Fashion at the July Festival
Tens of thousands flocked to Newmarket’s Moët & Chandon July Festival, for three days of fun, flat racing and fashion.
The sun shone, the bubbly flowed and competition was stiff for the Style Awards – the best-dressed contest, sponsored by The Spa at Bedford Lodge and partnered by Velvet. Let’s raise a glass to the winners
Day 1: Ladies’ Day
More than 1,200 entrants were whittled down to just 10 in the Best Dressed Lady competition, always the most hotly contested category in the Style Awards.
Bright block colours, pretty floral prints and statement hats were the order of the day. Ana Pribylova, last year’s best dressed lady and this year’s resident milliner, joined Velvet and the Bedford Lodge team on the judging panel.
With a holiday to Dubai, courtesy of Emirates, topping the list, there were some once-in-a-lifetime prizes to be won. And one lucky best dressed entrant, selected at random, went home with the Velvet raffle hamper: containing everything from pamper products and a pair of handbags to fine dining vouchers, it was worth £1,700. Congratulations to our winner!
BEST DRESSED LADY: WINNER
Anna Campbell, visitor from New Zealand
“This is my first time at Newmarket Ladies’ Day and I am so excited to have won - I can't believe it!
"I’m actually visiting from New Zealand: we’ve come over for a friend’s birthday party in London and when I saw the races were on, we travelled here specially. I love fashion, especially at the races, so it's been great seeing everyone here today.
“My daughter purchased the dress for me from a boutique online - it's a Alice McCall mock-up! I built the outfit from there. The hat is from New Zealand and it’s by Monika Neuhauser Millinery. I love this bag, too, which is Olga Berg.
“We are off to Wimbledon at the weekend, so it's been such a great start to the trip. I'm so excited to see the prizes!”
Ella Shire, actor from London
“I’m completely overwhelmed to have come second place. I hadn't even thought about entering but, as I didn't last year, my boyfriend and step-mum encouraged me. I am really into both fashion and horseracing and love coming to Newmarket.
“I bought my dress from Chi Chi London. I did try to find pale blue accessories but, after no luck, settled for these gold heels from Next, bag from Michael Kors and the fascinator from John Lewis.
“I had the dress slightly tailored to get the perfect fit and thought the colour was perfect for summer.
"Last year, I bought my fascinator first, which made finding a dress much harder. I’m so glad I picked my dress first this year and worked everything else around it. And I can't wait to come again next year!"
Kristie Raymond, make-up artist from Newmarket
“I can’t believe I got third place. . . All the ladies look so amazing. I’ve only entered best dressed twice: once last summer, when I made top 10, and now.
“My dress is from Boohoo and it was only £19. I went through so many dresses before I decided, then ended up picking the cheapest one. It just goes to show that it really isn’t about the price tag.
“My shoes were from Office and the bag was a fiver from New Look; I actually recycled them from last year’s outfit. The hat really makes the outfit though, and I hired that from Racing Hat Hire. It’s by Michelle Foley.
“When you’re putting together a race-day outfit, my advice is to go bold. And have an eye on the trends, too: polka dots are really big this summer. Try to put together something a bit different: that’s what I did and it got me a third place!”
Day 2: Feel Good Friday
With celebrity stylist Gok Wan as star guest and Heart FM’s Josh Lovatt on the mic, there was a genuinely feel-good vibe for the July Festival’s first Feel Good Friday.
In the Style Awards marquee, it was Most Stylish Group in the spotlight; from groups of girlfriends to whole families, all the entrants dressed to impress.
Josh – setting a trend for comedy suits, in a tropical flamingo-print number – joined the judging panel, along with the Bedford Lodge and Velvet teams. Prizes included a Tesla driving experience and hospitality at Norwich City.
MOST STYLISH GROUP: WINNER
Rebecca Russell, Maisie Brighty and Evie and Isabelle Hartley, from Downham Market
"We came today as it's my birthday! I've had such a great day with my sister and two best friends and cannot believe we’ve won all of these amazing prizes. . . I can’t wait for the spa break,” says Evie Hartley. “We loved putting our outfits together. My dress is from Missguided, my fascinator is from Jacques Vert, my shoes are from New Look and my bag is from Oasis.”
"My whole outfit was really last minute and everything I am wearing is from ASOS. It only arrived last week and I was really fortunate in that it all went together perfectly,” adds Maisie Brighty. “It's good to see that online High Street retailers like ASOS are even selling fascinators.”
“My dress only arrived last minute, too,” says Rebecca Russell. “"I got it from French Connection and it only came yesterday. Luckily a friend already had this fascinator from Jacques Vert and it matched perfectly. My shoes are actually from Primark and they are so comfy. I will definitely wear them again."
"My dress came from ASOS, my shoes are from Public Desire, my fascinator is also from Jacques Vert and my bag is from Parfois - a brand which is really similar to Zara,” adds Isabelle, Evie’s sister. “It’s been a brilliant day.”
Kyle Cunningham, Daniel Bhatti and Max O’Dell from Bedford
“We come to the July Festival every year, pretty much,” says Kyle, a student. “When we got here, we weren’t planning to enter best dressed at all – but someone stopped us and said we should get our picture taken, so we did it, just for a laugh.”
