Hats Off to Spring Racing’s Hottest Headwear Trends


It’s that time of year again, Spring Racing has come to town and we’ve all got fascinator fever. Not to deter from the stallions that made these events possible, but what will you wear? 

Before it’s bets on and bottoms up you have to decide what to don while cheering trackside. The secret is to start your search early. A last minute hat looks just that, last minute. And if you’re doing it right it should be the centrepiece.

We’ve put together a guide to the top trends and best milliners for a little guidance. And if you’re still stuck, hit up Melbourne’s MAArvelous Millinery cocktail event for a spectacular hat parade and pop-up market to inspire your look.

The Trends

  • Bold prints. Mix the traditional with the digital via buzzy, photographic dresses paired with a block colour topper in a complimentary hue.
  • Ladylike lace. Not just for nanas, make a statement with architectural sculptures and laser-cut lace effects.
  • Florals. Never not in. Keep your headwear abstract for a more modern take.  
  • Louche tailoring. Pair drapey Riviera-chic silhouettes with chunky sunglasses and simple, structured millinery.

The Milliners


Danica Erard

The NSW town of Deniliquin might be better known for the Deni Ute Muster than the races, but it’s there that award winning milliner and designer Denica Erard’s Spring/Summer race collection is taking off. If you want to add some edge to your trackside ensemble without causing pearl clutching, she’s your woman. Her pieces incorporate laser cutting and the latest 3D printing technology to create headpieces that play with athleticism and architecture without sacrificing femininity.


Suzy O’Rourke

In the pursuit of elegance and meticulously divine detail? Hit up Sydney-based Suzy, who blends her love of sculpture, luxurious materials, and couture-level drama with a dash of the unexpected. Each season Suzy takes inspiration from a theme, with whimsical fairgrounds, and avant garde “Geo-Mod-Chic” all having influenced her designs. ‘Ready-to-Race’ styles, an alternative to her handcrafted custom pieces, are also plenty dazzling.


Kerrie Stanley

Millinery maestro Kerrie Stanley is a solid favourite on race day, now infamous for the controversial chic Princess Beatrice tribute hat Andreja Pejic tried to wear to the 2012 Melbourne Cup Carnival. But not all her pieces are so outré. The elegantly sculptural feather feature headbands are sure to convert even the most vehement of fascinator opponents.


Julie Fleming

Scream spring with romantic floral garlands, delicate headbands, and rustic-yet-ladylike straw masterpieces from Australia’s longest-established fashion milliner, Melbourne’s own Julie Fleming. If you can’t quite find the classic navy Ascot or towering taupe sensation to suit, she even does hat making lessons in her sunny Prahran studio if DIY is indeed your thing (minus the cheap feathers and PVA glue.)


Scally and Trombone

If you want to stand out in the most outrageous yet perfectly adorable way possible, check out the new range of spring racing fascinators from accessories playground Scally and Trombone. Nowhere in the race trends rulebook does it say dinosaurs  are inappropriate accoutrements. And the best part is that you can slip on those fold-up flats at 3pm without anyone noticing, because girl, no one’s looking at your feet. 

The Event: MAArvellous Millinery

Need more of the races fashion but not necessarily the horses? This is the event for you. 

Hosted by the Millinery Association of Australia, you know the hats here are going to be the pick of the bunch. Over canapés and a glass of bubbles, watch the spectacular hat parade, which showcases hats that are a true work of art; think impressionist movement, classicism, cubism and symbolism inspirations. After you’ve recovered from the sheer genius of what a woman can do with a single headpiece, check out the pop-up stores of the 23 talented Australian milliners present. Try on all the latest styles and purchase your racing headwear right then and there.

Tickets are $70, with a percentage of sales going towards mental health research in support of the Australian Rotary Health’s Hat Day. There’s also a $350 millinery voucher up for grabs for the most outstanding cocktail hat on the night. 

MAArvellous Millinery
October 2, 2014 at 6.30pm
ANZ Pavilion, Victorian Arts Centre
100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne 3004
Buy tickets

Your Spring Racing Social Calendar

Now that you’ve figured out the frock and fascinator, you need somewhere to be! Make your debut at one of the top four Spring Racing Carnivals.

AAMI Victoria Derby Day – Saturday 1 November 2014

Derby Day is one of the most prestigious days of racing in Australasia, and the dress code is strictly black and white. Fellers, try a grey morning suit, peacock vest and pin-stripe pants; you’ll fit right in. The official flower? The cornflower.

Emirates Melbourne Cup Day – Tuesday 4 November 2014

They don’t call it ‘The Race That Stops a Nation’ for nothing. Melbournians even have a day off work for this one. Get out there amongst the 100,000 plus crowd to experience this unbelievable event. Fashionwise, today’s the day to make a statement. Be outrageous, don’t forget your super hat, and guys, pop a yellow rose in your lapel.

Crown Oaks Day – Thursday 6 November 2014

Ladies, this is your day. Opt for romantic, feminine dresses and re-discover the art of dressing up. If you’re heading to Flemington for this one, don’t forget to wear the official flower of Crown Oaks Day, a pink rose.

Emirates Stakes Day – Saturday, 8 November 2014

This is a good one for gathering family and friends for a fun day out. Yes, children are welcome. Wondering what to wear? The dress code is more about relaxed style. Bit of a pageant mum? Well enter your little one (if aged six to 17) in the Emirates Stakes Day Fashions on the Field’s dedicated Family Category. For your flower, it’s all about the red rose.

Find a Spring Racing Carnival at racing.com/spring

About the author


Born from a desire to perfect personal music listening, the Powerbeats Pro earphones are certainly stepping up the game. Even just opening the packaging brings drama as you peel back layers of packaging to find the metal earphones case.

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