Fashion designer Selina Blow says wear it with confidence for Ladies' Day
Fabulous outfits will be on display at The Festival today for Ladies' Day when women from all over the country and the Emerald Isle will be wearing their finery in the hope of being named Best Dressed Lady.
Despite the minus one chill factor blowing a gale around Cheltenham racecourse, for one day the sea of Guinness hats and tweed jackets will be broken up by statement hats, glamorous dresses in a myriad colours and designer sky-high heels.
Entry into the Fashion Awards is open to all ladies who attend the races tomorrow with categories including The Best Dressed Lady, The Lady with the Best Hat and The Lady with the Best Accessories.
It's worth putting together a showstopping ensemble as prizes for the winners include £1,000 gift vouchers to spend at Moloh, which has a boutique in Tetbury, a bespoke handmade sheepskin cape from Dlux Fashion, £1,000 gift vouchers to spend at the award-winning Stuart Holmes Hair & Beauty Spa in Cheltenham and a handmade hat created by milliner Denise Innes.
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This year the judging panel includes Adam Henson's partner Charlie Gilbert, celebrity hair stylist Stuart Holmes and fashion designer Selina Blow, who lives near Painswick.
It is the first time Selina has been called on to judge the awards and she says she will be homing in on anyone who wears their clothes with confidence.
Selina, sister of Detmar and Amaury Blow and sister-in-law to the late Isabella Blow, has been a highly-regarded designer for 20 years.
Her clothes for men and women are colourful, timeless, sharp and rich in heritage, inspired by the British textile industry and her Sri Lankan background – her mother's country of birth – as well as her cutting-edge Seventies wardrobe which was filled by designs by the likes of Ossie Clark. Selina is about to unveil her new spring-summer collection later this month, which has all been made in England, and features vibrant colours such as lime and fuchsia.
She will be wearing one of her designs to The Festival along with a hat by London milliner and her close friend, Philip Treacy.
"The wind can blow straight through the racecourse so I'll be wearing something warm," she laughs.
"My advice would be to wear something you feel good in and comfortable in and don't worry about matching the shoes.
"You can get great shoes from a retro vintage shop or Oxfam, you don't have to be colour co-ordinated top to toe."
Selina remembers going to Cheltenham races as a young girl when it was considered a "posh day out" for the family and has been taking a keener interest in racing life lately as her 14-year-old son Gus is an up-an-coming amateur jockey.
"He's pretty serious on that front and I've been to lots of races with him," she says.
"I think it's great to have a fun day out with amazing races and everyone enjoying themselves."
When it comes to putting together a dream dinner party table, Selina is one of those people you'd love to have at the head of yours.
Talented, inspirational and a down-to-earth working mother-of-two, Selina has led a fascinating life growing up at the family home, Hilles House, which was built in the Arts and Crafts style by her grandfather.
She has lived in New York and shared a house with Philip Treacy and Alexander McQueen when she first started out in fashion in her 20s.
There is an exhibition of her work at the V&A and at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and her celebrity client list includes actresses Angelica Huston and Tracey Ullman who favour her strong androgynous look.
"My main interest has always been textiles," Selina explains. "My mother was Sri Lankan and my father was English so I had a mixed bag of influences to start from.
"Fashion to me is craftsmanship – beautiful tailoring – that's what my main interest is."
Selina splits her time between London and Gloucestershire and reveals that one of her pet hates is clothes being saved for best.
"I'm not into fashion fads. I make beautiful pieces that have been handmade and I want people to enjoy them," she says. "I can't stand the thought of occasion wear and that you should only wear something for a wedding. I want people to wear my clothes very much every day, as part of life."
Gates open at 10.30am today for Ladies' Day. To enter the awards, visit the Fashion Zone area near the parade ring to fill out an entry form and have a photo taken. For more information, visit www.cheltenham.co.uk