The big winners of the Meydan Style Stakes on Saturday afternoon looked pretty in pink as their outfits matched unexpectedly.
Ana Pribylova, named Best Dressed Lady (she won Best Hat last year), wore a floral pink dress from Chi Chi London and a matching headpiece of her own creation, while Nader Tearab, named Best Dressed Man for the second year in a row, donned a self-made peach pink suit, complemented by a floral tie and mint green accents.
“In Dubai, March is spring and spring has its own colour; peach is a spring colour. I wanted to look like a garden,” said Tearab, holding onto a royal blue umbrella with a striking golden handle.
Tearab and Pribylova were amongst dozens who participated in the annual fashion contest at the world’s richest race, the Dubai World Cup, at Meydan Racecourse. They were unfazed by the fact that the competition had to be moved indoors due to unpredictable weather. Their prizes included vouchers from Top Shop, Top Man, HTC smart phones and hotel stays.
The contest was judged by Australian designer Dom Bagnato, fashion editor of Esquire Middle East Daniel Higgins, celebrity stylist Kelly Lundberg, Vogue Arabia contributer Saufeeya Goodson, and group fashion and beauty director with OK! Middle East and Cosmopolitan Middle East, Lucy Wildman.
Pribylova, who was the last winner to be announced, was shocked by her win, while Tearab became tearful during post-contest interviews.
The fashion designer from Sudan has been living in Dubai for ten years and is in the process of building his own brand, Tearab Suits. He said he was happy that his hard work had been rewarded.
“[The outfit] took me forever. 90 per cent is your brain. Only one per cent is making the suit. At times I couldn’t sleep thinking what to make this year,” he said.
Pribylova, a 32-year-old milliner, said she was up the night before the competition and this morning of creating her headpiece.
“I had so many orders to finish so I left mine until the end,” she said. The sleek, winding piece was inspired by a weekend visit to the aquarium where she saw beautiful long-tailed fish.
Fashion designer Erina Kuznetsva, 28, from Russia, living in Dubai for two years, was the runner-up for Best Dressed Lady. She made her champagne-coloured dress by hand over the course of three days, and said she wanted to look elegant and classy in the feathery pink number.
When it came to well-dressed pairs, Dubai-based Kim Lenssens, 36, from Belgium and wife Mercedes Alfonso Murillo, 36, from Spain walked away with Best Dressed Couple. The pair, married for four years, wore understated outfits made up primarily of a rich burgundy-purple colour.
“I designed it myself. It’s Spanish-inspired because I’m from Spain. The sleeves are inspired by Flamenco dresses,” said Murillo.
Lenssens, a pilot with Emirates Airlines, said he left the creative choices to his wife.
“The suit I already owned, the waist coast was designed by her, with details that match her dress. She’s a fashion blogger and she knows what colours are trendy now,” he said.
Most Creative Hat went to a floral black, green and red creation — completed by a butterfly — created by Oksana Mclaren, a 36-year-old cosmetologist from the Ukraine. Mclaren has been living in the UAE for more than 10 years.
“The inspiration is Dubai. Although we live in the desert, we have so much greenery surrounding us. So many gardens,” she said.
She made the hat out of fabric, leather, feathers, beads, wood and aluminium wires.
“It reminds me of Dubai because Dubai for me is blossoming every year with new ideas, new projects, new people,” she said.
Elis Crewes, based in Australia, won Best Hat with a regal headpiece made of curving golden feathers and eye-catching crystals. The headpiece, which she described as something an emperor might wear, was made by Luke Song Millinery in America. Crewes matched it with a sleek red gown and gold detailing.
“I didn’t expect to win. I enjoy dress-up. It’s more about having fun, because life is too short and we don’t get to go to a wedding and a party every day,” said Crewes, who has been attending races around the world since 2001.
Rules of the Meydan Style Stakes stipulated that participants must wear hats and fascinators at all times, dresses and tops must have two straps that are at least one inch wide, hemlines must fall no higher than just above the knee, sunglasses must not be worn on stage, and casual wear is not permitted.
The contest was formerly known as Jaguar Style Stakes.