Celebrating the Melbourne Cup | Hannah Marinkovich on fashions in the field, Aussie style

Every time she sets foot on the racecourse, all eyes are drawn to Hannah Marinkovich and her impeccable style.

Each raceday she arrives in some effortlessly stylish outfit and so it's no surprise that in only her second fashions in the field start, she took out the national final - winning 2017's edition of Prix de Fashion.

There's something about Hannah - she makes racewear look so easy | Photo copyright ATR

From there, Hannah went on to compete in Melbourne as part of Victoria Racing Club's prize in our competition and returned again the following the year as a spectator as part of a sponsored trip. It was later announced that she would be joining Carena West as one of our style ambassadors.

Hannah was going to be joining us here at Ellerslie on Tuesday but instead, like the rest of us Kiwis, will be enjoying the thrills of Flemington at home - either via social media or VRC's new & free platform, Immersive.

We had a chat to one of our favourite people about her experiences, tips and more ahead of the fashion and colour of the 2021 Melbourne Cup Carnival.


Tell us about your experience competing in Melbourne?

I competed in Melbourne in 2017 and had the best time! I didn’t place but if I went back (which I am planning on doing when we can), I would have a completely different approach.

Each contestant is viewed for only a couple of seconds so you need a unique outfit that really makes an impact.

I was also still very fresh at racing fashion back then as it was only the third competition I entered and since then I feel that I have learned so much so I would love to give it another go.

What did you wear?

I wore a lemon yellow dress with statement sleeves that I customised, and I worked with a Melbourne milliner to create a leather percher.

Hannah enjoying a moment with fellow Kiwi, Olivia Moor, in 2017 at Flemington | Photo c/- Hannah Marinkovich

Were you going to head over to Melbourne this year, travel permitting and if so, in a competitor or spectator capacity?

I was going to celebrate at Ellerslie this year but I would love to start planning for 2022!

Did you notice many differences between the Australian racewear competition process and New Zealand's?

It is completely different, and here in New Zealand we really are lucky that the judges have time to get a good look at our outfits.

Hannah taking time to check out the detail on the Fashions in the Field runway at the SkyCity Boxing Day Races 2020 here at Ellerslie | Photo copyright ATR

It is mainly different on the scale side of things and it happens much faster because there are so many entrants.

I remember I got to skip the heats (from qualifying via my Prix de Fashion win at Ellerslie) and I was popped on the end of the semi-finals in place 67 or 68. You walk out and are viewed for a couple of seconds and it’s all over!

Backstage is such a fun environment - all the entrants are so lovely and supportive of one another and it’s a treat to get to see all the outfits up close and in detail.

There are so many talented contestants that hand make so many different aspects of their outfits.

Is there anything you felt you needed to do differently while in Melbourne in order to catch the judges' eyes?

Whilst I think the actual judging may be similar in Melbourne and New Zealand, you do have to make that extra effort in Melbourne to stand out amongst the number of contestants - so you need something very different.

The one other thing in Melbourne is you really need to focus on your stage presence and bringing the confidence to up your energy on stage - as every second out there (all two!) counts.

Have you got any Australian racewear style crushes?

I’ve always been a fan of Crystal Kimber’s style, it was such a pleasure to meet her in Melbourne and since then judge alongside her here for The Ned Prix de Fashion in 2020.

Crystal Kimber Hannah Marinkovich
Crystal and Hannah pictured together here at Ellerslie on Vodafone Derby Day 2020 where they both sat on the judging panel of The Ned Prix de Fashion | Photo via Crystal's Instagram

Crystal works with her lovely mum to make a lot of her outfits, so they’re really unique and full of beautiful detail.

I think her style is very feminine and I love it.

Did you manage to watch the Melbourne Cup while you were there?

No to be completely honest - I missed most of the racing as the fashion was so much fun to watch. I went over the following year with Visit Victoria just to be a spectator and it was amazing, the energy and environment was something else!

The state finals are all underway now – what trends are you seeing emerging?

I’ve seen a big use of colourful prints emerge which is really fun to work with in an outfit [see below for some images of this year's entrants], and a lot of front-facing millinery.

