Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Master Milliner Stephen Jones

Yesterday we caught up with the master milliner, Stephen Jones, at Coworth Park for a quick chat about key trends for Spring/Summer 2013 and of course, the highlight of the millinery calendar... Royal Ascot.

World-renowned milliner, Stephen Jones, is curator of the Headonism initiative, which with the support of the British Fashion Council and sponsored by Royal Ascot, showcases a selection of the newest and most exciting millinery talent. Expectations are high with the summer social season just around the corner and an array of exciting fashions and millinery on offer!

You started your career by studying fashion design at Central St Martins - how did you end up working with hats?
I was a tailoring intern as I wanted to improve my sewing skills and was then transferred to the millinery workroom.

How would you describe your style of hats?
‘Elegant humour’

What materials and techniques do you favor?
The most classic material such as, pure white cotton, perfect black velvet and lustrous pink satin, or Day-Glo plastic.

Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
By everyday life.... but in particular, architecture

What are your top tips for Spring/Summer 2013 style?
The Duchess of Cambridge is still a front-runner on this front, but I expect a softening of her signature chic.

What are your key colours/designs for this Spring/Summer?
A lot of soft grey, blue and white, spiced with hot pink and vivid turquoise.

Is it best to match your hat to your dress or vice versa?
It’s best to match your hat with your face and then your clothes will follow on from that.

Should the hat be the focal point of the outfit?
No, the hat shouldn’t be the focal point of the outfit. The hat is merely a frame but it can be a conversation point too.

As curator of Headonism, how does it feel to be an ambassador for millinery?
It’s a tremendous honour and I am delighted to be able to mentor and ease the path of young British millinery talent.

Do you have a favourite type of hat?
Yes, a Top Hat or developments of a Top Hat because it always adds sex appeal, whether the wearer is male or female.

How important is millinery to Royal Ascot and British culture?
Together with the attendance of The Royal Family of course and the wonderful horses it is millinery and fashion that make Royal Ascot one of the most special events in the world.

A selection of Stephen Jones' designs can be found on our Royal Ascot Style Guide video.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Countryside Raceday, Racing Action Preview

After the excitement of the Grand National at Aintree yesterday, the racing action does not stop with a fine family raceday card here today.

Courtesy gets the Call in the opener
We open with the Colts and Fillies Club Maiden Hurdle (2.15) over 2m3f and the highest-rated horse in the field Village Vic is likely to be sent off favourite. The Philip Hobbs-trained six-year-old has put in some good efforts in better races than this, however he does not have “winning ways” about him and could be worth opposing with the unexposed Courtesy Call from the Nicky Henderson yard. He has had just one run over hurdles in February at Kempton over an inadequate 2m trip and as a winner off a BHA official rating of 81 on the Flat and over 2m he should be suited by this extra 3f and better ground.

Molotof can explode
We go chasing in the A.P. Security Novices’ Chase (2.50), the second race on today’s card, and it should be an easy opportunity for Molotof, a Grade 2-winning hurdler here in 2011, to put his head back in front after a down-the-field run at Cheltenham.

A novice chase winner at Warwick over 2m3f in February (a little reluctant to jump off), he was a good fourth to this week’s John Smith’s Mildmay Novices’ Chase winner Dynaste at Kempton before Christmas.  Molotof does have a welter-weight to shoulder here and if he has any shortcomings Kingsmere could be the one to take advantage. His form figures do not read too well, but he has been crying out for a sounder surface and could bounce back.

Go Dutch in the Juvenile Hurdle
Many of the runners in the Huge Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (3.25) are shouldering winners’ penalties and Little Dutch Girl does not escape having won by 17l at Taunton last time out, but as she is just a four-year-old and is filly she gets age and sex allowances and can make the most of that advantage.

Little Dutch Girl, Aazif and Calculated Risk all met at Doncaster in February with the three finishing in reverse order with just 7l between them. Calculated Risk, the John Quinn-trained winner, now has a stone more to carry than the Henderson filly which could be a deciding factor.

Another to take a look at is Kauto D’Aloes, who is out of a sister to the wonderful Kauto Star and has twice finished third on his two starts in Britain. This is his first run against his own age group and on better ground.

Turn to Grey for the BMW Chase
There will be plenty of pace on in the 2m BMW Novices’ Chase (4.00) with Ballygarvey, Kapga De Cerisy and Conquisto all habitual front-runners. If all run as expected, this testing track could set the race up for the improving six-year-old Greywell Boy, who stays well, can sit in and will still be galloping home at the end. Trainer Nick Williams selected this race as a target for the horse after a  last-time-out victory at Sandown.
Veteran Garleton still going strong

At the other end of the age spectrum Garleton is still putting in big efforts as a 12-year-old and he should make the journey south worthwhile for his Cumbria-based yard in the A.P. Security Veterans’ Chase (4.40).
The Maurice Burns-trained son of Anshan was last seen when a head second off a BHA mark of 142 in a 2m6f Listed chase at Kelso at the beginning of March with none other than yesterday’s Grand National winner Auroras Encore well back in fifth.

Garleton has only had two runs this season and comes here a fresher horse than Tullamore Dew, Fruity O’ Rooney and Monkerty Tunkerty, who finished fourth, fifth and seventh in the JLT Specialty Chase at the Festival, a race that may just have left its mark.

Top weight Hold On Julio will need to brush up his error-prone jumping if he is to feature.

Wings can Promise again
Promised Wings, sporting first-time blinkers, can follow up his last-time out success in the Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle (5.10) for the Chris Gordon yard, while Creevytennant is unopposable in the finale, the Fleming Family & Partners Hunter’s Chase (5.45). He ran well for a long way in the Foxhunter Chase at The Festival, and a return to a right-handed track and better ground will suit.

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