As the Ladies’ Day racing season sets off at a gallop in Yorkshire, Stephanie Smith previews tomorrow’s fashion fix at Wetherby.
Women travel from all over the county – indeed, from all over the country – to throw their hat into the ring (not literally) for the title of the Go Racing Best Dressed Lady Race-goer in Yorkshire.
The honour was won last year by Deborah Grogan, who represented Catterick racecourse in the Doncaster final. “Any lady likes to dress up and look her best and a trip to the races is one of the few chances we get to really push the boat out,” she says.
First off this season is Wetherby, which is most definitely pushing the boat out with its Yorkshire Post Ladies’ Evening tomorrow night, when there will be fashion shows in the Life & Style Marquee, featuring couture designers and some of the county’s top milliners.
Leeds-based James Steward, past winner of Designer of the Year awards and Yorkshire Brides Couture Designer of the Year, has dressed celebrities for the red carpet (Katherine Kelly is a fan). He says: “I have picked out ten pieces, which have proven to be the most popular styles. Pencil dresses are fitted and sculpted and maxi dresses are floaty and feminine.
“As always, they are timeless pieces focusing on the cut and detail, rather than being associated to a particular season or trend, which makes them adaptable to any occasion.”
Jenny Roberts has a Stray-side studio in Harrogate, where she creates her stunning contemporary hats and headgear, which have featured in Vogue.
Justine Bradley-Hill is another British milliner, based near Ilkley, and she specialises in creating stylish yet wearable silhouettes. She trained at Leeds College of Art and has shown at London and Paris Fashion Weeks.
Claire Spooner launched her millinery label, Quaintrelle, in 2010 and runs a bespoke service from her studio in Pateley Bridge. Last year, she showed at the Great Yorkshire Show and at the Clothes Show Live.
Beth Hirst shares her Leeds studio with James Steward and has been a milliner for five years, sending headpieces to Royal Ascot, the Melbourne Cup and the Kentucky Derby.
Last but not least, Leeds- based milliner Rhian Kempadoo Millar graduated in 2010 from Leeds College of Art, after a 15-year career in carnival costume design. Much of her work focuses on sustainable and ethical practice and she has founded the British Flat Cap Company in her quest to make all-Yorkshire designed and manufactured hats. She will launch Le Tweed collection to celebrate the Tour de France’s Grand Départ in Yorkshire.
James Brindley is sponsoring the Best Dressed Lady Competition, which takes place after the fourth race at Wetherby tomorrow. Gates open at 3.30pm, with fashion shows starting from 4.30pm. Details on www.wetherbyracing.co.uk.
Justine Bradley-Hill is on www.justinebradley-hill.co.uk
Quaintrelle is on www.quaintrelle.co.uk
Kempadoo Millar is on www.kempadoo.com
Jenny Roberts is on www.jrmillinery.co.uk
Brth Hirst is on www.couturehats.co.uk
James Steward is on www.jamessteward.co.uk