Spring Racing is here and we couldn’t be more excited! The month of November is one of our favourites, particularly to see the fashion industry truly flourish on the fields.
We took a trip back in time and discovered what were the most common headwear choices at the races over the past seven decades. From Farrah Fawcett waves to Paris Hilton’s strands, check out below the evolution of style starting all the way from the 50’s.
The 1950’s was all about the New Look pioneered by Christian Dior. Women were wearing elegant hats with soft brims that framed the face and complemented the dewdrop dresses of the time. Hair was pinned in soft curls towards the back of the head with a few curls left free by the face. Setting was still hugely popular so curls sat close to the head with limited natural bounce or movement. Contemporary MakeUp was still in its infancy, with a heavily powdered finish and a tendency towards a pale complexion, finished with a swoosh of winged liner and a red defined lip.
The 1960’s saw Mod Chic take over the fashions on the fields with the attendance of Jean Shrimpton at the 196X Melbourne Cup. Jean wore a teensy shift dress with a rounded cap and Melbourne women followed suit, with small, cute caps with upturned brims taking centre stage. Many women chose to chop off their hair in the 1960’s, following Twiggy’s infamous close cropped bob, and these small caps helped to show off the accompanying curtain fringe which was all the rage. MakeUp was of course the iconic 60’s heavy eye with white inner lining that makes the eyes really pop, coupled with a more neutral lip.
Farrah Fawcett waves and crème shimmer eyeshadows were all the rage in the 70’s. Hats morphed from small caps in the 60’s to full brimmed straw styles to complement the new focus on the natural yet sexy sultress. Innovations in MakeUp formulations meant gone were the days of the perfect ‘made-up look’. Instead women could now portray a more natural look than ever before, enhanced of course by the latest craze of crème shimmer shadows and the new must-have product ‘bronzer’. Hair styles were split between elongated dead straight styles reminiscent of Cher and the more feminine flicky waves popularised by Farrah Fawcett.
The era of the Avant Garde. Styles in the 1980’s were all about going overtop and challenging traditional conceptions of femininity. From the hair and makeup, to the hats and accessories, women all over the globe were going bigger and better. Hair was teased, curled and permed before often being secured on one side for an asymmetrical style. MakeUp was all about the heavy blue eyeshadow and strong rouge across the cheekbones. A strong lip in a clashing colour was also popular. Hats themselves came in various styles, but all shared one thing, an avant garde statement. Some women went bigger is better, adorning conceptual crowns and artistic statements, but by far the most popular look was the tulle and masculine top hat ensemble reminiscent of Madonna and her fiercely female and gender-norms challenging ethos.
In a reaction to the over the top aesthetic of the 1980’s, the 1990’s had a more pared down elegance. The era of the SuperModel and a renewed focus on High Fashion saw women adopt a more classic look. The 90’s ‘supermodel blowdry’ was a huge hit, with locked in brushes creating a blow wave that had face framing structure, volume and just a tiny bit of frizz. Sex and glamour was back but in a more subtle way than before. MakeUp was still refined with matt finish foundations, soft smoky eyes, thinned arched eyebrows and of course, the outer lined nude lip. Hat’s too took on more classic and traditional shapes with enlarged brims suggestive of opulence. Flowers began to adorn the tops of hats to add further flair.
The Noughties were when the celebrity craze really started to take over the focus at the Spring Racing Carnival. Paris and Nikki Hilton’s attendance in 200X boosted interest in the race, and the fashions, from a younger generation and popularised the shift away from hats and towards flouncy fascinators. Suddenly hat’s were passe and every woman wanted to wear a more conceptual adornment. Contoured bows and ribbons on thick satin headbands were all the rage, as were girly feathered creations. With the arrival of the hair straightener hair styles were revolutionised and gone were the bouncy curls of the 1990s. Instead women opted for sleek and straight tresses, smoothed with a hint of oil. And who could forget the infamous ‘slut strands’ or face framing strips of highly oiled hair that sat distinctly away from the rest of the hair. MakeUp was more girly too. Pastel blue and pink eye shadows, shimmer cheek gel and high gloss lips in co-ordinating pastel tones completed the look.
The era of the ‘Insta-Princess’ complete with her flower crown. The complex fascinators of the Noughties were refined and reformed into simple yet chic headbands with minimal height. Metalwork began to creep in, with gold and silver flowers, arrows and even thorns adorned on thin, barely there, headbands. Unlike other racing events like Royal Ascot where women are required to wear a hat with a base of at least 10cm in diameter, the Melbourne Cup has no strict rules for headwear, enabling women to embrace minimalistic trends or even go without. Hair and MakeUp focused around a refined natural aesthetic, harking back to the 1970’s but with added chic. The development of the GHD with it’s curved sides enabled women to create a thin smooth curl that drop into faux-natural waves with time. MakeUp furthered the faux-natural aesthetic, with smooth bases, contouring and a soft brown smoky eye. Lips complemented in soft natural tones of nude, pink and peach.
2018 and beyond:
As the 2010’s begin to draw to a close, we predict consumers will move back towards a refined elegance, largely in thanks to Royal Fever and a complete obsession with Meghan Markle. Meghan Markle’s championing of the side-styled or slanted hat at numerous events throughout 2018 will undoubtedly result in a myriad of copycat’s at this year’s Cup. We’ve had a focus on fascinators for almost 20 years now, so consumers are keen to explore some more traditional aesthetics and that hat is poised to make a comeback. Continuing with reference to Meghan’s sleek and structured approach to cocktail dressing we will see a move away from the curled tresses of the twisty blow dry and towards more ‘done’ styles, with the low bun no doubt to be a huge winner. MakeUp will be natural with fresh faces, dewy complexions and neutral lips and eyes completing the look. Women want to feel effortless in their beauty and refined in their chosen aesthetic.
So, there you have it. Which style was your favourite? We'll take one of each hats please!