Leaving Cert student Tiffany (18) is Very Best Dressed at Dublin Horse Show

The No7 bus pulled up and a passenger in a full-length dress of sea-green sequins and with a fascinator perched on her head elegantly disembarked. Hardly a head turned, given the day that was in it.

adies’ Day at the Dublin Horse Show was back. However, a few alterations have been made as the new Very Best Dressed award is open to all, no matter the gender.

This inspired a dazzling and exotic display of colour and style, chatter and spirit that enveloped the grounds of the RDS, just like the old days, only better. 

The positivity rippled across the venue. Even renowned designer Don O’Neill – who has produced outfits for Beyoncé and Oprah Winfrey – was mucking in, obligingly wiping the rain off the seats for those who wanted to sit and watch the judging.

He was “blown away” by the style. The Kerry man said he was particularly impressed by the atmosphere of solidarity among the contestants.

The Ascot scene in the movie My Fair Lady was the inspiration for Tiffany Fei (18), from Dalkey, Co Dublin, who walked away with the Very Best Dressed title at her first ever Dublin Horse Show, outshining nearly 400 other contestants.

She had brought her boyfriend, Joey, who also entered the competition – but it was Ms Fei who landed the €10,000 prize of a Very gift card.

Currently awaiting her Leaving Cert results and hoping to study economics at Trinity College, Ms Fei said she wanted to put together an outfit that would make people smile.

Her picturesque blush-pink tulle full-length dress was originally intended for her debs, but she instead chose to upcycle the dress for the Horse Show with a scattering of silk flowers, teamed with a floral hat she made herself.

A Highly Commended award for a vintage, timeless suit of hot-pink wool went to Mary O’Halloran (66), from Finglas, Dublin.

Diagnosed with motor neurone disease last year, she is a retired civil servant and says she finds “dressing up and putting on the make-up to be the best medicine”, adding: “It’s too easy to retreat at home.”

Irish Independent fashion editor Bairbre Power, who was on the judging panel, said Ms O’Halloran’s vintage style was “inspirational”. 


Six-year-old Matthew Tolan dressed as a super mario dinosaur with mother Rita Kirwan, from Sandymount, Dublin at the Horse Show. Photo: Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos

There was still more style in the show rings, with Suzanne O’Brien, from Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co Clare, a vision of timeless style in the Side Saddle contest, winning first prize with her horse, Harry.

She said she felt it was very important to keep the event alive, adding that it had suffered a decline in recent years but is now seeing an upsurge in popularity among young girls.  

The rules for the contest are very precise and date back to Elizabethan times. Riding habits can be navy, with black more appropriate for married women; the last button of the waistcoat must be left unbuttoned. The veiled black silk top hats are vintage and the number of plaits on a horse’s mane are specific.

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