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Page last updated at 19:03 GMT, Friday, 11 June 2010 20:03 UK
Enjoy Royal Ascot

by Jenny Minard
BBC Berkshire Reporter

Hats on stands
Ilda Di Vico makes couture hats for ladies at Royal Ascot

Along with the racing, Royal Ascot is all about the hats.

Couture milliner Ilda Di Vico is at her busiest time of the year making hats for ladies for the event.

"People have been putting in orders for Royal Ascot since February," she says.

"Obviously with the change in the weather people have not decided what they are going to wear.

"One minute it's cold, then it's rainy, then it's sunny.

"No-one really knows what they are wearing until nearer the time, so the last week has been absolutely crazy.

"In the whole of June I don't shut up until midnight. I don't close early because I know people can't make decisions so tightly, so I know to expect that.

"I've been here working twenty-hour days for the last two weeks."

Ilda, who owns the boutique in London Road, Sunningdale, moved to Ascot 12 years ago.

Naturally creative

Ilda Di Vico
Ilda works twenty hour days to ensure all her clients are catered for

She decided to set up her own business a few years ago.

"I attended the races every year and used to go shopping for hats to find matching outfits.

"I never found anything I was happy with perfectly and I ended up doing a little myself. I studied as a hairdresser and was naturally creative.

"I used to play around with bits to match my outfits and used to get picked up by the press. A lot of people used to ask where I got my hats from.

"So that's when I went to London, did the milliners course and opened the boutique."

Ilda says her work comes naturally to her. "I just sit at my work bench with all my fabrics and play with them," she says.

"A lot of my clients come in with their outfits and I create the hats around them."

Ilda Di Vico
The boutique is situated in London Road, Sunningdale

Happy customer

One such lady is Linda Fish, along with her husband she owns racehorses, Indian Days and Ice Viking.

She will be attending the five days of Royal Ascot from Tuesday, 15 June until Saturday, 20 June.

In terms of the hats she said bigger isn't always better. "I know I'm going smaller this year. With a big hat, I've discovered I'm in the way and people can't bear to look beyond the hat," she says.

"I'm looking forward to a win," she says. "And nice weather at the weekend."

In terms of trends, Ilda says that traditional hats are no longer the way forward,.

"I don't make the traditional hat with the crown and the brim - I personally think that's a bit old fashioned now.

"I started bringing out the hair piece which is more of a substantial fascinator - a piece rather than a hat - but not small like a normal fascinator. People are demanding those and those only."

And of course she says that hats are important at the event.

"That's what the events are for, it's a hat event," she says. "Royal Ascot might be about the horses and the show, but for the fashion, it's a hat event.

Ilda's top tips

"I would give people the advice that the plainer the outfit, the crazier the hat," she laughs.

"The best tip is to wear a substantial size that is most flattering to a person. That would be shoulder width if you want to look streamline.

"If you get anything smaller it's very unflattering. I think when people wear hats - if you don't look beautiful or feel beautiful when you look at yourself, I don't see the point in wearing one.

"The hats are designed to be placed on the right hand side of your head. If you have a left side parting in your hair then obviously when I dress the hat it would look a lot better if it was on the right hand side.

"If you have parting on the left then obviously the hat should sit on the left so the hair flows better."

And even though Ilda will be attending the event all week (apart from the Wednesday) she will still be working.

"I'm still going to be open until about midnight because obviously the week during Ascot is even as busy as the week before.

"There are the unplanned invitations and weather changes. People still come in crazy times but late night times will be by appointment."

But it won't be all work and no play for Ilda.

"My favourite part is the buzz of the fashion, looking at everybody, all the ladies, and how they've made the effort.

"It's lovely to see people make the effort and wearing something they would not wear on a daily basis - we're trying to get hats back out there and it's lovely to go to these events where we can wear them."

BBC Radio Berkshire will be covering the event all week from Tuesday, 15 June until Saturday, 19 June.


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