Glamour galore in the Fashion Garden for 2023 Fashions on the Field

Glamour galore in the Fashion Garden for 2023 Fashions on the Field

More than one judge declared it the best Fashions on the Field they had seen in years, as the catwalk in the Fashion Garden was once again a riot of colour, personality, elegance and style in the Best Dressed and Best Suited finals.

From hand-painted gowns to those made from bed quilts, entrants displayed a unique point of view and incredible creativity. There were first-time entrants and seasoned veterans, but they all had one thing in common –  an appreciation of fashion. Racewear was exhibited in so many different ways, and the spotlight extended beyond the outfits as their millinery and headpieces also made a bold and striking statement.

We spoke to some entrants about the inspiration and effort behind their outfits.


Best Dressed

Winner – Eleanor Campbell

“A lot of people talk about how you don’t win with a Derby Day outfit because you don’t have the colour, so I was a bit nervous. Not many black-and-white ladies win, apparently, but I've done it! I’m so excited, I’m lost for words.”

Wearing a white Solace London dress and a hat by milliner Monika Neuhauser, New Zealander Eleanor was the picture of elegance. A top three finalist in the 2022 Best Dressed competition, she is no stranger to the competition, but this year she accompanied her mother, Anna, who was an international digital finalist in the Best Suited competition. “She came with me, and stole my thunder!” Anna laughed.

It was Anna who found Eleanor’s dress online and altered it to suit her daughter and the competition. “It was a bit long at the bottom so we trimmed it and used the extra fabric up around the neck to make it more elongated.”

Creating the outfits, doing the hair and makeup and entering the competitions both here and at home in New Zealand is a shared hobby of the mother-daughter duo, who are usually found on their farm covered in dog hair. “We run a doggy daycare business so we are usually dressed a lot differently to this!” Eleanor said.


Second place

Dayna Gorman

“My aunt Debbie designed my dress, using material from a quilt with an indigenous print. It’s a sort of 50s style, I guess you’d say. I am so thrilled and my aunty will be over the moon.”


Third place

Bryony Bourke

“I made my outfit myself, apart from the hat, which is by my local milliner. I used to work in costume for film and TV back home in the UK. Once I found this material, I knew it was the start of something. I wanted to create a trouser and waistcoat set. Using a vintage waistcoat pattern with a halter neck, making matching cover buttons, and using the reverse side as an accent colour way, this piece came together exactly how I imagined. My milliner used a vintage block and finished it with the detailing of the honeycomb veiling and beading.”



Best Dressed Finalists 

Sammy Smith

“I designed the whole outfit, from the dress to the millinery. I found the fabric on my honeymoon in America and just completely fell in love. I thought it was so special. I made it a few times, and on my third attempt it all came together nicely.”


Holly Keenan

“I first made the outfit in white and then I had a WA artist paint it, inspired by the bat flower. My milliner knew the concept of the dress and decided to use coral colours in her design. We then worked the bag and shoes around the millinery. This is my fifth year entering at Flemington, but this was my first sash here. I love it, it’s such a beautiful community of women.”


Emma Scodellaro

“My pants are by Tony Maticevski purchased at a sample sale. They're amazing. I just love them. They've been in my wardrobe for years and I've never had a chance to wear them. I bought some fabric to match, and designed this top myself. I used the offcuts of the fabric for the millinery. My earrings are 3D-printed, from Japan. They're ferns to match the print on the hat and the top. This is my 14th year entering.”


Sarah Kelly

“This was designed by my friend's aunt Debbie, using material from a quilt cover printed in artwork by indigenous artist, Agnes Brown. The headpiece is by Rebecca Share that she made to match the dress. I’ve entered a few competitions, but never in Melbourne, just in the Gold Coast, where I live.”


Kymberlee Cockrem

“I love the colours and softness of my headpiece. I’m a very girly girl, so as soon as I saw it, I fell in love with it. My dressmaker found the perfect fabric to complement the headpiece, then we added a beautiful big frill down my front. It’s very pink, but has beautiful subtle tones.”


Holly Webb

“I won Derby Day this year and last year as well, which was unreal because I had never been, and I don’t do too many Fashions on the Field. I usually participate in the Sale Cup, which is our local race, just the Sunday before Derby Day, and I won there as well. I love putting outfits together. It might sound silly, but I find it empowering. Putting an outfit together and feeling confident on stage – I just love it.”

The Best Dressed Top 3: L-R Bryony Bourke (Third), Eleanor Campbell (First), Dayna O'Gorman (Second)

Eleanor Campbell wins Best Dressed on Oaks Day

2023 Best Dressed and Best Suited Winners

Best Suited Award

Winner – Domingo Martinez

The Best Suited category was won by Domingo Martinez from Sydney, New South Wales wearing an upcycled suit and self-made millinery. Martinez knows all about attention-to-detail, as he is an accountant by day. It was evident in his winning suit ensemble. “Precision is crucial in my profession. A single mistake can be costly. And this outfit represents me.” The suit was impressive enough, but his hat was an incredible finishing touch that elevated the whole look. “I bought the flower on top elsewhere, and designed it to suit my personality.” And what will he do with his amazing cash prize? “I plan to help a friend who's facing financial challenges. I want to make a positive impact.”


Second place

Yohana (John Kambere)

In a double-breasted suit paired with a white Egyptian cotton French cuffed shirt, it was Kambere’s accessorises that really set him apart. From top (wide-brim brown hat with leather trim) to toe (loafers with a horse bit) and everything in between (mustard stripe tie; silk navy pocket from Naples; custom gold bracelet from Congo; timepiece with black onyx; and turquoise bracelet with pink from his mother’s collection), it was a perfectly put-together ensemble.


Third place

Bev Hendry

“I’m originally from Scotland but live in Florida in the US. I’m a horse breeder and always wanted to come to the Melbourne Cup. I entered the Best Suited competition because someone told me I should! When I got through to the final, I had to delay my flight home by a day. I was having a great time anyway, and winning third is like a bonus!

What I’m wearing reflects my Scottish heritage. Purple is symbolic of Scotland, seen in our rugby and soccer teams. The kilt represents the thistle, the national flower of Scotland. So, I started with the kilt and built up all the accessories in purple. I love it. The hat has an Australian touch, though. It’s Kangol, and I bought it here.”


Best Suited Finalists

Anna Campbell

“This suit was my own take on masculine and feminine suit styling. I was drawn to the colour and love that it is a three-piece suit. The lace turtleneck and pussy bow add femininity against the jacket. Heels and accessories are all from my own collection, and I love my fedora hat to top it off.”


Nicole Wenske

“I went for an open, bright, and bold look. I just love it so much and I think it's really reflective of my style. "I love being a little bit playful with my outfit and not too predictable."

I live in a town of only about 5000 people, so, everything was sourced online. The suit is by a Spanish designer and I had the millinery created to complement it, picking up the peonies in the print. I wanted something that was almost a cross between a hat and a fascinator. I aimed for a happy vibe without going too extravagant. The Barbie pink shirt added a bold touch as did the sparkly shoes, though I would never wear this in my hometown!”

Yohana Kambere showcasing his winning style with considered accessories from head to toe.

Comparing style notes, Yohana Kambere (second place) and Domingo Martinez (first place) for the Best Suited competition.

Bev Hendry brings his Scottish smile and style, securing third place in Best Suited.