For the fashion-savvy dresser, spring is about more than just cleaning out the cupboards and planting fresh herbs – it signals the start of the spring racing season.
The warmer months are all about horses, champagne and headwear as women don their finest frocks and battle it out in the hotly contested Fashions on the Field.
Fairy Meadow milliner Victoria Kennedy is already preparing for a busy race season, predicting colour, feathers and structured hats to be popular across the carnivals.
Kennedy, owner of label Terence Gregory, said the days of simply popping on a one-feather fascinator were dead; headwear is now a serious business.
“It’s less about getting something trend-based and more about investing in a piece that won’t date.”
“Fashions on the Field have become quite a big thing over the years, especially with young girls; they’re willing to put a lot of work into their outfit,” she said.
“A hat or headpiece really allows someone to show off their creative side and their personality – it’s about having that perfect finishing touch on an outfit”.
This spring is set to be all about bright shades and detail with Kennedy predicting vibrant hues, feathers and prints to feature heavily on the lawn.
“Spring racing is always about colour, it’s a chance to get away from black,” she said.
“I’ve already seen a lot of orange, fuchsia and purple and lots of clashing prints. It’s not about matching any more.”
Traditional fascinators are expected to be replaced this spring with more structured, classic hats.
“I think we’ve really gone back to that sort of timeless elegance,” Kennedy said.
“It’s less about getting something trend-based and more about investing in a piece that won’t date”.
After nearly 11 years in the millinery business, she knows what’s hot in hats.
Her previous brand, Victoria Kennedy, was stocked in David Jones stores and she continues to sell her style in headwear to clients around the globe.
She opened her Fairy Meadow store, Terence Gregory, two years ago as a tribute to her late father.
“My dad was always my biggest supporter and he encouraged me to open the store,” she said.
“He was only 67 when he died and I know he thought he was too young to go – he didn’t want me to be in the same position and not have pursued all my dreams.”
Now, her team dedicates several days to making each individual piece, working with everyone from racegoers to wedding guests to create the desired look.
“Years ago, I was only selling stock for Melbourne Cup, but since then headwear has really had a resurgence,” she said.
“I think it’s a lot to do with Kate Middleton’s wedding. People want to wear hats now.”
Wedding looks, for brides and guests, have more recently thrown back to the ’20s, thanks in part to Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby remake, leading a surge of requests for rhinestones and lace.
For the upcoming wedding season, Kennedy predicts calls for big hats and modern pieces that make a splash.
“There’s nothing better for us than seeing someone dressed to the nines, wearing something we’ve made for them,” she said.
“It’s a great feeling, knowing you’ve helped them find the right hat for them.”