3 Designer Collabs for Flawless Trackside Style

Spring Racing millinery collaborations

Australia’s top design and millinery talent team up to create three exclusive race-day looks.

What do you get when three of Australia’s top fashion designers collaborate with three equally talented milliners? A trio of exclusive looks that make it easier than ever to find your most winning spring racing carnival style.

Just in time for the carnival, we’ve brought together By Johnny with Ford Millinery; Keepsake with Kitte; and Lover with Sylvy Earl, to create three ensembles that you won’t find anywhere else. Whether you’re short on time or you struggle to find a fascinator to match your frock, we’ve done the hard work for you this season.

“We really tried to work the brands’ aesthetics together, to complement both brands and the look and feel of their product,” explains Liz Ormando, David Jones Buyer for Handbags and Accessories, who was involved with the collaboration. “Each designer offers a unique look, and between them, they also cover the key trends of the season.”

Whether you’re short on time or you struggle to find a fascinator to match your frock, we’ve done the hard work for you this season.

Below, we speak to the designers to find out more about their collabs…

By Johnny X Ford Millinery

Johnny Schembri, director of By Johnny, and Chantelle Ford, owner and designer of Ford Millinery, are no strangers to collaboration, having working together for a number of years on racing carnivals, fashion shows and celebrity styling. “Our history proved to be a great asset, as we could hit the ground running without fear of bruising any egos!” Ford laughs.

Their striking outfit began with the dress and specifically, with its hue. “It was important that we made a statement with the colour, and the bold orange was the starting point,” explains Schembri. “The signature knot detailing on the straps adds a modern twist to a traditional silhouette.”

“Once we settled on the gorgeous dress, we discussed a direction for the headpiece together – sleek, structured, feminine and the possible use of a bow style,” says Ford. “I’ve had a fascination with the use of lines, parchment scrolls and ribbons. These ribbons appear to have movement and energy, yet they’re inanimate. I wanted to recreate this ‘frozen ribbon’ look, and it seemed to be the perfect answer to the strong and structured bow we were searching for.”


Wear it to: the Melbourne Cup – this is the ultimate party dress!
Wear it if: you want all eyes to be on you.
Wear it again: this dress makes a perfect cocktail number after the racing carnival is over. “Clash it back with metallic shoes and accessories or bold black pieces,” suggests Schembri.

Spring Racing millinery collaborations

By Johnny dress and Ford Millinery headpiece.

Keepsake X Kitte

The brief for this particular collaboration was “fun, feminine and flirty,” says Kit Cockerell, creative director at Kitte. When creating her metallic floral headbands studded with delicate pearls, Cockerall took her inspiration from “spring gardens and the stunning flowers that we associate with the racing season. Pearls are a major trend this season, and are a component that I love to work with, so I made a point of making them a strong feature in each design.”

For their part, the design team at Keepsake stuck to their signature “trend-led aesthetic influenced by couture, with quality fabrications, beautiful prints and unique shapes”. Their flirty floral lace frock was designed with Derby Day in mind, and includes “an elegant high neck, short sleeves and a fluted skirt to fit within the racing guidelines”.


Wear it to: Derby Day, of course – it’s literally made for it!
Wear it if: you’re feeling playful.
Wear it again: with a colourful twist. “Add some colour through accessories and lipstick,” advise the Keepsake team. “A black and white dress will never date!”

Spring Racing millinery collaborations

Keepsake dress and Kitte headband.

Lover X Sylvy Earl

A shared sense of romance made the collaboration between Lover and milliner Sylvy Earl a perfect fit. “It was a privilege to collaborate with Lover, a brand I love and have admired for a long time,” says Earl. “The aim was to create a piece that is sophisticated, feminine, and understated – a look that represents both our aesthetics.”

Her Twist Boater in natural straw “was drawn from my love of understated styles and beautiful detail”. Making it even more special: “each boater was shaped and finished by hand and trimmed with an ivory grosgrain twist for a touch of softness”.

The lemon floral dress created by Lover is also enhanced by special details, from the neckline to the expertly draped skirt. “We really wanted the Dahlia dress to have movement,” explains Lover creative director Susien Chong. “The sunray pleating in the skirt swirls around the body and the vertical flounces cascade beautifully when walking.”

Chong is equally pleased with the head-to-toe look, noting that, “Sylvy’s quality and workmanship are outstanding and we’re really excited by the outcome of the collaboration.”


Wear it to: Oaks Day, where it’s right in tune with the ladylike dress code.
Wear it if: you like a romantic, feminine style.
Wear it again: by styling it a different way. “It could be a guest dress at a gala or wedding styled with stilettos, or worn for casual Sunday afternoon drinks when styled with white trainers,” says Chong.

Spring Racing millinery collaborations

Lover dress and Sylvy Earl boater.

Discover more exclusive designer race-day fashion