The Melbourne Cup Carnival is just around the corner, and the perfect opportunity to take 5 with London based Australian milliner (and good friend), Lisa Tan, to get some insider tips for the 2016 spring racing carnival.
- It’s that time of year again – time flies when you are having fun. What horse racing events have you travelled to so far this year?
Haha, I’m losing count a little! The beginning of the year was quiet, but then it started with the Grand National at Aintree and hasn’t stopped since. Epsom Oaks Day was next, followed by Royal Ascot, Newmarket July Festival and the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown. I’ve just returned from the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, which was held at Chantilly for the first time this year while Longchamp is redeveloped, and I’m squeezing in another trip to Newmarket for Future Champions Day before heading back to Melbourne for the Cup Carnival.
- You travel to Melbourne every year from London for Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival – that’s quite a commitment! What entices you to keep coming back year on year?
A combination of work and good memories. It’s when I get a chance to show the buyers my new collection, which will hit shelves the following year, and it’s also my yearly catch-up with family and friends. The atmosphere in Melbourne is incredible at that time of year, it’s definitely the best time to be there – regardless of whether you’re a racing fan or not.
- There are 4 event days during the Melbourne Cup Carnival – Derby Day, Melbourne Cup, Oaks Day and Stake Day. What is your favourite day of the spring racing carnival and why?
My favourite has always been Melbourne Cup Day. I know a few purists who steer well clear of Flemington on Cup Day because it’s not particularly known as a ‘good’ racing day, but I’ve always loved the excitement and colour of Cup Day.
- Melbourne Cup is arguably the most famous event on the Australian racing calendar, quite literally the race which stop the nation. Where can we expect to find you on track this year?
I’ll swing by Myer Fashions on the Field in the morning to have a peek at the outfits on display – I feel like the most creative looks come out on Cup Day. Then I’ll spend the afternoon in the Myer Marquee – it has the best atmosphere on Cup Day and everyone’s in high spirits, plus from its position in the Birdcage you can actually see the course!
- You are a seasoned traveller whether it be to attend racing events or simply exploring new destinations for pleasure. What advice can you give to those travelling to Melbourne from out of town to attend the carnival?
Make sure you travel on an airline that gives you plenty of luggage allowance! Don’t worry about packing your hats in fancy boxes – mine travel in sturdy cardboard packing boxes and are checked-in rather than taken on board. I usually stay at a hotel or Airbnb close to Flinders Street Station as I always take the train to Flemington – don’t take a cab, you will get stuck in traffic! Melbourne’s also a gastronomic city and it’s worth making bookings at restaurants well in advance of arriving as they tend to book out quickly.
- And finally, you are my style guru and I can’t live without your advice when it comes to choosing my outfits for the races! What fashion trends can we expect to see trackside this year?
Haha, aww you are too kind!! In millinery, there are two key looks – the brimmed hat (usually a boater) or the decorated headband. Most of us milliners are rejoicing at the return of the brim, but the headband trend continues to stay strong, with either veiling or gilded adornments as the looks of choice. Clothing-wise, I feel like there’s a return to elegant, tailored looks in simple, block colours, but I’m sure there’s always room for a statement print or Self-Portrait dress.
Thank you for your time and insights Lisa. Good luck with your preparations and we look forward to seeing you trackside at Flemington in late October!
Lisa’s millinery is renowned for fusing classic styling with a modern edge to produce distinctive silhouettes with a less-is-more aesthetic.
Her unique knowledge of racewear styling is highly sought-after in Australia, where she is often invited to judge the Myer Fashions on the Field competitions and you will see many celebrities flaunting her millinery.