Hats off to style

RTE Presenter Gerry Ryan and Anthony Ryan, the Best Dressed Lady sponsors, pictured with Best Dressed Winner Mary Therese Mc Donnell 
and Best Hat Winner Sinead Purcell.

RTE Presenter Gerry Ryan and Anthony Ryan, the Best Dressed Lady sponsors, pictured with Best Dressed Winner Mary Therese Mc Donnell and Best Hat Winner Sinead Purcell.

It was a day of fabulous frocks, killer heels and heavenly hats as fashionistas threw caution (and occasionally delicately balanced head pieces ) to the wind and determined to enjoy Ladies Day at the Galway Races despite the credit crunch.

Thrifty chic was in evidence as the budget conscious married fashion flair with an eye for a bargain to stunning effect. Last season’s hats were revamped and outfits were given a new lease of life with flirty trims in the season’s hottest shades and showstopping accessories.

Mary Therese McDonnell of Santry, Dublin walked away with €12,000 in prizes as the winner of Anthony Ryan’s Best Dressed Lady Competition. Her prizes included a one carat diamond solitaire pendant valued at €8,000, a Louise Kennedy designed Tipperary Crystal Aurora trophy; €2,000 in cash and €2,000 in vouchers for a shopping spree at Anthony Ryan’s.

The Mayo born home economics teacher wore a colourful silk kaftan dress (€169 ) which was designed by Brazilians Mimi Frou Frou and bought at Neola boutique in Malahide. She co-ordinated her dress with eye-catching accessories including a clutch bag from a high street shop and a cerise daisy feather hat which she borrowed from Dublin hat designer Jacqueline Layton.

Sporting a hat designed by Westport based milliner, Lena Stein, Sinead Purcell from Cappagh Road, Galway was the winner of the Anthony Ryan’s Best Hat Competition. Her stunning fan shaped hat featured black lace over cream satin. She was presented with a prize of a luxury trip for two to Boston including flights and accommodation valued at €1,500 by Anthony Ryan and his mother, Breda.

There was no entry required for the competitions. Judges mingled through the crowd and invited chosen finalists to the judging marquee which was located adjacent to the champagne tent at the race enclosure.

All 40 finalists in the Best Dressed competition at the Anthony Ryan marquee received a special collection of Lancôme cosmetics compliments of University Pharmacy, Newcastle Road.

Judging this year’s event were well-known Irish media personalities and fashion journalists - Sinead Desmond, presenter of Ireland AM on TV3, PJ Gibbons, editor, Social and Personal magazine, Bernard Connolly, international fashion stylist and fashion director with Social and Personal, Patricia McCrossan, managing director, Galway NOW magazine, and Fiona Durkin, fashion consultant at Anthony Ryan’s.

Conscious of the current economic climate the judges were seeking a Best Dressed Lady with an innate sense of style who could put together a winning ensemble without having to spend a fortune.

“Yves St Laurent once said, ‘Fashion fades - style is eternal,’” said Anthony Ryan managing director of Anthony Ryan’s. “Mindful of the times we are living in we chose this theme to encourage ladies entering to focus on true style. Our panel of judges on Thursday were on the lookout to find the lady with an innate sense of style who could put together a winning ensemble irrespective of the price tag.”

Celebrating 100 years in business, the award winning Anthony Ryan’s sponsored both the Best Dressed Lady and Best Hat competitions with a prize bonanza valued at €14,000.

“The winners of the competitions were to be congratulated for their outstanding sense of style and elegance,” outlined Mr Ryan. “Despite the recession, Ladies Day at Ballybrit maintained its reputation as the most stylish and glamorous fashion event on the Irish racing calendar.”

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