Ascot in the Antipodes ~ The Rainbow Collection
Worldwide, unprecedented events have impacted our routines, social occasions and relationships. The Covid-19 pandemic in particular has changed our lives, as we grapple with the economic and social consequences of this crisis. At times like this, it is easy to suggest that fashion and creativity is a frivolous waste of time. However, symbolism and hope can be derived from ideas and images, and used to encourage real and meaningful action. Furthermore, the fashion community can utilise this time to inspire and support each other, a beacon of positivity and creativity.
Royal Ascot starts this week - and for the first time in history, it will be 'behind closed doors'. The races will be run without the crowds, and for racing and fashion fans worldwide, the spectacle will be missing. Turning a negative into a positive, Royal Ascot created Royal Ascot at Home, and the #StyledWithThanks campaign, encouraging people to dress up, celebrate at home, share their images and most importantly, to make a donation to frontline charities working to alleviate the effects of Covid-19. They adopted a rainbow as their theme, encouraging people to embrace colour as they joined in the fun.
So, what did this have to do with six fashion-lovers in Australia? What did we have to gain by joining a campaign originating on the other side of the world?
Dressing up is fun. Donating to a very worthwhile cause is good. But six diverse women, each with a love of fashion and a background in the racing industry, saw this as an opportunity to take it a step further.
Using only outfits styled from existing items in our wardrobes, we banded together to create a rainbow of colour, and present some positive fashion inspiration to our friends, colleagues and strangers around the world. As well as proving that sustainable fashion is not an oxymoron, we also aimed to present a positive image and provide fashion inspiration by showcasing women of various ages, sizes and backgrounds dressed up and making the most of an unusual situation. We celebrated Royal Ascot in a uniquely Australian Way.
~Take some inspiration from the rainbow ~
RED. Bright, fiery, unmissable. The colour of love, blood, fire, danger, excitement.
Daisy lives in the country in southern New South Wales. She hoards hats, jewellery, handbags and other exquisite items which she uses to embellish her outfits. She is a regular on the local racing fashion circuit as well as organising her local raceday fashion competitions.
Daisy's dress and hat were made for her by ACT fashion designer @sovata_fashion_millinery. The breton-style hat beautifully frames the face, and it ties the colours of the dress together. Never treat a hat as a last minute item - a good hat can make or break an outfit. This dress in red and pink is perfect for dressing up or down, but can never go unnoticed. Daisy took the symbolism to heart, standing in the middle of a local road, daring people to stop. (Luckily, in country Australia, traffic isn't a major concern!)
ORANGE. Warm, creative, stimulating. A colour of dynamism and change.
With Brisbane's Story Bridge and a sunny afternoon providing the backdrop, Queenslander Margery (ie me) kept it simple, pairing a Staud Dress with a summer pillbox she owned from @monikaneuhausermillinery. Orange is a deceptive colour - many fear it, but it has many possibilities. Pair it with other colours such as blue, red or purple for striking looks. Or keep it simple, like this look, adding gold or neutral accessories.
In your fifties, fashion is all about attitude, not age. Be canny enough to know what works for you, but daring enough to experiment.
YELLOW. Cheerful, joyful, optimistic. It exudes confidence and communication.
Think carefully before you throw away a beautifully made investment piece. Kash's Issey Miyake top was bought 9 years ago, and is as fabulous now as the day it entered her wardrobe. Kash, a.k.a. @thestyledoctor, is a master at mixing new and old items to get different and on-trend looks. Here, she opted for head-to-toe yellow, in a combination which belies her petite frame. The wide-leg trousers, another much-loved item, add to the look and give a modern update to the 70s silhouette which is becoming popular yet again.
And when you live in Sydney, the steps of the famous Opera House make an effective background!
GREEN. Harmony, growth, stability. The colour to calm you and - maybe - bring good luck
It may have been a grey day, but with the Sydney Harbour Bridge for company, Viera made the most of her picturesque location. Using a hat and handbag from her @getracy collection, she layered green upon green upon green. The tones were all different, but put together the effect was surprisingly cohesive and tailored. Viera's shirt features one of the current must-have occasion-wear items - the pussy bow at her neck. Tied at the front here, also try wearing bows to the side, at an angle, and in different sizes for different effects.
Viera is originally from Slovakia, but has embraced the Australian lifestyle, enjoying a variety of sports and spending time outdoors whenever she can.
BLUE. Relaxing, loyal, reliable. Evoking the sea, the sky and the serenity of your surroundings.
Emma is tall and lean, and looks just as comfortable in casual wear driving a tractor as she does when she is on location modelling. Here, the location is her own property in rural New South Wales, with the quintessential gum trees behind.
Emma's dress is seemingly casual in tie-dye cotton, but the addition of the broad brimmed hat with the wide navy headband makes it a simple and elegant summer racewear outfit. By changing the hatband, she can use the hat with different looks.
Emma's quirky style includes a bag within a bag (look closely at her handbag). Emma loves experimenting with fashion and the challenge of finding new ways to reinvent old looks.
PURPLE (We cheated, instead of Indigo and Violet). Luxury, extravagance, spirituality. A complex and mystical colour.
Peta likes being different. Can you tell? The youngest of our group, still in her twenties, she is a regular racing fashions winner thanks to her ability to identify new looks but adapt them to suit her style and personality. She often does this by raiding her wardrobe (filled with more than a few not-to-be-underestimated high street items) and putting multiple items together or piling them on top of each other, experimenting until she finds a combination that appeals to her.
Peta's dress - bought some time ago - has been paired with her unique @millineryjill hat. Pops of colour like this can elevate an outfit from ordinary to extraordinary.
From Southern Victoria, a part of Australia that can be very blustery and cold in June, Peta decided the best place to pose to avoid the wind was in front of the local school.
Social media allows friends around the world to join together, celebrate, and participate in ideas, activities and positive events. If you would like to see and be inspired by all the Ascot at Home fashions this week, follow the hashtags #StyledWithThanks and #RoyalAscot. More importantly, donate to their charities (link on the Royal Ascot Website) or donate your money or time to your own preferred causes.