I think black and white is always a winning combination so it seemed fitting that I wore monochrome whilst on reporting duties for Seven Racing at The Championships. I also knew that I wanted to wear something clean and simple as I would be on camera and didn’t want anything too fussy. Whilst I gravitate towards wearing white because it’s always guaranteed to look fresh, what I loved most about this top and skirt combination by Stella McCartney were its finishing touches. The split sleeve, the ribbed texture, the ruffled waist trim—all of these elements made the set stand out and gave it a little personality. The combination all worked together to give my ensemble some depth without being too over the top.
In keeping with the monochrome theme I kept the rest of my accessories in the same colour palette. My favourite piece had to be the Nerida Winter headband. The statement bow at the back elevated it and gave it a sweet touch. I think it’s sometimes nice to have a big standout feature on the back for something different. Simple studded Alaïa heels and a chain strap Dior bag finished off the look and gave it a polished touch.
Over the years I’ve worn so many great pieces from milliner extraordinaire Nerida Winter to the races. You can always rely on one of her pieces to make a statement trackside. As spring racing season ramps up and Melbourne Cup is just around the corner I asked Nerida for some insider tips on top racewear trends to look out for plus how to pull together a perfect outfit.
How did you establish such a successful name as a milliner?
A lot of continuous hard work and dedication – I think family upbringing has a lot to do with it too – I grew up with a creative father who taught me to think outside the square and that a spade was not necessarily a spade, it could be anything I wanted it to be. My mum and grandmother were always teaching me some form of arts and crafts, so it was a very colourful house!
What is the most important style advice you have ever received?
Follow your own look and not others .
Who inspires you?
Vivienne Westwood has inspired me for decades – I adore her fearlessness and her punk-like qualities.
What trends will we see for the racing season this year?
There is something for everyone this season. I love the idea of mixing in some 70s glam and the 80s’ strong structural dresses could be a lot of fun to wear [to the races]. The modern take on tailoring is understated and elegant and I think the Victorian style dresses are incredible and I can’t wait to see how girls interpret those for the track.
What colours, textures and styles will we see for headwear this year?
My favourites are the pleats, lace, ruffles, florals – femme heaven! I’m also loving all the pinks, reds and there is still a bit of sparkle about. Monochrome looks are Derby Day essentials – from sculptural wide brimmed shapes to smaller florals.
What are your tips for putting together the perfect racing outfit?
Investing in good craftsmanship and quality of design will allow you to wear the pieces more than once. The power of tailoring is often underestimated.
What dressing mistakes should women avoid?
Don’t let your headwear be an afterthought – it’s the piece that makes the day so special.
When dressing for the races, be careful not to overdo it – I like to focus on one piece, whether that is the hat, the dress, shoe or bag and build the outfit around that. Too many times you see the accessories competing with the outfit and it can look really forced and costume like.
It’s a long day on your feet, so wearing your shoes in a little first is wise (I learnt the hard way).
Do you have an all time favourite head piece?
Absolutely – I have had a lifetime love of all things punk rock, so my feathered mohawks have been a staple in my wardrobe.
Derby Day is all about monochrome and this year I decided to opted for an all-white outfit with accents of black. I had fallen in love with this look from Stella McCartney’s latest collection and wanted to wear something that had a 70s flair so this ensemble was perfect. The tailored flared pants and wide brimmed hat were a great way to mix up a traditional race day outfit. I love a white on white look but I have to admit that I spent the entire day trying to avoid puddles!
I have almost lost count of the number of gorgeous pieces I’ve worn by Nerida Winter. She’s one of my go-to milliners as she’s genius at being able to work current fashion trends into race day headwear. With Melbourne Cup day fast approaching, I asked Nerida to share some of her dos and don’ts for race day along with some of the big trends to look out for.
“From feathered edgy crowns to French lace versions, we have made the ultimate princess accessory track-worthy.”
Zatanna silk satin floral headband, $295
“Feminine 70s floral garlands and halos will give your frock a new mood.”
