Tuesday, 22 December 2015 10:44

How couture came to the races

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Although many of the world's top fashion shows can provide an fascinating introduction to the next season's styles, for many who are interested to see what the latest range of cutting-edge designs look like in real life, there's no better way than by simply visiting the races.

Horse racing has enjoyed a long and close relationship with the aristocracy in many countries, and because of this many top couture houses have sought to use these spectacular occasions to unveil their latest creations.

So here's a look at how high-end fashion has managed to gain access to the racing world and provide an extra dose of entertainment alongside the betting options and of course the racing itself.

Ladies Days

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The introduction of ladies days as the pinnacle of fashion for many racing events has been greatly enjoyed by spectators, attendees and of course the press who relish the opportunity to comment upon the fashion successes and mistakes of the many celebrities who flock to the event.

Because of the huge amount of attention that many race-going celebrities attract, there's a great deal of competitiveness amongst many of the high-end designers to get such celebrities to wear their latest creations.

Although many of the prestigious events attract aristocratic celebrities such as Zara Phillips, it's invariably the fashion faux-pas of some of the more alcoholically-enhanced racegoers that attracts the greatest amount of press derision.

Style Advice

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In order to not attract the wrath of the fashion police, it's always a good idea to take a few tips from some of the top designers in the country. So we asked Denise Mahmud from the London-based brand Moixa who specialise in beautifully-crafted and trend-resistant clothing her thoughts and advice on fashion at the races.

Why do you think horse racing events have become such an important part of the fashion calendar?

Considered a formal social event, horse racing has had close ties to fashion for decades. Since the early 1900s the races have been a place to see and show off new fashion trends.

If you had to design an outfit for the races, how would you get around the restrictions over dress codes in regards to hem lengths?

I designed outfits for the races every year. I try to help my clients understand that lady-like doesn't have to mean boring. Instead of working around the restrictions, I try and make them a feature that reflects the client's personality and style.

Do you approve of the rise of fascinators?

Personally, I'm not a fan of fascinators. They're like an Alice Band gone wrong.

Dress codes

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Denise Mahmud's advice regarding dress codes is of key importance when considering fashion at the races. Many of racing's key social events such as Royal Ascot will frequently implement restrictive codes of dress for different areas of the racecourse and as such, it's always a good idea to check with the race course's website before attending.

The subject of fascinators is particularly sensitive in the world of racing, as many particularly outrageous designs have led to top racing events such as Royal Ascot banning the offensive headwear.

However, much as betting is part of the fun of Ladies Day thanks to sites like Betway who have a handy new mobile betting feature on their website, it's always important to remember to embrace the style challenges with a degree of fun and enthusiasm.

Fashion Solutions

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Whilst it can be tempting to try and adapt some of the latest designs from the couture houses into your look for the races, keeping your hemlines traditional and perhaps embracing some exciting new colours and textures could be a better way to approach this fashion dilemma.

Online boutiques such as Little Black Dress have provided a good selection of race-day dresses that capture a degree of sophistication thanks to some sharp 1960s cuts, whilst the subtle use of feminine floral imagery softens the look to make it perfect for the coming of spring.

As the many of the racing world's top events such as the Cheltenham Gold Cup tend to take place in the colder months of the year, it's always a good idea to try and layer up too. On-trend textures such as coloured suede can provide all of us with a stylish look that will keep us warm when we're out at the track all day. And if you're feeling particularly countrified, then you can always pay a fashion tribute to horse-racing's country origins by adopting a tweed look in the form of a sharply-fitting blazer.

So whether you're sipping champagne in a chic A-line dress in the executive box, or cheering on one of the favourites in the race in your warmest winter jacket, make sure that you have fun with your look and celebrate your betting at the races with the very best in British fashion.

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