Designer Philip Treacy caps off a 'record' Ladies Day
HORSES? You must be joking. Who had time for those when the frenzy of a record-breaking Ladies Day happened to collide with what was quite literally a Mad Hatter's Tea party, presided over by the Prince of Hats, Philip Treacy? Though of course, again, nobody could spare the time for tea either.
A delivery man from The Foods of Athenry - a fellow Galway man did take the opportunity to offer the illustrious Irish milliner a cupcake but it was most graciously refused.
Incredibly, it was his first visit to the Dublin Horse Show he admitted as he surveyed his domain - ground zero for headware - as hundreds of behatted females eyed him hungrily, dying for just a glance of approval in their direction.
Treacy makes hats for everybody from Lady Gaga to the royal family - but some of his favourite moments are when he designs for women who have saved up for a special hat to wear for their child's wedding, he revealed.
"A woman who works in my shop in London says I don't sell hats, I sell dreams," he said.
On a day like this, the stakes were high indeed and by 11am, the crowds of dazzlingly attired females - and a semi-respectable scattering of stylish men who appeared to have stepped out of the last century complete with twirling moustaches, tweed and canes, had gathered on the lawn to begin the process of being evaluated.
An astonishing number of milliners - professional and hobbyists - were in their number.
Amongst them was Sarah McGahon from Bray, Co Wicklow - designer of the hat Amy Huberman wore for the British royal wedding of William and Kate. Sarah had literally stopped traffic as she boarded a bus bound for the Horse Show in her flamboyantly colourful hat.
Amateur hatter Philomena Cribben from Straffan, Co Kildare, walking on a zimmerframe as she awaits an operation on her knees, had fashioned herself a miniature 'Horse Show' scape on the lid of a hat box. A neighbour had helped to paint the little wooden jumps.
Six hours later, host Brendan Courtney had talked himself hoarse. Over 600 women had taken part in the event. "A record in the British Isles," declared Brendan.
But the winner was a cinche to spot. Leading milliner Carol Kennelly (42) from Tralee, Co Kerry, in her breath-taking ivory, ostrich feather skirt topped off with one of her own pearly creations was picked out of the overwhelming sea of chic and not-so-chic long before the results were announced, with a wistful "ah" of recognition and appreciation from the crowd.
The designer, Tina Griffin from Killorglin was "over screaming in the corner," revealed Carol afterwards. "I feel like crying and laughing and fainting all in the one go, I'm just delighted," Carol added. She hadn't thought about her €8,000 trip to New York yet.
It was her dream to meet Philip Treacy, she said. "He's inspirational. He's the king!" she declared.
The Most Stylish Man award went to Maurice Keogh (27, left)) a carpenter from Sandycove in Dublin, clad in a tweed jacket, waistcoat and mustard trousers, topped off with a dog-headed cane that combined both style and function, since Maurice chipped a bone in his ankle last week as he was working. "This isn't how I normally dress," he confessed. "Usually I'm covered in sawdust."
In head to toe cobalt blue "by Alexander McQueen" and with partner Stefan Bartlett in tow, Philip Treacy revealed how he was going home to Ahascragh for a week's holiday.