Every year, at the Australian Grand Prix, in Albert Park, Melbourne, Mercedes-Benz kicks off the trackside events with one of the most stylish events in the sporting calendar: the Mercedes-Benz Ladies Day. So much so, that for the women of Melbourne (and those who have flown in for the festivities), it’s easy to wonder whether this lunch is starting to rival the biggest parties of Spring and Autumn racing carnivals (and it’s getting close).
Held in the Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge, situated at the F1 track’s fastest chicane at turn 12, this year saw the lounge transformed into a lush, oasis – styled like an exotic greenhouse with tropical plants, mid-century modernist styling and plenty of Petrona green touches. Over the course of the weekend, the Star Lounge held discussions, performances, interviews and acted as a sumptuous escape from the dust, sunshine, rain and loud, sonic cracks of the engines burning around the track.
Of course, being the first day of the four-day race event, the Mercedes-Benz Ladies Day set the tone for what was to be a stylish weekend inside the star lounge, hosting female celebrities, fashion trailblazers, media and women in business and motoring. Antonia Kidman moderated a discussion between Mercedes-Benz Ambassadors P.E Nation’s Pip Edwards and Claire Tregoning and Camilla & Marc’s Camilla Freeman-Topper, talking about their success in business and love of design and a performance by the beautiful Vera Blue set the tone for a relaxing and sophisticated afternoon. But this was not before the women of P.E Nation revealed a surprise they’d had up their sleeve: a hip-hop dance performance showcasing their latest, race-inspired collection.
Designed by Melbourne chef Shane Delia of Maha and Biggie Smalls, the menu boasted what Delia referred to as an “unrestricted Middle Eastern’”flair, canapés of a different breed that the chef said creatively echoed the breaking down of barriers to what is traditionally considered a male-dominated event.
Over the past decade, this event, along with many others like VAMFF, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia and the sponsorship of major exhibitions at the National Gallery of Victoria, cements the German automotive brand as a forward-thinker and level player when it comes to celebrating women in motoring, business, fashion and creative industries. As Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific CEO and Managing Director Horst von Sanden notes, the brand speaks directly to women about empowerment and will continue to do so. “Empowered women are intellectual, progressive and rational, ” he said. “We will continue offering a large variety of brand experience events for women,” he says. “Such as Ladies Day at Albert Park this week and at the National Gallery of Victoria as part of our approach.”
As one of the most prestigious events to be hosted at the Grand Prix, the question remains: will the Mercedes-Benz Ladies Day overtake the Spring Racing Carnival as the most stylish sporting event to be seen? If the 2018 event was anything to go by, Flemington might need to watch its tail.
Originally published by Vogue on 3 April 2018. Written by Noelle Faulkner.