What a week! Derby Day, Melbourne Cup Day and Crown Oaks Day.

I’ve attended all three days for the past two years and, although it is a lot of fun, Spring Carnival is a full on week. And I don’t travel light either. So, with two big suitcases, 40kg of luggage and 5 hats, off to Melbourne I flew for Spring Carnival.

airport transport millinery hat box

A Tour of the New Flemington Park

The Grounds

The Park is the newest addition to Flemington Racecourse. The area is at the back of Flemington and entry is free to all ticket holders. I’m grateful to the marketing genius who came up with the idea!

In terms of visual appeal, it’s gorgeous. From the moment you walk through the gold and green leafy arches, it’s as if you’ve stepped into a mini carnival!

Flemington new the Park

It was wonderful to have somewhere for all the ladies to gather and socialize during Spring Carnival – and there are a lot of us!

Usually we are allocated a few small tables in the fashions enclosure, which is trackside, but if you don’t have a table you stand around awkwardly wondering where to put yourself.

In the new park there are lots more tables, and activities to do together during the down time.

Activities like …

The Ferris Wheel (!)

They’ve really gone all out on the attractions… what carnival isn’t complete without a Ferris Wheel?

If I wasn’t so scared of heights, I would have gone for a spin- it looked so cute with its little red carriages.

flemington the park ferris wheel

But there is something for everyone at Flemington Racecourse, and I thought it only appropriate I ride a horse- on the Merry Go Round that is.

flemington spring carnival merry go round

The Karaoke Stage

I’ve always wanted to be a Japanese Pop Star. The only problem is I can’t sing to save my life.

So when a group of us fashion ladies discovered the Karaoke enclosure, there were no problems getting me on stage! I enjoyed having a boogie, others played blow up balloon instruments and we all sang along to Aretha Franklin’s Respect.

I’m not sure if it was the inner Japanese-popstar-diva in me, or the champagne, but it was so fun! And even if you can’t sing, you still get a $30 TAB voucher for trying. Hooray!

The Food Stands

Although Flemington Racecourse does have some decent meals for hungry punters, Flemington Park only has, well, treats!! FREE pink fairy floss, donuts and (almost as if they knew I was coming) messina gelato!

Milano Imai Flemington Ferry Floss

Some finger food like hot chips and mini spring rolls were also available (yes, I indulged) and next door to me was a Greek tent, complete with dancing men in overalls- hubba hubba.

The Stunning Backdrops

There are so many great locations for photo’s inside The Park. My favourite being The Pink Room, which had this incredible grey horse statue with balloons for a head!!

If you get to the enclosure between 10 and 11am, there are a lot of photographers hanging around too, so it’s a great opportunity to get pap’d!!

The Park Interior Decorations

milano imai photo shoot horse balloons

flemington photo backdrop

What I Wore at Spring Carnival

Derby Day

Derby Day is always a lot of fun and, being on a Saturday, Flemington is packed with racegoers.

The sea of black and white is a beautiful sight and people-watching is at its peak. The fashions competition in Melbourne is always tough though, with over 300 women entering each day, so outfit choices get quite serious!

2016 flemington derby day highlights

black and white derby day

This year I decided to wear an outfit I wore earlier in the year, to Stradbroke Cup. I did change my millinery though, choosing a beautiful, black, wide-brim boater by @marilynvandenberg.

recycle rewear derby day stradbroke cup day

Melbourne Cup

Usually there’s at least one rainy, cold day during Spring Carnival and this year, it was Melbourne Cup Day. The morning started out a little chilly, but the sun was out and I thought things were looking good.

I wore a navy and gold lace dress with fabric I purchased earlier in the year whilst on my holiday in China. My friend Andrew and I collaborated on the design and ended up with a beautiful pencil dress with flared sleeves.

@peacockmillinery made me the most beautiful hat (ever) out of vintage Swiss braid, with coral and navy flowers and gold leafing.

fashion design sketch for spring carnival

melbourne cup dress custom made

The actual Fashions on the Field comp succeeded in beating the incoming rain, but it was definitely windy and cold!! Despite the blustery conditions, we all plastered on a smile and hit the catwalk.

There was no shortage of beautiful outfits on show and I made it to the top ten! Thrilled.

Oaks Day

Another beautiful day at The Park for Oaks Day. This time it was sunny and hot (typical Melbourne?) and I was glad to be wearing a sleeveless number and wide brimmed hat.

night garden dress oaks day 2016

Image credit: @richshawphoto

I wore my night garden dress again (the fourth time wearing it!!), but added new embellishments.

I re-wore my Derby Day hat, but sewed on some flowers I pinched from another hat, to tie in the colours. Again I made it to top 10!

oaks day 2016 flemington

Back Stage – an Insider’s View

My favourite thing about being backstage is… the free alcohol! What? It’s been an expensive week!

If you make it past the first heat, you get to go backstage. There is a little waiting room there, which gets very squishy.

Imagine, oh, between 50 to 90 women all in big frocks made with layers and layers of fabric. On top of that is the headwear, some of which could poke an eye out if left unawares.

It should have an ENTER AT OWN RISK sign parked at the door.

behind the scenes myer fotf competition

This video shows just how crowded it can get back stage.

backstage fotf competition

The little squishy room does provide a great opportunity to make new race friends, help someone re-align a skewwhiff skirt or tuck in a top, point out some lippy on teeth, discuss cat walk tips and, most importantly, compliment each other on their efforts.

This video was taken backstage on Oak’s Day and captures the excitement and anticipation of all the competition entrants.