I’m incredibly lax in writing this, as this event was held in September so I’m about 5 or 6 weeks late, but nonetheless, here goes.
This year I was privileged to receive an invitation to the Myer Spring Fashion Lunch, held at Flemington Racecourse. This is one of the major events that launches the fashion season each year. I’ve never been much of a race-goer, so it’s not a circle I really mingle in, but I still found it pretty fascinating. It was a large event, about 600 people, and catered by Peter Rowland in one of the large halls within the main grandstand at Flemington.
For those of you not in Melbourne or Australia, Peter Rowland is pretty well regarded as one of the most high-profile catering and events companies around, and as well as catering for major events such as this, has an impressive portfolio of exclusive-catered venues that includes The National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Museum, The Royal Botanic Gardens, and The Royal Exhibition Building (this is the beautiful old building in Carlton, NOT to be confused with the Exhibition Centre (MCEC) which has it’s own in house catering service).
So I guess you could say that I had moderately high expectations? The wow factor, on arrival, was definitely there. The room was massive, tables laid out in intimidating rows, and beautiful decorations – of particular note were these (plastic I believe) flowers frozen in huge blocks of ice that served as centrepieces. It wasn’t very well thought out, though, as it was quite a long event and the tray it sat on was insufficient to catch the overflow. By the end of the lunch, most tables had a wet patch in the centre, although some guests had attempted to prop up wine glasses and the like to catch the dripping water (with minimal success).
As I said I’m not really a race-goer or into fashion that much so I was pretty excited seeing all the different hats that the ladies were wearing… but when it came to the official show (plus the fashion stands set up at the back of the room) I’m sad to say I was pretty underwhelmed. Probably the stand out of the cat walk was the collection below, though now being so many weeks later I can’t remember the designer, but overall it was… bland. I think the theme for this year was meant to be a sort of breezy feel, lots of white and pastels, it reminded me of an attempt at resort wear meets high fashion and it just didn’t really work (in my humble, un-fashion-educated opinion). There were a couple of more structured pieces with black and colours thrown in there but nothing breathtaking. The opinions of my table seemed to echo my thoughts, however, most of the ladies (it is after all primarily a ladies event) were distracted from their boredom at the catwalk by the male models who came out every second run.
As clearly fashion is not my forte, I guess I should return to the food and drink… I can only say this was a tremendous let down and I expected more from both Peter Rowland and Flemington Racecourse! On arrival, despite being literally 3 metres from a wait station (around which at least half a dozen waiters were crowded at any one time, all seemingly avoiding eye contact) it took about 45 minutes before I got a drink. The food, when it arrived, wasn’t terrible, but the portions were so small that everyone was left hungry (my lunch ‘main’ was a small pile of puree’d vegetables with a couple of side bits and a single smallish lamb cutlet) and although I had to go back to work and didn’t join them, the other ladies on my table all left the event to immediately go find more food. You shouldn’t expect that from a 3 course meal, particularly when the ticket price is something close to $200 from memory (I didn’t pay for my seat, but did see this in passing somewhere).
Speculation was rife that the event budget had been used up on decorations so there was nothing left for food. They also seem to have a ‘one size fits all’ approach towards allergies – one of my companions on the day, who requested a dairy free meal and could have had any of the regular meals minus the sauces, received a kind of sad-looking portion of salad that was also devoid of gluten, sugars, and any form of protein. Needless to say she left hungriest of all.
The save (if you could call it that, since it didn’t really appease the hungry lunch-ers!) of the meal was the dessert, which despite also being quite small was nonetheless beautiful. A sort of edible terrarium of mousse, apple jelly, meringues and biscuit crumb with micro herbs. I almost didn’t want to eat it because it was so beautiful but, being unable to put it in my pocket and take it with me, eat it I did. I’m sad to say that this was also a little disappointing with the mousse-ish substance being quite dry and the other elements less flavourful than they could have been, but at least it looked fantastic!
As a small gift to each attendee they also included this custom set of nail polishes (which I don’t need) that are obviously designed to match the outfits they hoped you’d buy from the stalls at the back of the room. The race-themed names for each colour are cute, though.