Hats to turn Heads on Raceday

Auckland milliner Natalie Chan picks her favourite millinery looks and shares the secret of how a winning hat is created


If you’re off to the races, celebrating the Melbourne Cup at a champagne bar or planning your guest outfit for a summer wedding, set off your style with a stunning hat. This season pastel shades are to the fore in simple shapes that are easy to wear. Boaters are still big news and make for a versatile buy that that you can trot out on many occasions, from the polo to a flash picnic.    

Race day Fashion in the Fields competitors tend to go all out, choosing statement pieces. Larger picture hats are a standout and so too the percher hat, a more vertical look which sits forward on the face, with a frame behind holding it up and allowing the wearer to show off as smart updo.

The ladylike looks championed by the Duchess of Cambridge have definitely inspired millinery fashions, says Auckland designer Natalie Chan who has just launched her seasonal collection, Savoir Faire. This is strong on soft colours such as blush and vanilla and the return of classic navy which she describes as “the new black.” For the extrovert hat wearer, red is her bold choice.

In Melbourne pre-Cup, we noticed the same strong trend to pastels, alongside jewel tones, yellow, and larger hats. Feather trims and quills were less in evidence than in previous years, while veils dressed up some hats.

Natalie says her bespoke customers who travel to the races, tend to be the most adventurous, but for those not used to wearing a hat a boater is a good safe choice. A smaller percher is  also great for special occasions.

To make a simple boater special, Natalie adorns it with smart grosgrain ribbon and handmade leather flowers. Her leather headbands are a casual but striking option for those who want to nod at hat-wearing without committing.

WATCH: Natalie Chan Make a Hat:

  • Janetta Mackay, Viva's beauty editor and resident hat fan, will be at the Melbourne Cup and, the following week, will help judge the fashions at New Zealand Cup in Christchurch.
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New Zealand Herald

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