The key colours
“Monochrome is huge and perfect for Derby Day elegance. A multitude of pinks and reds are Cup day essentials and metallics, nudes and blush pinks are Hollywood heroine-worthy and Oaks Day appropriate.”
Nerida’s dos and don’ts
When it comes to headwear always invest in the best quality/craftsmanship you can. If you want longevity and versatility you can’t go wrong with something in black.
It’s important to always choose a shape you feel good in regardless of fads. This season our onyx Nadia boater will have you looking amazing for many race days to come.
As far as spring racing no-nos go fascinators are dead – especially the DIY type . Overworked styles with too many tricks will make you look very dated, as will a matchy-matchy approach.
Embrace headwear and try more styles outside of your comfort zone. Your accessories should never be an afterthought as they are the key to setting you apart from the crowd.
The Queen’s granddaughter and equestrian, Zara Phillips, spent the festive season in Australia with her husband, rugby star Mike Tindall, and their one-year-old daughter, Mia. Phillips, 33, visited as part of her role as patron of the Magic Millions Racing Women. She chatted to me about motherhood, returning to the Olympics and the Queen’s great-grandmum duties.
What brought you to Australia?
The Magic Millions race day, Katie Page-Harvey [its co-owner] and her initiative of women in racing: trying to get more women owing racehorses … and trying to get more women-owned syndicates.
You attend races all around the world, including Ascot. What is the biggest difference between horseracing in Britain compared to the Magic Millions?
It’s very relaxed here. Obviously, the heat is a very different thing, altogether. Wearing heels in this heat is definitely the hardest thing to do! But yes, it’s a very different atmosphere. It’s fun, it’s relaxed. It’s a very different style of racing, so it’s always interesting to go to the different tracks.
What have you been doing while in Australia?
I’ve been here a month. We came down for a friend’s wedding in December and then there was no point going home. So we spent Christmas and New Year’s here with just friends in Sydney. It has been really good because Mia is one, so being able to be out in the sun and go to the beach has been really good for her.
Last time we chatted you weren’t yet a mother. Are you enjoying motherhood?
I was really surprised, actually. I really enjoy it. I think the worst thing, when I was pregnant, was a lot of people would come and tell you the bad stories – and of course there are dramas, but it has been great. I’ve actually loved it. I think I’ve been very lucky. She’s been a good baby. She has just fitted in.
Zara with her husband Mike Tindall and their daughter Mia.
What has been the biggest change since becoming a mother?
The biggest change, when packing to go anywhere, is I always arrive everywhere with nothing – because I’ve always packed everything for her! [Laughs] I get her all organised and I pack for myself last minute and chuck everything in and then I arrive somewhere and I’m like, “I didn’t put anything in!”
Is Mike a hands-on dad?
Yes, he’s really good. He just retired the last season so it has been really good to have him around. I went back [to] riding. So it was a great help as well, with him being around a bit more, to be able to do that. He’s great. I totally trust him with her.
Is he good at changing nappies?
Yes, he’s very good at changing nappies.
And what about your grandma? Does she ever do babysitting duties?
No, no – she’s got four great grandkids now. So she just loves having the grandkids around [and] great grandkids around. She loves having family together.
Does she attend many playdates with Prince George and Mia?
Yes. Family time is very precious to her. So we’ll try and get everyone together and make sure that she sees everyone.
What is a typical day for you?
I get up and I sort Mia [out]. Then, if Mike is around, I might try and go and ride while she has a sleep and come back after. I’m very lucky because I’m essentially self-employed. I can go and do some work, come back, so it’s very flexible. But [I] try and get some [equestrian] training in for myself.
Do you plan to compete in the Rio Olympics?
Hopefully. That’s the kind of next step. We’ve got European [events] this year – we’ve got to qualify. I’ll try and keep the four-legged person in one piece and see what happens.
Zara competing at the Olympics.
When you come to Australia, do you get recognised everywhere you go?
