All the hits – and a few misses – in the fashion stakes at this year’s 163rd Melbourne Cup

With a newly relaxed dress code, the 163rd Melbourne Cup – and the biggest fashion day on the Australian sports calendar – delivered a spectacularly diverse fashion mix with very few faux pas.

From retiring jockey and Ten commentator Michelle Payne’s satin pale pink shoestring strap gown to Australia’s fashion royalty, social media influencers, Fashions on the Field participants and everyday revellers, there was plenty of praise for elegance, originality and flair.

The track was transformed into a sea of bright hats, suits and sunglasses while punters finally got to enjoy some decent Melbourne weather to watch the $8.4 million race.

Celebrities and fashionistas arrived early at the exclusive Birdcage enclosure, including Princess Diana’s nieces, Lady Amelia and Eliza Spencer, who dazzled in bright red dresses by Melbourne designer Cappellazzo Couture.

Internationally renowned Australian model Adut Akech turned heads on her return visit to Flemington.

“This is my second time attending the Melbourne Cup. I came last year, and the fashion last year was just so wild – and that’s part of the reason I came back again this year, just to see everybody’s fashion,” she told Vogue Australia’s roving reporter.

“There’s a few dresses that I’ve seen today that are really amazing, for sure.”

The Victoria Racing Club said 84,492 people were at Tuesday’s Cup – a 15 per cent increase from last year.

Matildas star Cortnee Vine said she was enjoying some downtime as she recovered from a hamstring injury and would not celebrate too hard in the marquees.

“Not too much dancing, but a lot of cheering,” Vine told reporters.

Delta Goodrem chose a bright yellow dress in a nod to the colour of the Cup day rose and said she was excited to sing at the event again as it was close to her heart.

“I have very fond memories of being at school,” Goodrem said.

“They would wheel in the TV and everybody in the class would talk about what horse they were betting on – and I love tradition.”

Tennis champ Thanasi Kokkinakis wore a cool green suit while his girlfriend Hannah Dal Sasso chose a pink satin gown.

Vogue said the fashion-conscious stuck “with the long-standing trend of bright shades, reds and intense fuchsia while many opted for pastels and candy shades, dusty blue and minty green”.

“Matching the pillbox hat to the sheath dress to the slingback kitten heel was particularly beloved by fashionable spectators this year,” it wrote.

Let’s take a look!

Samuel Elkhier and South Sudanese-Australian supermodel Adut Akech at The Birdcage on Melbourne Cup day. Photo: AAP

Over near the mounting yard, Gold Coast residents Ngarie Mackey and Donna Clarke soaked up the sun and took in the bustling atmosphere.

The pair took a cruise down from Sydney for what they described as a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“We’re here for the champagne and the fashion,” Mackey told AAP with a smile.

“We didn’t even know what horses were running until yesterday.”

An all-star entertainment line-up – including Goodrem, former Noiseworks singer Jon Stevens and Natalie Imbruglia – performed before the race.

Vauban had been the favourite to win the world’s richest two-mile horse race and attracted very large bets in the days leading up to the race, according to UK-based bookmaker and Star Sports owner Ben Keith.

“People were having (bets of) hundreds of thousands,” he said.

Die-hard racing fan Pat Bortaro stationed himself in front of the screens in the betting ring and said he was not impressed by the fashion or entertainment.

“I hate it – I’m here for the horses,” he said.

In 2003, the day recorded its highest track attendance when more than 122,000 spectators watched Makybe Diva win the first of her three cups.

But 20 years on, crowd sizes have dwindled with just 73,000 racegoers in 2022, the lowest since 1980.

Animal welfare concerns are increasingly in the spotlight, with the parallel Nup to the Cup event again taking place near the racecourse.

Three pro-Palestine protesters were hit by pepper spray and four arrested after about 100 people staged a protest outside the racecourse, Victoria Police said.

Lady Eliza (left) and Lady Amelia Spencer wear Melbourne designer Cappallezzo as they enjoy race day inside the exclusive Birdcage enclosure. Photo: AAP

Emma Freedman. Photo: AAP

Crystal Kimber. Photo: Getty

Georgina Burke. Photo: Getty

Racegoers and entertainers arrived early on Cup day. Photo: Getty

Racegoer Selina McCloskey. Photo: AAP

Racegoers appeared to go to a lot of trouble this year to stand out. Photo: Getty

Australian singer Delta Goodrem AM. Photo: AAP

Influencer Damien Broderick utilised the VRC’s new dress code. Photo: Getty

Beautiful hats, original designs. Photo: Getty

Matildas star Cortnee Vine kicked goals in the fashion stakes. Photo: Getty

Melbourne model Demi Brereton was one of many in the Birdcage who chose red. Photo: Getty

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