It's hard to win Best Dressed Lady at Galway Races - but Alex Butler did it
Fashion history was made at the Galway races when Alex Butler won the Kilkenny Best Dressed Lady competition two years after winning Best Hat at Ballybrit.
It's rare for a previous winner to be actually back in the parade ring to collect another style prize, and the 23-year-old Cork woman wore her rebel county colours with pride.
Alex's farmer boyfriend, Johnny Cronin, missed her win again - but at least he bought her shoes.
Alex accessorised her one-shouldered satin dress by Spanish designer Teria Yabar - bought at Vanilla Boutique in Midleton - with a pearl-trimmed headpiece by Leitrim milliner Jennifer Wrynne. And her €10,000 prize, sponsored by Kilkenny Group, includes a shopping spree at Kilkenny; a luxury five-star break courtesy of Ireland's Blue Book; clothing by Irish designer Aideen Bodkin; a bespoke Waterford Crystal trophy; jewellery by Irish designer Maureen Lynch; a year's hair care from Peter Mark and a Lancôme cosmetics hamper.
Alex, who works as a retail manager at SuperValu in Midleton, only spent the last of her Anthony Ryans' €1,500 prize from 2013 on a shopping spree in Galway yesterday, and she treated herself to a handbag.
Wednesday night was productive too for Mary White, a Galway tax official who took up millinery 10 years ago. Mary finished off a perched pillbox to match her pink and grey bespoke outfit by local designer Laura Jayne Halton. The elegant outfit worked a treat - and the science graduate won a €4,000 prize for Kilkenny Best Irish Design.
Dog groomer Danielle Gingell, from Yorkshire, who glamourises the canine population in Claremorris, Co Mayo, turned lots of heads with her vintage-feel hat of flowers wrapped in tulle headpiece - which was designed by US milliner Arturo Rios. The online purchase impressed and Danielle, who won the elegance prize sponsored by Longines at the Horse Show last year, won a €2,500 prize for Best Hat -including a luxury break courtesy of the Blue Book, jewellery by Irish designer Maureen Lynch and hair care from Peter Mark.
It's true what they say; Galway on Ladies Day is like the All Ireland of fashion.
Hats off to Irish milliner who is reaping rewards of Cheltenham success
So how much is a fashion win at the races worth?
Milliner Jennifer Wrynne from Ballinamore, Co Leitrim, says her business has doubled since she won Best Dressed at Cheltenham earlier this year wearing one of her own hats and a rental dress from Covet.
The formula worked again yesterday and while Jennifer wore another Gretta Considine rental from Covet, the hat she made for Alex Butler was part of the overall Best Dressed look that clinched the Kilkenny Group prize worth €10,000.
"I used to work on my own and now I have five people working for me, " said the jubilant milliner.
Alex said the flower hat she won with in 2013 had the 'Marmite effect' and while some people liked it, others slagged it off as looking like toilet paper. "I never expected to win again at Ballybrit but I think if you are relaxed, it helps. I loved my 2013 hat and wore it with confidence."
It was that same brand of confidence that got her over the line in style yesterday.