Mike gets recognised before me, actually! Because he is taller and everyone recognises the bent nose [laughs]. And then they’ll like see him and then they’ll like look for me. It’s not too bad. It depends where you are, which is a little bit same at home.
Can you lead a pretty normal life back home?
Yes. We live the country so it’s much easier.
You are very approachable and grounded, but do people have a misconception about you and get intimidated by you being a royal?
Yes, I think so. I mean, I guess it’s different for me – I’m not doing official things the whole time. At the end of the day, everyone is a person. I’ve been lucky: my brother and I have been brought up without titles and had a very normal upbringing. That’s thanks to my mum and dad. So my parents hopefully did a good job.
Will you raise Mia in a similar way?
We’ll try, yeah. I guess now, it’s trying to do the same for your own child. It’s nice to kind of go back and remember what your parents were doing with you and what your childhood was like. I guess we had a great childhood with a lot of family and you want to try and do the same for them.
Magic Millions sometimes creeps up on me because it’s straight after the holiday season. As I was still in holiday mode I wanted an outfit that was easy to pull together so I opted for a classic little black dress by Camilla and Marc – I don’t think you can ever go wrong with race day black, it’s always timeless and classic. The last few years I’ve gone for a more extravagant headpiece so this year I wanted to tone it down a bit and paired my dress with a simple Nerida Winter straw boater. And just to add a bit of an edge to my outfit, I opted for a statement heel by Tabitha Simmons.
You may have seen Nerida Winter’s gorgeous creations on a recent episode of Fashion Bloggers and been in awe of how amazing they are. I can attest to the fact that she is one very talented lady! Nerida’s creations have been seen on everyone from Princess Mary to Jesinta Campbell and her work has featured in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle. Here I talk to Australia’s milliner extraordinaire…
Getting started in millinery…
“I studied fashion at college and fell in love with millinery straight away. I loved that you could make something really different every day.”
My first client was Barbie…
“The first hat I made was a miniature one for my Barbie as a little girl. I would always enlist the pros (my mum and grandmother) to make her look as I saw fit! Many years later I had the pleasure of making some more miniature ones for Barbie in Grazia magazine. I absolutely loved this so much – I felt like I was 5 all over again.”
My design process…
“Some hats take around 5-8 hours and some take weeks and weeks; it depends on the complexity of design and construction. It all starts with a thought and endless possibilities then the hard labour comes in.
We start with a malleable fibre and manipulate it into a shape with industrial strength steam. From there it gets treated to keep its shape and waits to dry. After that is when the fun begins – trimming can be elegant, pretty, edgy and fun and very time consuming. If we are making to order for a client, it involves fittings to achieve what the wearer has imagined.”
My inspiration comes from…
“My head is a giant melting pot of music, art, fashion and history so whatever I am loving at the time will come out in the form of headwear.”
I’d love to create a hat for…
“I would have loved to play with Anna Piaggi – her spirit and love of fashion was so inspiring, so when I think of the ultimate, it would have been her.”
My rules for race day headwear…
“Putting on a hat should make you feel fabulous. There’s a fine line between fashion and race etiquette, so finding the balance is all up to you but being respectful is a must.”
My rules for dressing for the races…
“Making daywear glamorous is a good place to start – so no miniskirts and crop tops and the all important rule: keep your shoes on no matter how much they hurt.”
How I feel when I see my ideas become a reality…
“I still get such a great buzz from seeing my pieces come alive. As they are all new creations each time, the joy is always the same. I am very fortunate to have so many incredible people to work with so I never take that for granted.”
Oaks Day is ladies day so opt for a more feminine approach on this day. Think soft, pretty and feminine when putting your outfit together. You can never go wrong with floral prints and beautiful lace but this season it’s all about pretty pastels. When it comes to headwear opt for a gorgeous floral headpiece, bejewelled headband, lace veil or fine netting, as they are the top trends for this day. When it comes to accessories you can’t go wrong with heels and clutch in a neutral tone.