“It’s brilliant that we’ve got second place,” says Max, a sports management grad. “We’re football fans and, after England being knocked out in the semis, we needed cheering up!”
“My suit’s H&M and my tie and pocket square are Clements & Church,” adds Kyle. “We all really like the brand: I’m Clements & Church all the way,” says Daniel, who runs his own business. “It’s been a great day and to win these prizes – especially the Moët! – is an added bonus.”
The Godden/Colella family, from March
“We all work together – in the family business, Goddens Carpets – and we’ve been talking about our outfits all week; in fact we’ve got hardly any work done at all,” laughs Jess Colella, wife of Nils and mum to Enzo, 9, and Vittorio, 7.
“We come every year,” adds her dad Michael Godden, husband to Angela, “and when Jess saw there was a competition for best dressed group this year, we thought it was an idea to enter.”
“We couldn’t be more stunned – and pleased – to get a place,” continues Kelly, wife of Jess’s brother Aaron. “Our outfits are a real mixture of High Street with a few designer pieces; I have a thing for shoes and these are Louboutin.”
“We’re wearing waistcoats because of Gareth Southgate,” adds Enzo. “It’s really cool that we’ve come third.”
Day 3: Darley July Cup Day
Patrick Grant, Savile Row tailor and star of the BBC’s Great British Sewing Bee, chaired the judges for the final Style Awards category of the festival: Best Dressed Couple.
With strong tailoring, colour co-ordination and some stand-out accessories on show, this year’s entrants raised the sartorial bar.
The Velvet and Bedford Lodge teams completed the Style Awards panel, and prizes ranged from John Lewis garden furniture to a hot air balloon ride.
BEST DRESSED COUPLE: WINNER
Jo and John Abbott from Bristol
“I’m completely overwhelmed. I never thought we’d win,” says Jo. “We’re both 50 this year and I’ve just got over breast cancer, so we’re having a year of fun – that’s why we decided to enter best dressed, just for fun.”
“We come to this meeting every year; we make a weekend of it,” adds John. “The outfits actually started with my jacket and waistcoat. I got them in Zara and we thought the red, white and blue would make a nice theme.”
“Because his jacket’s such a statement, I’d planned to keep mine really simple with the plain navy dress from ASOS,” continues Jo. “But John’s friend at work is neighbours with a milliner, the designer Carrie Jenkinson, and they said they were sure she’d lend me a hat. . . And that’s how I came by this amazing, feathery headpiece: I just love it!”
“We’re chuffed to bits to win,” adds John. “It’s definitely a day we’re going to remember.”
Warner and Karen Stephens from Northampton
“We always get dressed up for the races, but we’ve never entered the competition before, so this is a complete shock,” says Karen, who runs a boutique in Buckingham. “We’d bought tickets for the Moet experience and, while we were having a glass of Champagne, someone said we should get our picture taken.
“I’d planned to wear all navy but changed my mind at the very last minute; I just fell in love with this Ted Baker dress! I managed to get the hat online and the colours match perfectly. The jewellery is Chanel – I collect it.”
“My suit is by Soho tailor Mark Powell,” says Warner, who works in the film industry. “I just really like his tailoring; I’ve actually just ordered five of his suits! To enter for the first time and win is brilliant – we’ll be entering again next time. . .”
Louise Wong and Nick Linsey of Red Lodge
“We’ve been entering best dressed for five years now, and it really started because Lou loves hats: in fact I bought her an online millinery course, which is where she made the halo she’s wearing today,” says Nick, who works for Cambridge University Press
“It’s really lovely to make the shortlist, even nicer to be placed,” says sales and marketing exec Louise, who’s won the competition with Nick in the past. “This is actually the dress I’m going to wear when we have our registry wedding. The main event is taking place abroad and I thought this dress was perfect for the registry office; it’s been great to get an extra wear out of it! It’s by Outline, the bag is ASOS and the shoes are Kurt Geiger.”
“I’m in ASOS, Top Man and Moss Bros and my shoes are Kurt Geiger too,” adds Nick. “The gold theme was set by Lou’s halo and dress, so I chose my accessories to pick up on that.”
Bridgette Ellwood, make-up artist and hair stylist to the stars, welcomed racegoers to her pop-up parlour across all three days of the festival. Known for creating the looks for the Strictly tour, getting the Loose Women camera-ready and making up the cast of EastEnders, Bridgette was offering everything from lippy and lash touch-ups to up-dos and full makeovers.
She also launched her new Pout service at the event: wanting to give every woman the chance to have star treatment, she’s now offering makeover and photo sessions at her Duxford salon. “It’s about being the best you can be – and feeling the best you can feel,” adds Bridgette.
If you want to be a hair and make-up artist – and even become a member of the Pout team - Bridgette is now taking students at her training academy. To find out more, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 07766 881532.
Bridgette Ellwood Hair, Make-up & Beauty Lounge is at St Peter's Street, Duxford, CB22 4RP. See bridgetteellwood.com for more.