To me, Melbourne Cup fashion is always colourful but I think it’s looking even brighter this year which I love.

Below: Some of this year's top entries in the MYER Fashions On Your Front Lawn state competitions.

Often they say a winning look can come down to stage presence and catching the judges' eyes – do you think photo-based competitions make it easier or harder to catch the judges' eyes?

I do agree that stage presence is important but there are definitely benefits of entering a photo-based competition too.

Having judged both, I would recommend capturing all the up-close details of your outfits in photos that can often be missed on stage.

Examples of close-up shots submitted by some of 2021's regional finalists of The Ned Prix de Fashion

If you have the option to also include a video, definitely do that too so you can showcase how your outfit moves.

If you can’t include a video make sure to do some ‘movement’ shots that can show anything like this off!

Another benefit of photo-based competitions is often the judges won’t be under so much time pressure to judge.

Below: The Ned Prix de Fashion 2021 regional finalist, Sara Allpress, showed how her outfit moved in this great competition submission video.

Have you got any tips for anyone thinking about (travel bubbles & crowd capacities permitting) entering a racewear competition in Australia?

Allowing yourself adequate time to plan is key, so you can carefully consider each different aspect of your outfit.

Speaking from experience - I only allowed myself a month to pull my (Melbourne Cup) outfit together as I got married five weeks beforehand and it was definitely not enough time to make any tweaks and to really get it looking how I wanted.

Have a look at what is trending in racewear to get some inspiration, but I always say my biggest piece of advice is to stay authentic to yourself and your own style. Wear something that you feel really good in that brings out your personality and own it.

Do you think we'll start to see a lot of what our Australian counterparts are wearing (in the state competitions) start to translate into kiwi racewear trends this summer, or do you see our own 'style 'emerging?

I feel like we have our own kiwi style.

Kirsten Morland, Hawkes Bay Racing's regional representative for The Ned Prix de Fashion 2022, pictured here in a hat designed by Kiwi milliner, Monika Neuhauser

Over the past few years we’ve seen the boundaries pushed a lot more and I’m here for it.

We have such talented milliners here on our shores too which has helped in seeing our own style emerge.

Any styles you think are now 'done'? Any styles you'd like to see emerge?

I’ll never say something is completely ‘done’ as it does depend on the outfit as a whole.

However, I do think we are moving slightly away from larger prints to more intricate smaller prints, and I really want to see a change in silhouettes.

Hannah's still got a thing for extra-long hemlines as seen here on Carle Rutledge, wearing one of her entries for this year's MYER Fashions On Your Front Lawn competition. Carle - who has previously won MYER Fashions On The Field at Flemington - has also been to Ellerslie to sit on The Ned Prix de Fashion judging panel as VRC's competition representative.

We have seen a lot of mid to long length pencil dresses with big sleeves and I think it’s about time it’s mixed up a bit.

I’m still loving extra-long hemlines but I also am loving shorter hemlines which will be fun to play with this season.

Where do you look to get ideas for your own raceday outfits from?

International catwalks are always a place where I get inspiration from, as the costume-like element of some of them can translate really well into racewear.

I’ve loved watching Paris and Milan Fashion Week this year and colour is here in a massive way so I’m looking forward to seeing how that will translate this racing season.

Below: Some of the colour of the runways at this year's Milon & Paris fashion weeks | Click the arrows to scoll through | images via Marie Claire

Have you got any tips for the racewear crew to be aware of if they're one day planning a trip to Melbourne?

The whole experience of being at Flemington is one that is so worth the trip for. Definitely make sure to explore different parts of the racecourse when you’re there.

Melbourne is also one of my favourite cities so it’s always a treat to go back.

Make plenty of dinner bookings for throughout your stay as it has such a good food scene and make time for some shopping!

One that the fashion community may appreciate - the fabric stores are incredible and worth making time for.

Above: Some highlights from Hannah's time in Melbourne in 2018.


While we're no longer racing here at Ellerslie on 2 November, we've still got a lot of great Melbourne Cup content to come as Australasia leads up to the "great race".