Stylist, photographer and fashion blogger Kia Dirkson and fashion enthusiast Michael Stanton. Photo / Supplied
Fashion lovers can look forward to a Wellington Cup Day without the constraints of trends, thanks to Covid-19.
For horse racing enthusiasts, Wellington Cup Day is a highlight on the summer calendar. Many across the capital flock to Trentham racing grounds to place bets on their “lucky” horse.
And for others, it’s an opportunity take their newest and brightest threads out for a trot.
Often a reflection of international and nationwide trends, Fashion in the Field is normally a showcase of what’s popular in the world of high-end fashion.
But 2021 will be a year unlike any other, with Covid-19 putting a handbrake on the sewing wheel over the past twelve months.
Wellington Racing Club Fashion Ambassador and 2021 Judge Stephanie Murray, said for the first time people would be entering with a clean slate, switching from Pinterest to their imagination.
“Normally we get to January and Wellington Cup Day and we think ‘okay well the trends that have emerged are X, Y and Z’, but in actual fact there hasn’t been many trends that have emerged at all this time.
“It’s great because it allows people to do what they want and are comfortable with and they can just experiment a little bit.”
However, she said race days have a strong culture and staple of their own, and people can still expect the classic hair, heels and hems.
“Definitely what remains year in and year out is classic racewear. We always have a classic lady and a contemporary lady category.”
“In terms of the classic, we’re always looking for the same thing. So a spin on classic racewear like a conservative hemline and a little bit more covered up and a little bit more conservative than say a contemporary contender.
“Just that classic look that’s always been round for decades.”
Michael Stanton, a Christchurch fashion enthusiast and 2021 judge, said he expects to see the Wellington culture to be sewn into many of Saturday’s outfits.
“Relative to Christchurch, Wellington is far less conservative.”
“Certainly from past events in Wellington particularly in the menswear space, they’re quite innovative, very creative and perhaps something we don’t see as often.”
Touching on his own experience, Stanton said the races offer men an opportunity to really experiment with what they put on both their backs, and heads.
“If I think back a couple of years ago when I wore a headpiece to Addington raceway, I wore it because I wanted to show that you can actually draw on something that might have been perceived as being feminine.”
“I wanted to show that men can start to wear things that are more adventurous and still look masculine.”
Unlike those who held the paddles down in the Garden City, Stephanie Murray says those who push the boundaries on the Wellington field will be well received.
“I think there’s diversity in Wellington in terms of it as a fashion place. We are more diverse and we just do what we want to do, we don’t sort of follow anyone’s rules.
“As Wellingtonians we dress how we want and if we want to push the boundaries, we do.”
“I loved what Michael did at Addington with the headpiece. It pushed the boundaries and the judges at the time didn’t place him or put him in the final.”
However, Marketing Director Lucy Doig said the day is as much about the social aspect, as it is about the threads and horses.
“Some punters come onto the course and they won’t even see a race all day, they’re here to have a great day out with their friends, have bubbles, meet new people.
“It’s going to be a party. If you like having fun, if you like going out with your friends, if you like dressing up, there is no better place to be than Trentham racecourse on Cup Day.”
Stanton says that although 2020 has offered a clean slate, he still expects big lapels and a fresh take on the infamous navy blazer and cream chinos.
“We’re starting to see more of is the brighter colours rather than the conservative navy you see a lot of men wearing.”
“I particularly like the sky blue. I personally wear a lot of double-breasted suits and we’re starting to see a lot more of that in the men’s space.
“I’d expect to see some sharp double-breasted suits at the races this year for sure, and colour.”
Lower Hutt Mayor and President of the Wellington Racing Club Wayne Guppy said there isn’t any other event on the Wellington calendar that can compare to Cup Day.
“It’s New Zealand’s toughest two-mile race to win,” he said.
“But if you aren’t into horseracing then it’s Wellington’s biggest party. There will be music, lots of fine food to enjoy and just a great place to be with friends.”
“It’s important for the horseracing industry to have these big events, but at the same time it’s important for Wellington too, especially now that we don’t have the sevens here anymore.”
He said for many Fashion in the Field is one of the biggest drawcards.
“It’s an important part of the day’s atmosphere. It’s important for both men and woman and for many who don’t even enter and who just love watching.
“It’s a time when everyone, young or old, can put on their best clothes and go out and have a good day.”
Stephanie Murray said she looks forward to seeing familiar and new faces throughout the day.
“We like to keep it as relaxed as possible. Professional, but relaxed at the same time and very open and welcoming.”
“We want newcomers to come along and give it a go. We want people to feel confident, put their best foot forward, feeling good about themselves and enjoy it.”
Stanton said for anyone panicking with just a day to go, bringing out dusty friends can be just the answer.
“If it’s worked before it will work again. I guarantee there are things in your wardrobe that you’ll look fabulous in that you’ve perhaps overlooked.”
“If you achieve that level confidence then it makes you feel great, and you’ll look great.”
Gates at the Trentham Race Course will open at 10:30 on Saturday morning, with the first race and Fashion in the Field just after midday.
Police are urging all cup attendees to behave responsibly, and organise a ride home if needed.