As we gear up for the highly-anticipated Cup Week, we sat down with Zane Tate, the recently appointed Fashion Coordinator at Riccarton Park Racecourse. Zane's enthusiasm for style is joyfully infectious, and with his help, we've compiled the must-have knowledge to ensure you're primed for an extraordinary cup week, whether you're attending, or entering this year's fashion in the field.
As the newly appointed Fashion Coordinator at Riccarton Park, what significance does this role hold for you? How do you plan to infuse your unique touch into it?
I’ve been going to the races since I was 18 years old when I moved to Christchurch, so it’s always been a big part of my life and I have always loved the fashion aspect, both the men’s and women’s fashion has always been a highlight of the races for me. Being able to be part of the next chapter at Riccarton is really exciting, and there is a lot of change happening.
Our primary source of inspiration usually stems from the Melbourne Cup. What transpires in Melbourne often sets the tone for New Zealand. For instance, they've embraced gender neutrality with categories like 'Best Dressed' and 'Best Suited,' and some of these changes are beginning to influence the New Zealand scene, as well as loosening up some of the traditional racing rules. As new people are coming into the industry and trends are evolving we are seeing a lot more Avant-garde at the races which is really incredible.
The biggest changes I am making as far as the event goes this year is we have added a whole GA (general admission) area to the fashion lawn, so it is not just ticketed table seating anymore. The GA area has a lot more seating, a big public bar, music and food, so that’s going to bring a new atmosphere into the Tea House Lawn which is going to be really great on both the 15th and 18th of November.
What are some basic tips for beginners when dressing for the spring races?
The key to spring racing fashion is lighter, more spring and summer related materials. So it’s a lot of cotton, plenty of bold colour and prints. The day is about fun and exuberance, so the shoes should also reflect that and that’s where some of the Kat Maconies are going to work really well with a multitude of raceway looks, whether it be dresses or suited. Some of the pointed slingbacks with a cute suit is still going to give you that summer vibe.
You mentioned suits, tell us more!
Yes definitely, we are seeing more and more suits on women at the races. Beautiful pastel tones, florals and brights, linens and cottons and lighter materials as opposed to men's suiting which tends to be wool no matter the season.
Are you thinking pantsuit, skirt suit or both?
Both are appropriate. The pant suit is a more modern take for women than the skirt.
What do you think stands out and is suitable in terms of shoes on race day?
A sling back with the chunkier heel is suitable because there are times when you’re walking on grass at the races, it’s not all concrete. Bows, flower details and pastel tones are nice for the spring races too.
And what about shoes for the guys?
For the men, a classic tan leather looks really good. It gives it a more relaxed and daytime vibe than a black leather or patent. It is a daytime event so you want it to be daytime appropriate. The deeper chocolates, and loafers, are classic and will work with a mix of different suiting, whether it be wool or linen, it is going to look really good on a man.
What are some of the rules - what are the do’s and don’ts?
One of the big things is having season appropriate fabrics and materials and that extends to your entire outfit and type of shoes you would wear, for example you wouldn’t be wearing velvets and heavier boots. Lighter materials, peep toes, sling backs and things like that work really well, the dresses are linens, cottons and silks. Avoid heavier fabrics like wool, tweed, velvet, and the same goes for millinery.
Day time racing looks different to a night time clubbing look. So dresses should hit just below the knee, things like cut-outs and midriffs showing is not appropriate for entering fashion in the field. Think classic racing fashion. There is a contemporary section where some of those rules can be broken but you still need to be wearing seasonal materials. A piece of millinery is a must, you can’t enter without one.
What are your expectations and what will you be searching for?
I like to see how people interpret current trends in their own way, in their own sense of style, on the runway and at the races. I like to see a sense of fun and exuberance in people's outfits.
And what does fashion mean to you personally? You express yourself so well with fashion, what is at the core of that?
It’s a form of self expression, I get a lot of confidence from the way I dress and the way I present myself. A good outfit can really change your outlook on life. It’s the way I connect with other people which is really important to me.
We are so grateful for the insight from Zane and loved to see his top shoe picks!