In the 21st century the fashion stakes at Melbourne Cup are high. Images of dresses, hats and stars are quickly spread across the globe via all available media platforms. We recognise the faces and places and can contextualise them within our world. Images from Cup day have been around since the 1800s when sketches and engravings were published in the press, the result of artists’ impressions as they roamed Flemington.
As technology advanced the photographic image replaced the sketch but it was the moving image that truly captivated audiences. The rich, the powerful, the famous and the important could now be presented to the world more faithfully identified than in print; their face, their haute couture, their social standing now a matter of public record, their celebrity confirmed for posterity. Nearly 120 years later we can still read their names and see their gowns and understand who they are and where they stood in the social hierarchy by analysing one of Australia’s oldest surviving films, 1896 Melbourne Cup (1896) NFSA title:6071.