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Matt Preston Explained The Splendid Evolution Of ‘MasterChef’ Fashion

‘MasterChef’ is the only cooking show on television where the clothing is as eye-catching as the cuisine.

Alongside dazzling desserts and showstopping seafood dishes, we're treated to a smorgasbord of colourful cravats, bold blazers and talkative trousers -- thanks to judge Matt Preston's dedication to storytelling through style. 

"The outfits, the whole fashion journey of 'MasterChef' has been an 11-year project and people think it's just, ‘Oh yeah we’ll put that on’ but no, there’s a whole subtext going on there with fashion," Preston told 10 daily. 

The crown prince of cravats explained that when the show first started back in 2009, he and fellow judges Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris wore their own clothes on set.

“We looked like badly-dressed, low-rent Sydney mobsters. The sort of guys who try and gain protection money from rather bad takeaway coffee joints," said Preston. "Terrible!"

Your friendly neighbourhood Sydney mobsters. (Network 10).

But as the show has evolved over the last decade, so too has the wardrobe,  thanks to years of experimentation and risk-taking with texture and colour.

Preston excitedly draws inspiration from Australian bushrangers to the Fat Controller from 'Thomas The Tank Engine' and has hunted down fabrics from across the globe -- from Liberty of London to Scottish kilt suppliers to golfing stores and the bargain bin at Spotlight.

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This season, his wardrobe choices have reached stratospheric new levels of style -- so we decided to ask the sartorially splendid judge for a peek at his 2019 mood board.

A Cravatalicious Homage To The Kelly Gang
Preston names Kelly Gang associate Aaron Sherritt as a style icon. Photo: Network 10/State Library Victoria.

The Kelly Gang doesn't get nearly enough credit for their pioneering uses of the cravat, but Preston told 10 daily that the gunslinger style of the 1880s is a rich source of inspiration for his 'MasterChef' wardrobe.

"Back in those days, those young tearaways had this thing called flash dressing, they’d wear white shirts with polka dots on it, they’d wear boots with undercut Cuban or Spanish heels, they’d ALL wear a cravat," he said. 

Teddy Boy Fashion
Pioneering the 2019 Teddy Boy look. Photos: Network 10/Getty Images.

Season 11 has seen Preston rock a bounty of frock coats, often with a luscious velvet lapel -- outfits that are inspired from a collection of very important cultural icons.

"Now the interesting thing about the frock coat is that I like it because it has elements of gunslinger and elements of the Fat Controller from 'Thomas the Tank Engine'," said Preston, adding that there's also a "pompous, aristocratic" vibe going on as well. 

"You’ll note that, increasingly, those frock coats have suddenly started to grow velvet on them because that’s a reference to 1950s Teddy Boy fashion that was worn by the likes of Showaddywaddy and Mudd," he said of the cult British bands. 

READ MORE: MasterChef: The Secret To Making The Perfect Dumplings

Marvellous Melbourne
Photo: Network 10.

It's been the most opulent episode of Season 11 so far -- a challenge set in the historic Victorian State Library with Nigella Lawson officiating as guest judge. Preston's inspiration for this sharp look?

"Trying to outdress Nigella and failing dismally," he exclaimed. 

"That’s marvellous Melbourne, 1880, inspired by the surroundings and trying to look more flamboyant.

"On the bottom, black and white checked pants but Nigella wore batwing sleeves that were all fringed and just looked unbelievable," Preston sighed. 

READ MORE: MasterChef: Do You Know Your Pancetta From Your Prosciutto?

The 'MasterChef' legacy
Photo: Network 10.

It's fair to say that, before 2009, the word 'cravat' wasn't part of the modern Australian lexicon -- and now, it's pretty much synonymous with Preston and  'MasterChef'.

While it's not uncommon these days to see TV hosts donning a lime green or bright pink suit -- it's partly thanks to Preston's trailblazing haute couture.

"We all take great pride in the fact that this election, Alan Jones was wearing the pastel jackets that I’ve been wearing for the last four seasons," said Preston. 

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"I love the fact that I look at Osher Gunsberg and Grant Denyer with their pink jackets and I go, ‘That’s beautiful’."

Preston mused that breaking with stale convention often takes "an idiot" who isn't afraid to take a few fashion risks.

"...A kind of a fool, a clown who goes first and says, 'This is kind of okay, we can accept this, we can do this, we’re allowed to do this we don’t have to dress this way.'"

MasterChef Australia airs Sunday to Thursday nights at 7.30pm. Only On 10 And WIN Network. Missed an episode? Catch up on 10 Play or 10 All Access!