Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Dedicated follower of fashion

NOW I’m no fashion guru. You can write what I know about Sir Paul Smith’s latest creations on a pin head.
And as someone who used to wear dessert boots, bell bottoms and an ankle-length leather trench coat, I’m probably the last person on the planet to criticise anyone.
But Royal Ascot? You tell me, what is all that about?
I must admit, I never did get Mrs Gertrude “Ascot hats” Shilling. But at least she was a character.
She was a colourful, eccentric who “amused” racegoers for years with the extravagant confections she perched on her head. (A giant daisy, a dartboard, a 6ft-high giraffe and teacup were some of her more sober creations born in collaboration with son David).
At Royal Ascot, the horse racing is only half the fun. The best bit is watching the ladies trying to outdo each other in the "fashion" stakes. It reached a new high - or is it a new low? - this year.
Once upon a time, a bare-legged lady or a gentleman without a hat would have caused consternation at Royal Ascot. Today the strict rules have been relaxed - you can now chat on mobile phones and even, god forbid, chew gum.
But to gain entry to the hallowed Royal enclosure - where divorcées were once barred from attending - racegoers must be recommended by someone who is already on the list.
Men are required to wear morning suit, national dress or uniform - brown shoes are banned, and top hats are still the order of the day. Although an estimated £100m is gambled during the event, there are no bookies in the Royal Enclosure. Convicted criminals and undischarged bankrupts remain barred from the inner sanctum.
It’s not quite so bad at the equally-snobby, strawberry-mountain, champagne-guzzling Wimbledon. But there has again been more attention being paid to what the likes of the Williams sisters and the lovely, leggy Miss Sharapova are wearing on court than how their backhand is working.
Serena W certainly double faulted when she appeared wearing a white trench coat over her tennis dress. While Miss Sharapova’s “tuxedo look” inspired by menswear certainly had the paparazzi in a lather.
She sported a cream jacket and long trousers...... before stripping down to play.
And now she's out. For once, I'm speechless.

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