Classic elegance wins out. . .
Best birthday present for Most Stylish Lady
THE cool sophistication of florist Annmarie O'Leary shone at Ballybrit yesterday, where her vintage-inspired outfit earned her the title of Most Stylish Lady, a special prize on her 40th birthday.
Annmarie's winter-white dress was part Marilyn Monroe, part Victoria Beckham, with a little hint of designer Roland Mouret thrown in.
The tailored, body skimming silhouette was the epitome of ladylike sophistication, and the florist, from Camp, Co Kerry, was a popular choice with the judges in the keenly contested Anthony Ryan-sponsored Best Dressed competition.
Her thoughtfully conceived outfit was a testimony to elegance and the glamour of yesteryear, the polar opposite of gauche, Celtic Tiger, bling-bling fashions, where conspicuous consumption ruled and long sleeves and mid-calf hemlines were unheard of.
This winning outfit did not fall together at the 11th hour by accident. From researching pictures of a favourite Marilyn Monroe dress to checking out vintage Vogue patterns online, the dress was created using strategically placed seams and darts.
The dress was designed by Karen Moriarty, while her sequinned hat, decorated with chrysanthemums, was created by milliner Carol Kennelly.
"This is very good news for me after moving back to Kerry and I'm thrilled to have won," said Annmarie, who runs A New Leaf, an online wedding florist.
"I wanted an elegant, ladylike, comfortable outfit for the races. I like feminine clothes, the dress is very comfortable and the bow on the shoulder was my idea," said Annmarie, who moved back to Kerry from Dublin last September.
Her milliner friend Carol added: "I did a millinery course with Lina Stein after I won the Best Dressed prize at Galway two years ago," said Carol.
"I thought it was just a hobby but then two months ago, I decided to give up my job at the Carlton Hotel in Tralee to go into hat-making full time, so to have two hats in the finals at Galway and for Annmarie to win is just incredible."
It was the little touches that grabbed our attention in the judges' marquee.
Annmarie had added appropriate vintage touches such as a faux chignon bulked up at the back with bronze and gold blooms.
The Hollywood glam brooch, which looked very authentic sitting on the shoulder, was rescued from a hat, while her shoes came from Wild Pair and the metallic envelope clutch came from Effigy, both in Tralee.
Best Dressed sponsor Anthony Ryan presented Annmarie with a €12,500 cache of prizes which included an €8,500 diamond pendant, a €1,500 shopping spree and €1,000 in cash.
"It was lovely to celebrate my birthday with a day out with my friends and to win the Best Dressed prize like this is just wonderful," said Annmarie, whose adventure started at 4am when she left Tralee to share the drive to Galway with Carol.
The Best Hat prize, worth €1,500, went to Galway-born surveyor Aoife Ryan, who wore a spectacular headpiece bought by her sister Ailish in New York.
A stunning creation executed in black straw, this was pure architecture for the head.
There was nothing cliched or conventional about it and the swirling spirals resembled the rings of Saturn.
They sat out from her smiling face, set off to great effect by her black Nicole Miller dress bought locally and a velvet stole.
Aoife was presented with her prize of a €1,500 shopping spree at Ryan's department store of Shop Street in Galway by Breda Ryan, mother of the MD Anthony Ryan.