pastels, which is what I usually do,” she says.

Elle Baillieu: Euro glam

Elle Baillieu turned to Melbourne fashion institution Le Louvre for her colourful look.Credit: Eddie Jim

Dress: Dolce & Gabbana
Hat/necklace: Ermanno Scervino
Shoes: Gucci
Bag: Prada

Photographer and content creator Elle Baillieu, daughter of former Victorian premier Ted Baillieu, loves to raid her mother Robyn’s wardrobe for her race-day looks. But for Oaks Day, she leaned on Melbourne fashion institution Le Louvre for her colourful look. “They wanted to get me in some colour because, typically, I wear so much white and black,” she says.

Rozalia Russian: Blushing ballerina

Rozalia RussianCredit: Eddie Jim

Dress: Mariam Seddiq
Shoes: Paris Texas
Bag: Bulgari

Speaking of playing characters, fashion identity Rozalia Russian says she loves picking a character to play each race day. Her Oaks Day persona? “Edgy ballerina,” she says. So, what was Tuesday, when she wore a structured mulberry suit and felt hat? “First lady, with a touch of Bond villain.”

David Hicks: Prince of zen

David HicksCredit: Eddie Jim

Suit: Dolce & Gabbana
Shirt/tie: Prada
Shoes: Christian Louboutin

“I was going for a Georgie Hamilton vibe,” says interior designer David Hicks. “It’s chic and casual at the same time.” Hicks, who was lunching at the Lexus marquee, says he loves “layering between relaxed and very dressed up. It’s wabi-sabi [the Japanese design principle of “imperfect” beauty], isn’t it?”

Lady Eliza and Lady Amelia Spencer: Royal flush

Lady Amelia (left) and Lady Eliza Spencer.Credit: Eddie Jim

Outfit: Maticevski (Eliza) and Cappellazzo Couture (Amelia)
Shoes: Balmain (Eliza) and Alexandre Vauthier (Amelia), both from Miss Louise
Headpiece: House of Emmanuele (Eliza) and Stephanie Browne (Amelia)
Bag: Olga Berg (Eliza) and Stephanie Browne (Amelia)

After a week of press engagements and outfits, the Spencer twins, nieces of the late Princess Diana, saved their best for last. Lady Amelia says she’s a fan of the ’80s, but the sisters say they looked to the theme of each race day to devise their looks with their Australian styling team, which included Kirsty McBeath and Richard Nylon.

Says Amelia: “We knew we wanted to work exclusively with Australian designers … it was difficult finalising each look because there were so many to choose from.”

Adds Eliza: “It’s amazing how well they got to know our personalities over the two months, over WhatsApp and Skype.”

Asked for their three fashion words, the sisters, who frequently finish each other’s sentences, say: “Strong, feminine and elegant. That definitely describes us best.”

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