The first and arguably most glamorous day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, Derby Day again dished up trends we didn’t expect, streaky spray tans and lot of celebrity gossip. In keeping with the Derby Day weather curse, Mother Nature proved her scathing best, gifting race-goers rain, wind and thunder – birthing a style we’ve affectionately coined ‘brolley-chic’.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 02: Rebecca Harding and Andy Lee poses at Seppel marquee Derby Day at Flemington Racecourse on November 02, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mackenzie Sweetnam/Getty Images)

From rain accoutrements to blasphemous cut-outs, here are our musings from the Derby Day that was.

save it for a rainy day
The indubitable style star of Derby Day 2019 was the umbrella and the plastic poncho. Recalling Chanel Spring-Summer 18 (but less chic), the hooded plastic anorak was out in full force (along with some makeshift renditions), while an umbrella was the day’s hot property, many playing musical umbrellas as they marquee-hopped.


She’s a lady
Derby Day 2019 saw a strange style dichotomy between glamorous seduction and ladylike dressing. On the one hand, slinky form-fitting dresses and forbidden, midriff-baring cut-outs (according to VRC dress codes, “Garments which show midriff” are a strict no-no), which didn’t stop Nadia Bartel, Rozalia Russian and Elyse Knowles flouting the fashion rules with a little peek-a-boo waist in the form of Dion Lee’s Viscose Jersey Gather Dress, Lïllïan Khallouf and custom Anna Quan. On the other, puff-ball silhouettes, Peter Pan collars and the unexpected return of the bow, which adorned girlish half-up, half-down hairstyles. Props to Sydney’s most fabulous fashion duo Christian Wilkins and Andy Kelly, who put the lady in ladylike with their rendition of Picnic at Hanging Rock, or rather ‘Picnic at Hanging Frock’. Wilkins recalled Rodarte Spring 18 with tuffs of sculptural baby breath paired with a Comme des Garçon skirt and lace shirt layered underneath a puffy-shouldered white Jacquemus top, while Andy too took his cues from the French designer wearing his oversized straw boater paired with a cream Chantilly lace skirt by Melbourne up-and-comer Jarrod Reid.


Green is the new orange
There’s no denying the Spring Racing Carnival has become as much about the spray tan as it has the horses, with tanning salons around Melbourne booked out for months in the lead-up to the Carnival. Bright orange spray tans have long been the fodder of Cup gossip, but this year saw an even stranger turn, with shades of green usurping traditional tones of orange as girls went so gung-ho on the colour dial it turned them a not-so brilliant shade of green. As for that rain, well, we’ll leave that up to your imagination on how that played out.

All white is the all-star
Interestingly, Derby Day’s ‘black and white’ dress code was adhered to in the Birdcage, with almost every patron championing a colourless palette. However, for many, black was fashionably ditched in favour of all-white ensembles (or a variation of) which ruled the marquees, with Brooke Hogan, Nadia Bartel, Marina Didovich, Carmen Hamilton, Jodi Gordon and Bec Judd opting for head-to-toe whites.


Headbands vs wide brims
Up top, another style conflict: the slender headband versus the super wide brim hat. The feathery fascinators and flower crowns of yesteryear were all but a distant memory as the thick headband won best new talent for 2019, the roll-on trend from Prada’s silk-satin headband from Spring 18. On the other side of the spectrum, gargantuan hats proved logistically nightmarish but stylistically dreamy, with many finessing their under-brim air kiss.


The poodle perm
Ah, the weather. Was there a more talked about topic? Derby Day’s curse of inclement weather lived on, with heavy rain, wind – even thunder – lashing the track causing some major interference with hair and makeup. Despite the best efforts of in-marquee glam squads in Lexus (thanks to Mecca Cosmetica) and Channel 10, the frizz and fuzz could not be tamed for most, including this editor, who arrived with perfectly smooth coif and left with wiry Carrie Bradshaw curls. A slick up ‘do is most certainly in order for next Derby Day.