It wasn't just the golden goblets that glittered as celebrities gathered at Melbourne's Crown Towers for the Moët & Chandon Derby Eve party to herald spring racing week.
If the Melbourne Cup Carnival is the biggest party of the year, what do you do to kick it all off? Throw another party, of course. Since its inception, the Moët & Chandon Derby Eve party has become the unofficial launch of Melbourne's week-long spring racing festivities.
Attendees this year at Crown Towers' sparkling lobby bar, The Waiting Room, included television journalist Karl Stefanovic, who was buddying up to the Australian Financial Review's Rear Window columnist Joe Aston, former Miss Universe Australia Jesinta Campbell, seen chatting with Crown PR maven Ann Peacock, and songstress Danielle Spencer. Various horseracing identities, including members of the Waterhouse and Ingham clans, meanwhile, jockeyed to swap Birdcage invitations, titbits and racing tips.
Moët Hennessy Australia marketing and business development director Jonathan Coles said the Derby Eve party had become a mainstay on the brand's entertaining calendar. "It's always fun because, everyone's just arriving for the carnival and getting excited. There's so much anticipation about the week, it's just great to be the ones to get the party started."
Limited-edition gold magnums of Moët & Chandon Impérial were on pour, ramping up the glamour on the evening, and served alongside it were Champagne-friendly canapés, including mushroom gougères, lobster with basil and avocado, and white chocolate truffles with raspberry and gold leaf. Chef John Lawson, of Crown's No 8 restaurant, said the white chocolate dessert canapé and the jicama ravioli were his two favourites of the night.
"The ravioli, which we did with avocado and lime, really worked with the fresh crispness of the wine," said Lawson. "There's such a buzz down here. It's the busiest week of the year for us." And his punting strategy? "I'll be with some of our suppliers. We'll pull out silly names and go for it."