Men’s Style speaks with Dom Bagnato, the Australian designer who has judged Myer Fashions On The Field during the Melbourne Cup Carnival for nearly 20 years, about what he looks for in entrants and the new location for this year’s event.
This year’s Myer Fashions On The Field (FOTF) competition as part of the Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington will have a new home in a precinct on the hill behind the main Flemington Stand. Known as “The Park”, the new fashion and entertainment precinct is expected to host one of the biggest ever turn-outs for the famous competition.
With registrations for this year’s FOTF closing on October 26, we spoke with long-standing judge of the menswear competition, Australian designer Dom Bagnato, about his long history with the event and what he looks for in contestants.
How many years have you been judging Myer FOTF during the Melbourne Cup Carnival?
This year marks my 19th year and feels like last year was my first! I have enjoyed every minute of it.
Have you done all the days or do you have a preference? Derby Day? Melbourne Cup Day?
I love the whole week of Cup Carnival. In fact since 2007 I’ve taken most of that week off. Between attending the actual race days there is also recovery time you need to allow for. As far as favourite days, I love them all as they all have their own unique vibe. Derby Day is about elegance and sophistication, Melbourne Cup is about colour and excitement, Oaks is all about the Ladies and Stakes Day has a lovely family day vibe, watching our future Cup Carnival racegoers enjoying themselves.
In terms of menswear, how have you seen the competition evolve over the years?
The competition has evolved dramatically as its gone from “something to do” on the day to a full, concentrated effort, with the focus on the peacock! It’s fabulous to see how guys now shop for this event after they register beforehand, and seeing how they pay so much attention to detail with the objective of standing out on the day. Last year 80 per cent of the finalists were wearing hats… it’s the most beautiful vision to be a part of to see this focus on looking your best. It’s also exciting to see how savvy the boys are and aware of the latest colour, fabric and style trends.
What kind of criteria do you use to separate the contestants given menswear is more limited than women’s?
Yes, there are limitations in comparison to the women’s event, however the boys can add that powerful swagger! Also, because they are taking it seriously we are seeing amazing personal style touches that separate them from the field, so the main criteria is individuality.
How important is observing the dress etiquette of the day?
It’s always important and whilst the main competition is on Derby Day, having a winning Melbourne Cup Day look is also the ticket.
Are you excited about the developments of the concept this year, with a new dedicated venue for Myer FOTF?
I’m super excited with the new venue as it cements how important this is to us and how much the race-going public and entrants are valued. It takes team work and happy participants to deliver this globally unique event.
If you had to offer a couple of key pieces of advice to a would-be male entrant in this year’s FOTF, what would it be?
Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! Plus, ensure you select an outfit or look that best demonstrates your personality while at the same time adhering to the Cup Carnival criteria, and don’t forget the details, e.g. great shoes! Preferably DOM BAGNATO shoes at Myer. Just kidding!
Shop Dom Bagnato and other Melbourne Cup Carnival looks at myer.com.au