Throughout the 1960s, the competition evolved – new sections were added, celebrity judges provided additional glamour and prestige, and thanks to the generosity of sponsors, a very rich prize pool was on offer.
Sir Rupert Steele, Chairman of the Competition Committee and VRC Committeeman at the time, described the contest as ‘a very successful promotion both for racing and for fashion’. His views were echoed by Mr Alan Forbes, Chairman of the fashion subcommittee of the Retail Traders’ Association, who said ‘Fashions on the Field is only in its infancy – it is hoped that the fashion spectacle will be as important as the racing’.
At the same time, this growing emphasis on the social aspects of the Carnival and the increasingly high profile that fashion was assuming was not however, warmly embraced by all members of the racing fraternity. The Herald’s Chief Racing writer Jack Elliott soundly criticised the VRC in 1965 for the fact that there was ‘too much nonsense at the Melbourne Cup Carnival this year’ and called for the Club to give ‘more thought to promoting the HORSE.’
In 1965, a new form of controversy came in the form of English model Jean Shrimpton. Often referred to as the Melbourne Cup Carnival's most famous fashion spectacle, Shrimpton visited Flemington for all four days of the Carnival, accompanied by Hollywood actor Terence Stamp. Attending Derby Day wearing a one-piece shift four inches above the knee, with no hat, gloves or stockings, she not only caused outrage among fashion traditionalists, but instantly turned the world fashion spotlight on to Flemington. And, when it comes to spring racing, it has remained there ever since!
Controversies aside, the 60s also saw the introduction of Fashions on the Field (FOTF) – an event that would undergo many changes during its history, yet ultimately would be embraced as the phenomena it was from the outset.
French model Christine Borge and Madame Claude-Helene Neff, Director of the fashion office of the International Wool Secretariat in Paris judge FOTF, alongside Jean Shrimpton, during the carnival.
Mrs Peter Young (former Miss Australia, Tania Verstak) and European socialite and acclaimed fashion model Baroness Fiona von Thyssen judge the competition. The Baroness is applauded for her elegance, wearing European designer outfits to all four days of the Carnival – Courreges, Givenchy and Balenciaga to name a few.
The Channel 9 network promises 'Fashion '66, Melbourne Cup international collection' to be one of the most glamorous hours ever screened on TV. Televised on TCN9 Sydney via the coaxial cable from GTV9 Melbourne on Saturday 6 November at 9.30pm, the station turned one of its studios into a banquet hall for the occasion and served drinks in its foyer to 200 VIP guests, GTV9 personalities and models.
Viewers saw the FOTF awards presented, as well as a live international fashion parade.
The Australian Women’s Weekly, Du pont International and Qantas sponsor the appearance of seven swinging top UK models at the Melbourne Cup. Three of them feature on the cover of the Women’s Weekly that year with the slogan, ‘At the Cup the London Look’ (22 November 1967). Models are Joanna Ford, Bulla Coleman, Samantha Juste, Dian Poore, Rowena Ward, Jan de Souza and Penny Yates.
British model Maudie James joins the FOTF judging panel. Noted French fashion designer and owner of an award-winning Champs-Elysees boutique Serge Casal is a guest judge.
US Fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert judges FOTF. Ms Lambert was founder of the International Best Dressed List and New York Fashion Week. Lambert went on to initiate the popular Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala.