As fashion-savvy women fly south for the “race that stops a nation”, Virgin Australia will have porters on standby in the lead-up to the Melbourne Cup to offer eligible passengers a personalised Hat Valet service. Pre-flight pampering options will also be offered including blow-dries, make-up kits by Model Co and a shoe-shining service.
If you’re not in Australia and wondering what all this fuss is about, the Melbourne Cup is a 3,200 metre horse race for three-year-olds and over. It’s the richest two-mile handicap in the world and is held annually on November 5, or the first Tuesday of that month. Australia almost grinds to a halt to watch, either in person or on TV. Race day parties are held nationwide, from the smallest office to the most upmarket venues. The race was first held in 1861, over a distance of over two miles (about 3,218 metres), but was shortened to 3,200 metres (2.0 miles) in 1972. In 2012 the prize money was $A6.200,000.
Fashions on the Melbourne Cup field
The Melbourne Cup is as much about fashion as it is about the horses! Hence the valet service. Thousands of women do serious shopping and vie for best-dressed accolades at Fashions on the Field. A fabulous hat is essential. Although not everyone takes it seriously and fancy dress is an integral element of race day too. Race day wear used to be stitched up, until 1965. English model Jean Shrimpton, often referred to as the Melbourne Cup Carnival’s most famous fashion spectacle, visited Flemington Racecourse for all four days of the carnival, accompanied by Hollywood actor Terence Stamp. She arrived at Derby Day wearing a one-piece shift four inches (10.16cm) above the knee, with no hat, gloves or stocking. Conservative Australian matrons were shocked out of their suspender belts. Jean instantly turned the world fashion spotlight on to Flemington. The mini skirt was born.
$A53.3m spent on frocks and over 80,000 hats
“We know how valuable racing headwear is, with racegoers investing more than $A53.3 million on fashion for the carnival last year, including more than 80,000 hats and fascinators,” says Group Executive of Corporate Communications, Danielle Keighery.
Virgin’s hat valet service will be offered in the premium kerbside entrance of Virgin Australia’s new Sydney domestic lounge to Business Class guests, Velocity Platinum, Gold, lounge members and alliance lounge eligible guests. The Hat Valet service will allow guests with carry-on baggage to check-in their hat box straight from the lounge, enabling them to skip the terminal. Porters will hand-deliver the hat boxes to the aircraft. Upon arrival into Melbourne, the hat boxes will be personally returned to the guest.