Autumn Racing Fashions

A line of well-groomed fillies and colts parade before the punters in the topiary and rose-filled enclosure. But there's not a piece of turf nor a sweaty flank in sight.

This is not Randwick, Flemington or Doomben, but David Jones and the launch of its autumn racewear.

In a tent-like room, draped in metres of cream gauze, socialites and racing identities, including Jodie Gordon and Bridget and Charlotte Holmes a Court, sipped on Veuve Cliquot and nibbled on chicken sandwiches and strawberry petits fours as the parade began.

Statuesque in a taupe Carla Zampatti dress and very high Fendi sandals - "I have one word for them: comfortable" - DJs' ambassador Megan Gale introduced "the racing fashion police", trainer Gai Waterhouse and Emma Freedman, who "called" the catwalk.

Model Samantha Harris kicked off the parade in a bold charcoal short-tailed tuxedo, followed by models in dresses, skirts and blouses in champagne, violet, tangerine, mustard, orange and electric blue, offset by hats, gloves and bright patent stilettoes.

Red and camel are the new tones - red in gloves, shoes and hats, to contrast with blues, blacks and creams. Lisa Ho boasts an elegant camel pantsuit.

Hats range from small fascinators to large and floppy, as well as stylish boaters and even berets. Gloves and clutches finish the look. Hosiery is opaque black, shoes continue to send the wearer ever skyward.

This season features structured dresses, pencil skirts, with a return to the elegance and style of the 50s and 60s. But the new trends also include pantsuits and graphic prints.

Traditionally it's black and white for Derby Day, which kicks off Royal Randwick on April 9 - cream dresses, contrasted with black accessories, black lace dresses with black gloves, and a fabulous cream and black fedora by Phillip Treacy.

For men, the look departs from the black suit, black tie, white shirt. There are leather lapels, matching spotted ties and pouchettes or pocket squares. Suits are softly checked in steel blues and greys, shirts are striped, textured, and some come with white collars.

"The races allow men to break out of the mould and experiment with colour and style," says Zanerobe's Leith Testoni.

"There's a new dandy look, and you'll see a lot more bow ties and braces."

Where Derby Day fashion is prescriptive with colour, Doncaster Day and Sydney Cup Day are "brighter and bolder with sophisticated tailoring", according to Freedman.

The TV personality and daughter of racing trainer Lee Freedman has grown up with racing fashion since selecting race outfits for her mother.

She offered her three fundamental tips: outfits should be just above the knee, no higher; don't show too much cleavage; and wear something with a sleeve.

"You're not dressing for a nightclub, but for a sport based on tradition," she said.

Gale warns against trialling a brand new pair of shoes on race day, saying women should break them in beforehand. "It's such a long day," she says.

Waterhouse, chic in Missoni an Chloe, says the racecourse is one of the "few places where we can be women and dress up. It's got sex appeal like nothing else has".

After all, she says, it has long served as a showcase for new fashion. Think Jean Shrimpton in her mini shocking the fashionistas at the Melbourne Cup in 1965.

She was quick to offer up her tips for Doncaster Day ("My dos - I have to win. My don'ts - I can't lose"), urging punters to watch out for More Joyous, Herculian Prince and Pureness.

By Virginia Ginnane, AAP


AAP

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