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A Beginner’s guide to Fashions on the Field

When making a hat for a Fashion comp novice I often get asked for help with all the Ins and Outs of Racing Fashion. It can be tricky for newbies to envision a complete look so I actually have a good selection of clutches and jewellery in the studio to help with the direction of styling an outfit.

How do you choose and accessorize an outfit …what’s appropriate summer for winter, etc. Fashions on the Field has a number of ‘rules’ which you can follow (or ignore) to your hearts content.

Here is a short breakdown of points many of the successful sash ladies follow:

SUMMER: light fabrics , fresh and summery colour palette, millinery in straw or sinamay, light fabric, leather. Skirt or dress length should not be too short, not completely shoulder free ( one shoulder or off shoulder has been quite popular of late), shoes can be open toed, mini handbag or clutch. Jewellery to complete and complement the outfit. Remember that a race day outfit is for a day event, not a night out clubbing or frolocking in your favourite holiday beachside bar.

Dress for the day and conditions…this means be prepared as much as possible to adapt the outfit in case the weather turns and it’s suddenly very cold or you are dealing with torrential rain. The nicest outfit doesn’t look good if you are shivering with cold or your open sandals are giving you a foot spa.


Anna Campbell and Johanna Neuhauser


Talia Marshall


Talia Marshall


Ascot Dress code


Lisa Tan at Ascot


Elizabeth Charleston


Claudia, Anna and Eleanor Campbell



Claudia Campbell – winner of under 25 at Ellerslie Boxing Day Races 2017


Eleanor Campbell


WINTER: heavier fabrics, slightly darker colour palette,  millinery in felt, heavier fabrics, leather. Skirt or dress length never too short – pants or a pantsuit / jumpsuit would also be a great choice. Long sleeves, jacket or cover up as needed for the temperatures. Usually closed toe shoes. Mini handbag or clutch. Gloves and Jewellery to complete and complement the outfit. Again – dress for the day and conditions. Sometimes a pretty umbrella that goes with your outfit can make a great accessory on a rainy day.



Eleanor Campbell


Anna and Eleanor Campbell


Milano Imai


Elizabeth Charleston

winter3Hennesey gold cup

Hennesey Gold Cup



Milano Imai and Eleanor Campbell

The fashion savvy will also make sure that hair and makeup are on point and fashion trends are taken into consideration.
If you are on Pinterest you can have a look at my boards for A Day at the Races or Winter Racing for some inspiration . You can also search #tags  such as #racingfashion, #fashionsonthefield or #fotf on Instagram .

Hope this helps, remember to first and foremost have fun dressing up and a glamorous day out.

Monika x


Duet in Millinery

It’s about time I talk a bit about one of my very special clients – Anna Campbell. I can’t quite remember when exactly I made her first headpiece…a hot pink and orange combo which she wore at Te Rapa Races and I think she won the Fashions on the Field…or was top memory fails me, it must be about 8 years ago or thereabouts. Anyway…we’ve been in a close relationship ever since.

When you work so closely together in a client – milliner relationship you get to know each other quite well and a friendship grows. The fact that she lives about 30 minutes from the studio makes it easy to create the hats exactly to order…size, fit, colour matching, changing around can all be done as needed.

Anna always knows what she wants. She is very particular about colours. It has to be the absolutely RIGHT shade. This in turn has taught me a lot about colour matching and dyeing various materials until you get the desired result.

On occasion I had to skype my mentor for a quickie lesson so I could actually achieve a look in a certain material.

She has a habit of leaving it to the last minute…I do call her “Last Minute Anna’ at times. When you are a loyal client like her you get away with murder 😉

Anna loves quills…or sticks as she calls them. We joke that when she dies there will be a bunch of quills on her coffin, instead of flowers 😀

Quite often there is a bit of negotiation going on….what she wants…what can be done….what I am prepared to do to keep true to my aesthetics or technique ethics (which by the way have grown quite a bit since we first started working together).



Anna has had great success on the Fashions on the Field scene throughout New Zealand and overseas, not only for herself but also her 2 beautiful daughters as well as her mother. They really are a family with a blessed gene pool.  The advantage of having family members of similar size who enjoy racing fashion is that you can swap and borrow. Hats are being teamed up with different outfits and get several outings which is also a financial advantage. Trims can and have been changed to go with another colour scheme.

Their countless successes on the race courses have subsequently given the MNM brand great exposure as well. Pictures on front pages of national print media and of course Social Media is a wide spreading vehicle.

Anna loves going to and dressing up for the races, she always makes an effort whether she is entering the fashion competitions or not..she will look polished. Ticking off race courses in NZ as well as Australia has been on her agenda. And the big one on her bucket list was of course Royal Ascot. She had a birthday come up and this was the perfect opportunity to make the trip this year to the Holy Grail of Racing and Racing fashion .

She attended 3 days – the first day in the Royal Enclosure, the other 2 days in entertainment package areas. 3 days – 3 looks.

Day one – she opted to wear ‘her daughter’s outfit’…..had the dress made for her and wore it with the cape of her daughter’s outfit as well as the hat that was made for it. Pink and Rose Gold, she looked elegant and was well dressed for the occasion, ready to drop into a curtsy should HM happen to walk past.


Day 2 – Ladies Day – This stunning Ted Baker dress got a bit of a Racing Fashion tweak courtesy of Anna’s mum, a bottom ruffle and sleeve extension was put on.



Anna has wanted to wear a ‘flower garden’ hat for a long time and that’s what we made. She loved wearing this look and got lots of compliments. And she found the perfect location for a photo opportunity.


Day 3 – Another dress that was altered by her mother…or was it 2 dresses combined to make the cape..the headpiece is a blocked fishnet plate crown with floating feathers. Another stunning outfit that got lots of attention.


This in her own words about the experience:
“It’s a wrap from Royal Ascot! 🏇 Think I did ok for a kiwi from the country!😆 thanks to my very talented and creative milliner @monika_neuhauser_millinery 🙌 Also my clever hard working mum for all the sewing etc etc..👏 And especially my lovely partner for making my big birthday trip wish come true!!😘😘 Also @cambridgeraceway and @houseoftravelnz for my perfect first prize travel vouchers from The NZ Harness Jewels. Its been the most amazing experience if you love horse racing and fashion this will be hard to beat anywhere in the world!!”

Hard to say how many hats I have made over the years…word has it the hat box collection has spilled out from the wardrobe into the hallway. It has been a lot of fun, I have learned so much due to her ‘demands’  and being so particular.
Relationships like this are precious because it keeps you on your toes, challenges the skill level …in the end it’s very satisfying for both. And her loyalty is more appreciated than she will ever know.
Looking forward to when she will be off to the Kentucky Derby 😉

Monika x



From inspiration to outfit

When Elizabeth Charleston won the Fashions on the Field at Tauranga Races in March she received a trip to the Brisbane Racing Carnival as the main prize. She was to represent Tauranga Racecourse on Oaks Day. Here she is in her Tauranga outfit:


Elizabeth Charleston – Supreme winner at Tauranga Races 2017

Very soon after her win the planning for the outfit began …looking out for inspiration and what to put together to embrace ‘classic and feminine’ as the set theme for the day.

I saw this image on Instagram  and instantly loved the look.


So did Elizabeth – and we began to look for a way to emulate the style and make it Autumn Racing appropriate.

The hat was actually the first component made. Blocked in Esparterie, covered with Dupion silk and lace and the crown wrapped with veiling.


The skirt  from Forever New has a nice weight and walks beautifully.


She had the vintage lace top as well as the strappy closed heels already in her wardrobe , sparkly black jewelry and a little handbag completed the look. Her hair was put into a rather big Donut bun upon which the hat sat at a perfect angle.


And to top the whole experience of this trip she was awarded a sash for 2nd Runner up in the competition.



I love working on a complete look in collaboration with a client ….or in this case very good friend. I was the lucky one who she took along to Brisbane and in the end share the excitement and joy of her fashion success.

So what do you think – was the inspiration successfully translated ?



Monika x

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Zoetica – Tarnished Frocks & Divas

Every 2 years a group of extremely creative and clever women age 40+ put on an amazing stage extravaganza with fashion, music and a storyline to tie it all together – in Tauranga, New Zealand.

2 years ago I had been invited to be part of the judging panel for the Open Designer section. What makes this year so very special to me is that I have been invited to design 17 hats! for a show section called: “From Head to Hoof”.

The name of the show, Zoetica, comes from “zoetic” – of or relating to life , living, vital. Together with Passion and Bravery it sets the theme of the show about women and what they do, all with an 80s vibe to it.


I said yes before spending a thought on of what I got into. And I won’t lie….it’s been a challenge to get a different perspective…away from wedding hats and race day hats, etc… stage dimensions and impact.

After making the first 2 hats and posting away for feedback…I heard nothing. Now I have come to realize they were just being polite. “How are we going to tell her?” must have been on their mind….but the creative director, Robyne Dowdall – who is a most remarkable woman with a warm and lovable/loving personality, gently stirred me in the right direction, encouraging, hinting….’more is more’….’bigger is better’….and then bigger and bolder again.
To date I have finished 6 hats…and I am getting more comfortable with the dimensions and letting all my crazy come out to play.

Here are a few glimpses – of course it’s all very hush hush till end of August and show time.

More about it all later.


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Summer Racing season 2016/2017

Another fantastic season for MNM and here are some of our amazing clients. All looking gorgeous and some winning sashes. In no particular order:


Katie O’neill Flett at Melbourne Cup Derby Day 2016


Eleanor Campbell – middle -winner at Prime Minister’s Cup Australia

te rapa

Eleanor Campbell at Te Rapa Races


Talia Marshall at Melbourne Cup Oaks Day 2016


Talia Marshall at Melbourne Cup Derby Day 2016


Shadi Salehpour at Boxing day Ellerslie Races


Katie O’neill Flett – left – