Creative mum who made her own headpiece wins top prize at Leopardstown Races

It was fashion-forward art teacher Paula Gannon who won in the style stakes on the third day of the Leopardstown Races today in the Savills Style Awards.

The Roscommon mum-of-two designs headpieces during the school holidays, with her own creation ensuring she was crowned most stylish lady among racegoers today.

With judges keeping an eye out for Irish design on the day, Paula ticked all the boxes in a purple Vivienne O’Connor two-piece outfit, complimented by jewellery from Katie Mullally – a gift from Paula’s husband, Seamus.

She said they were looking forward to enjoying her winnings together, which included an over-night stay in Shelbourne Hotel and a year’s supply of hair-dressing at Peter Marks.

It wasn’t Paula’s first win when it came to her chic wardrobe, scooping best-dressed lady at Kilbeggan twice before.

“It’s my first win here in Leopardstown so I am very excited. I have won a couple before and I am just so excited. I design head-pieces part-time, I’m an art teacher. This is one of my designs and I am wearing Vivienne O’Connor, an Irish designer,” she said.

“It is nice to be able to win in Irish and I am so chuffed to win here today because the style is amazing and the prize from Savills is just outstanding – so really looking forward to our overnight in the Shelbourne.”

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She explained she had decided on her outfit last month, going for a mix of designer and high-street pieces, her camel coat something she picked up in Zara.  

“My earrings were a gift from my husband,” she added.

While she doesn’t make hats very often other than for a few local weddings, she said there was nowhere better to display her work than at a racing meet such as Leopardstown.

“The best place to showcase them is the races. I’m an art teacher Monday to Friday, September to June and then during the summer I do a few pieces – I don’t work a lot but I do bits and pieces,” she said.

“It’s really just me and my sisters.”

It was also important to the Athlone woman to wear Irish brands at the races – racing is a tradition she considers “fabulously” Irish. 

“Irish love to support Irish and this is a wonderful place to be able to do it,” she said.

Meanwhile, it was PJ McCague, from Co Monaghan, who walked away with the men’s title. Unlike Paula, his win was a first – and completely accidental.

“I never even came with the intention of entering it – I am here babysitting my grandson and I was made tidy myself up before I came and this is what happened. I’ll take it,” he said.

The Clones man looked dapper in a tweed suit with blue shirt and orange tie and matching handkerchief.

“It’s a McGee suit and I have it a long time, it never fails – that’s why you should invest in McGee,” he added.

The third day of the festival was attended by 15,559 racing fans with another great day for bookmakers, with over 1mil wagered again today.

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