With mask-to-match: racing businesses try to stay on-track as fans away from it

Dress, hat, shoes, bag and, this year, a face mask to match. Welcome to the coronavirus spring racing carnival.

This is normally a busy time of the year for fashion designers but, like so many other industries, social restrictions have had a crippling effect. In a normal year two million people would attend the track over the spring carnival, this year the industry is expecting, at best, a smattering of industry insiders and course members.

Designer Julia Torrance Hemingway (right) hopes this year’s racing carnival will still see people dressing up including in matching masks.Credit:Justin McManus

But there is room for innovation and a little hope too that some racing enthusiasts will still want to celebrate the season when the carnival gets going in earnest at Saturday's Caulfield Cup.

"People are desperate to get dressed up and socialise again, after six months of living in activewear, we're hoping people celebrate spring racing at home or in a park, now that we can have a small gathering," says designer Julia Torrance Hemingway, who added that this year's collection comes with a twist on the lockdown look.

"We have incorporated in our entire new collection matching face masks in all the different prints.

"You don't need to tie the mask back to the dress but now as we have to wear masks in a workplace, mask inside and basically everywhere, people will want a sort of nicer mask or slightly more elevated, we are also doing a lot more sustainable masks and focusing on comfort," she said.

The Victoria Racing Club and sponsor Myer has replaced Fashions on the Field with Fashions on your Front Lawn. Melbourne Racing Club is running a virtual Social Style Stakes.

If fans are all dressed up, caterers hope they will also still be looking to celebrate in small groups with good food and something to wash it down.

Ben Avramides, co owner of Tommy Collins which is offering “interactive” hampers for at-home Caulfield Cup celebrations.Credit:Simon Schluter

Tommy Collins catering has been a part of Caulfield Cup on-track hospitality at marquees for the past six years and has adapted its product to offer "interactive" hamper packages for those celebrating at home. Packages include a song playlist, videos on how to handle the food and activities for the kids.

The company's $99 hampers (with the capacity to add more) add the festive sense of eating, drinking and being social, co-owner Ben Avramides says.

"Obviously everyone is stuck at home, a bit bored. Our packages are about meal times being fun, interactive, boozy, we build a playlist for every cuisine, Tommy does some videos on how to present and cook the food," he says.

"I’m hoping everyone will still get dressed up, that they are still going to have a day of indulgence, end the day on a high with some bubbles, but all of it will be done from home," he says.

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