Fruity style bowls over the judges in Ballybrit
Until last Saturday, Aoife Mac Cana's Galway races hat was a decorative fruit bowl in Debenhams.
The IT software project manager from Spiddal yesterday turned a €42 homewares bargain into a head-turning €10,000 prize-winning hat.
Aoife fought off stiff competition and scooped the g Hotel's Best Dressed Lady prize at Ballybrit yesterday.
The savvy hat maker asked special effects costumer, Julian Checkley, to transform the bowl into a matt chrome sculpture on a nifty headband.
To this she added a silk disc base blocked with two layers of buckram.
She arrived at the racecourse with blisters on her fingers from working on the unique hat.
Given the headpiece's architectural and structural appearance, Aoife contrasted it with a fluid, film noir-influenced, ice-blue satin dress from the Ghost label at Arnotts.
Talk about DIY zeal; she shortened the dress, which featured attractive geometric stitching on the shoulders and waist, and used that fabric for her hat base and to cover a clutch bag.
"I did a course over two evenings with Galway milliner, Michael Mullins, about 16 months ago and turned a hobby into a side career," she said proudly.
"I have my own website, Mac Cana Millinery and I now love making hats for people.
"What I loved about this win today is that it proves that everything is absolutely achievable, at any age," said Aoife, who turns 45 in March.
"I think people have so many talents but fear holds them back."
Her prize was presented by Triona Barrett, of the five-star g Hotel.
As part of her prize, Aoife will enjoy a luxury stay in their penthouse, spa treatments, diamond jewellery and a trip to London.
Meanwhile, there was a touch of 'pioneering' magic about the Davina Lynch paper origami headpiece which won Oniesa Owens the coveted 'Best Hat' title and a €2,000 prize.
Davina and Oniesa met as teenagers in the Pioneer Association in Co Cavan and then linked up again on Facebook.
Oniesa, area manager for Tractamotors Tyres and now living in Granard, commissioned the hat from Davina's WhiteStar collection which is inspired by the Japanese art of paper folding. Building on the folding theme, her dress, bought at Gallery 9, in Naas, was from the Solace London brand which is known for its distinctive pleated fabrication. Cheering Oniesa on was her husband, country music record producer Jonathan Owens, who works with Nathan Carter, Declan Nerney and Derek Ryan.