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Tuesday 17 January 2017

The chic fabric holding Ladies’ Day together

Amazing hats and cut-price couture on show amid sky-high style standards

Published 22/07/2016 | 02:30

Caithriona King and Cathy Dillon, both from Galway. Photos: Colin O’Riordan and Gareth Chaney
Caithriona King and Cathy Dillon, both from Galway. Photos: Colin O’Riordan and Gareth Chaney

They came in dresses made by their mothers 45 years ago. The glamorous gloves, high-street finds, dresses from upcoming wedding trousseaux and even a vintage 1950s hat lovingly brought home on a flight from New York.

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They came in dresses made by their mothers 45 years ago. The glamorous gloves, high-street finds, dresses from upcoming wedding trousseaux and even a vintage 1950s hat lovingly brought home on a flight from New York.

Yes indeed, the style squad were out in force at the RDS yesterday for the Dundrum Town Centre Ladies' Day at the Dublin Horse Show.

The Best Dressed prize, worth €10k, was quite an incentive. The keen entrants exhibited a competitive streak, forming an orderly queue from 11am.

From left: Anne McCaffrey with her daughter Caroline White and grandaughter Charlotte (4) All from Knocklyon. Photo: Gareth Chaney
From left: Anne McCaffrey with her daughter Caroline White and grandaughter Charlotte (4) All from Knocklyon. Photo: Gareth Chaney

The Ladies' Day crowd included three generations of one family: Anne McCaffrey from Knocklyon, with her daughter Caroline White and her four-year-old daughter Charlotte, who wore matching dresses.

"We were in Maastricht last week at Andre Rieu and Caroline saw the matching dresses so we decided to go to Ladies' Day at the RDS," said Anne.

There was a heavy sprinkling of mothers and daughters and husband-and-wife combinations, with Raymond Gilbourne from Millstreet, Co Cork, coming to support his wife, Gillian, resplendent in the cream dress she wore to her son's communion. Raymond ended up clinching the Best Dressed Man's prize and won a Louis Copeland made-to-measure suit.

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Emer Mulcahy from Cork at Ladies' Day. Photo: Gareth Chaney
Emer Mulcahy from Cork at Ladies' Day. Photo: Gareth Chaney

More than 400 enthusiastic style queens and fashionable gents registered over the course of five hours to enter the competition.

When we got down to judging at 4pm, myself and my co-judge, international curvy model Louise O'Reilly from Dublin, were certain about one thing - the standard was incredibly high. The originality, personal styling and those amazing hats from Ireland's incredible milliners marked this year's competition as one of the best ever at the RDS.

They wore everything from designer dresses to Jimmy Choo shoes, and there were proud boasts of "this is from Penneys, H&M and Tesco".

Who would have known you could buy such a sleek jumpsuit between the toilet rolls and baked beans in the supermarket chain?

As we sifted through the images, we quickly established our favourites. There were so many backstories to be considered, too.

The bride-to-be posing with her mother a week before the nuptials, the lady with the incredible headpiece made from pieces of four hats. And the dapper male entrant who took Laura Woods, the MC, by surprise and told her that they had been at college together.

"I don't remember you being this stylish at college," she joked. Familiar faces came up to us on stage during the five hours of judging.

Annemarie Blennerhassett from Ranelagh gave us a masterclass in how to look chic with just 11 weeks to go in her pregnancy.

We saw hats made from tablemats and a giant winged affair from Galway milliner Caithriona King.

Another expert on cut-price couture, a mum from Mount Merrion, happily boasted how each piece in her outfit cost less than €8 in a vintage shop.

Why did Claire Murphy from Tralee win Best Dressed? It was certainly a day for cream outfits, and I put a lot of that down to the Kate Middleton effect. So many people are impressed by her cream outfits by designer Sarah Burton for McQueen, in particular the two coat dresses she wore to the christenings of Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

Claire Murphy's choice of cream was inspired - it matched her skin tone perfectly. The dress and cape made by Tina Griffin was inspired by the lime- green hat she earlier bought from Tralee milliner Carol Kennelly. As we sat onstage looking out at the sea of fabulously dressed ladies and gents, both Louise and myself found ourselves stretching our heads to try to see more of that lady wearing the green hat.

Fitness teacher and part- time stylist Rebecca Rose Quigley won the 'Elegance is an Attitude' award with her red dress from the Jennifer Wrynne boutique in Powerscourt Town House and a saucer hat by Wendy Louise.

Footsore but not defeated, the posse of entrants took off from the Ballsbridge showground destined for the Shelbourne Hotel - and another fashion competition to prove their mettle.

Irish Independent

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