Suzanne makes it a double as she wins best dressed for second time
A 20 dollar vintage cameo brooch turned into a €25,000 windfall for racing fashion queen Suzanne McGarry in the Curragh yesterday.
Suzanne took inspiration from the blue brooch and designed her dress of cream scalloped lace over cornflower blue silk worn with a disc hat by Galway milliner Edel Ramberg .
"I put my heart into this outfit and it took a few months to get it just right after I bought the brooch on Etsy.com," said Suzanne. She teared up emotionally after being presented with her prize by Eva Maria Bucher-Haefner whose late father Walter founded the Moyglare Stud in Maynooth 50 years ago.
Her prize takes Suzanne to the White Turf races held on the snow in St Moritz in February and the sales consultant also won €5,000 of Newbridge Silverware presented to her by Gay Byrne.
An experienced fashion competitor on the racing circuit, Suzanne won Best Dressed at the Galway Races in 2011 and she confessed how she 'road tested' the outfit earlier in the summer but aimed to have it right for yesterday and the free admission to the course attracted a big crowd.
Many of the fashion hopefuls looked to the Newbridge Silverware 'Style Icon ' museum down the road for inspiration for their outfits and there were lots of family heirlooms rolled out from handbags to shoes , umbrellas to hats.
"I'm the only Galway woman here today" declared Rita Melia from Athenry who was one of the five Best Dressed finalists wearing the Mother-of-bride outfit from her daughter Ruth's vintage-themed wedding at the Meyrick hotel in June.
Maria Osborne from Naas wore a red vintage jumpsuit she bought for €30 online, an Aisling Ahern bought hat bought for her as a birthday present plus the cream shoes from her wedding this summer. "The red is typical of a primary school teacher going for primary colours, " she laughed.
Doncaster -native Pam Lynch , now living in Kildare looked the epitome of Grace Kelly elegance in a vintage Escada dress with a narrow fur collar and a pearl encrusted hat by Tralee milliner Carol Kennelly.
Gay Byrne recalled his Late Late interview Audrey Hepburn, the most legendary style icon of all.
"She was everything I expected her to be and more and at the end, she stood up, put her arms around my neck and kissed me on the lips. I wasn't right for three weeks afterwards," said Gay who revealed he has recorded three of six programmes for the next series of his RTE show The Meaning of Life due to screen in October.
"I interviewed Niall Quinn, Noel Gallagher (of Oasis fame) and also Mary McAleese who was so interesting, we are extending the McAleese show from half an hour to 60 minutes.
"She has done a licentiate in Canon law in Rome and is going back to do a two year doctorate ," said Gay.
The Irish racing scene is full of the so-called 'professionals' who make a hobby, for some a career, of competiting in the Best Dressed competitions and yesterday's prize at €25,000 was the richest single win this year so it's little wonder Suzanne put in so much work and effort into her €500 outfit and later cried alittle as she contemplated the prospect of heading off to glamorous racing in the snow in Switzerland.
The fact that Suzanne won yesterday 14 months after her high profile win at Ballybrit with a black and red outfit is testimony to the Sligo's her eye for getting it right on the day.
She has acquired a skill at balancing an outfit and achieving an original look - the kind of stand-out-in-the-crowd look that gets you noticed by both photographers and judges.
She clearly has an ability to balance the whole big hat/ great dress conundrum. Call it yin and yang if you like, but on Suzanne, they are never opposing forces, almost complementary.
In this case, she designed the dress and had it made by Verona Doherty . She also liased with milliner Edel Ramberg on the hat which featured stiffened lace similar to that used in her dress. If the scalloped lace was easy, finding the cornflower blue fabric for the underdress was not but when it came together, she accessorised with simple nude accessories including a clutch from high street store Barratts.
Earlier, I mingled with contestants in the Newbridge Style Lounge where there was everything from hair grooming to last minute make-up application and a tarot card reader. It was clear from my detective work that the eager contestants hadn't just gone out and bought an accessories and outfit for the day. These outfits had been planned with almost military precision and eager contestants took the opportunity to pre-register their intent to be considered.
I went away with a handful of business cards from young women who approached and told me they had started their own hat making business. What is it about hats that has sparked such a reincarnation in millinery skills.
I also went home delighted that I hadn't encountered a single ball gall at the Curragh race course. Allelieu.
Cynics will guffaw about a racing regular winning yet anothe prize but the reality is, these 'professionals' as they are known on the race course circuit, put a lot of work into evolving their look and editing their frocks to suit the occasion.
The Style Icon title of the Newbridge sponsored gig gave plenty of clues as to the vibe of the gig and with Moyglare Stud involved, it was always going to be a very classy line up.