There is no escaping it.
Melbourne is thoroughly in the thrall of the thoroughbreds and all that the season brings with it – on-track and off.
With spring racing midway through its calendar, Caulfield is done, dusted and the track torn up, and punters will turn their attention to Moonee Valley and the running of the Cox Plate on Saturday.
Then it is a quick tumble through the week – cue many, many Birdcage tent previews, Fashions on the Field launches and general hysteria at the city's retailers as women and men get their last-minute looks sorted – and we arrive at the first day, Derby Day, of the week-long, feted Emirates spring racing carnival
Private Melbourne has waded among the many parties and launches held daily – and nightly – around the city for many weeks to bring you some handy race-day "hacks" – tips and snippets of the race season.
Take care of your tootsies
Stumbling barefoot down Flemington Parade after a long day at the races with a pair of stilettos flung over your shoulder is one of the more unfortunate looks of spring racing.
But a little Melbourne company may very well have the answer.
Seven years ago, Melbourne woman Anna Baird was working as a podiatrist and had become increasingly frustrated by the lack of footwear that ticked both the attractive and comfortable-and-good-for-your-feet boxes.
As she puts it bluntly: "At the time, orthotics were dead ugly and there was really no options for people who wanted to look good in their shoes."
And so, Baird started Bared (geddit?), initially launching in a small store in Toorak before moving to larger premises in Armadale before moving across the street and landing in the current digs on High Street.
Baird has recently launched her summer line, for men and women, of incredibly comfortable shoes – flats, wedges and heels, which are affordable, on trend and super stylish.
Baird is mostly on hand to assist clients in their quest for the perfect fit and to offer advice to those who have special orthopaedic needs – particularly diabetics, for whom foot care is an essential part of their regime.
She collaborates with all her shop assistants, who are all well versed in podiatry needs, on each range and plans to open a store in Sydney in 2015.
Cox Plate colours
The good folk at Moonee Valley Racing Club have recently rebranded and for those heading out to the Cox Plate and looking to coordinate their style, they have a cleverly put together colour from which to choose.
The tradition monochrome combination of black and white has been spruced up with an injection of sunflower yellow, as demonstrated on Wednesday at the Cox Plate Ladies Luncheon, held in the main committee room, which provided soaring views of the racecourse and the Melbourne skyline.
Australian Idol alumni Anthony Callea had a tough gig performing in front of 300 very loud and chatty women, but won the room over before he even took the stage, with fiance Tim Campbell – who officiated during the day – introducing the "love of his life."
Callea performed some of his greatest hits and later told Private Melbourne that he "loved the idea of getting ready and going to work together."
Campbell and Callea announced their engagement last year.
Moonee Valley will host night racing on Friday for the Manikato Stakes before rolling out the carpet, champagne and canapes for celebrities including Shane Warne, football players (of two codes) Luke Hodge, Matthew Richardson, Billy Brownless, Billy Slater and reigning Miss World Australia Courtney Thorpe.
A 30,000-strong crowd is expected at the track to watch Australia's richest weight-for-age race.
Millinery for rent
Three years ago, Uber milliner and stylist Kerrie Stanley hit on a fabulous idea when she was poking around her studio, which was overrun by hats and accessories used for photo shoots and then put away with no future use in mind.
In addition to her bespoke and ready-to-wear headwear range, Stanley decided to offer some of her most treasured pieces to the masses – for a small fee, and for the day.
And so, designerhathire.com was born.
Women (and men, if they so fancy) can reserve online a piece by Stanley at any time during the year and the hat will be shipped to any destination in Australia. But local women are in luck as the site's popularity is such that during the spring carnival, hiring is restricted to Melbourne.
Stanley, who was a guest at the ladies lunch on Wednesday, says she deliberately does not follow trends and strives to create art, as an extension of her natural "lust for life".
Stanley's venture is the only site offering millinery for hire in Australia and follows in the footsteps of international and Australian business that rent out designer dresses and bags as an affordable way for fashionistas to appear decked out in the latest luxe trends.
We like it.
Celebs for sale
If A-D grade celebrity spotting is your thing, the week-long racing carnival is the place to be, with news of "celebrity" ambassadors to hit tents in the Birdcage (with some appearance fees in the five-figure range) beginning to trickle out.
Here is what we know so far:
Lavazza – Fashion blogger and wife of Geelong Cat superstar Jimmy Bartel, the super stylish Nadia Bartel, will host in the tent for the second year in a row.
Swisse – Home-grown models Megan Gale and Ashley Hart (sister of Victoria Secret supermodel Jess Hart) will make appearances during the week. One of the bigger names to emerge has been Wolf of Wall Street actress and former Ramsay Street resident Margot Robbie who will be an official guest on Saturday, November 8 - Emirates Stakes Day.
Myer – Jennifer Hawkins will lead the fashionable pack with husband Jake Wall by her stylish side.
Emirates – Sports Illustrated model and New York it-girl Gigi Hadid was recently announced as special guest for Emirates Melbourne Cup Day. Hadid - who has a tenuous Australian connection via former boyfriend, Aussie teen pop singer Cody Simpson - recently walked the Paris runways for Jean Paul Gaultier and Karl Lagerfeld.
Like a Rolling Stone
Much excitement continues to swirl around whether ageless rockers the Rolling Stones will make an appearance trackside.
The supergroup will be in Victoria during the week for their Hanging Rock gig and word is several marquees are duking it out for the right to claim the Stones' as their own.
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