Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Cheltenham fashion fillies have many hurdles to cross before they get it all right

Ladies Day at Cheltenham
Ladies Day at Cheltenham

The well-bred fillies were out in force yesterday at day two of Cheltenham Races.

In what has become one of the most illustrious days in the fashion stakes – second only to Royal Ascot – Cheltenham Ladies Day always attracts the upper echelons of society.

There was just one slight problem, though; the unseasonably sub-zero weather and freezing bitter wind, which played havoc with so many outfits and resulted in a lot of very confused and confusing looks.

Keen horsewoman Princess Anne was there, of course, with her equestrienne daughter Zara Tindall. Both were wrapped up warmly in woollen military-style coats with appropriately sturdy boots. While the Princess Royal looked her usual sombre self in chocolate brown, Zara was zingy in a brilliant red Russian-inspired design by the Irish designer Paul Costelloe. The only problem was the hat: a miniature pillbox with a wilted peacock feather swirled around it and worn at a jaunty angle. If only she had worn her mum's Cossack hat it would have been the perfect combination.

Earlier in the week, Zara had accompanied her 'bestie', Chanelle McCoy, to the races. Chanelle, wife of the Northern Irish Champion Jockey Tony, often appears alongside her Royal Highness as their husbands are best mates. Once again, both wore fabulous coats but missed the mark with mis-matching millinery, choosing flimsy fascinators to complete their look.

When will they ever learn that plonking a dainty flower arrangement on your head is just wrong and daft in wintry weather? Elsewhere, another trend was re-emerging as a result of the arctic conditions. After decades of being non-PC and utterly unacceptable, real fur made an ominous comeback amongst these ladies of a certain class and status.

Indeed, it was no coincidence that so many were pictured in animal pelts, as organisers of the event had actually invited fur retailers to set up stalls selling beaver hats, and mink coats.

As an animal lover, I was appalled at this backwards step. With so many fabulous fakes readily available, there really is no need to wear the real thing, no matter how cold it might be.

But then, horse racing is arguably a horribly cruel sport, so I suppose it just goes with the territory. As Belfast Fashionweek approaches, that is certainly one trend I won't be following, thank you very much.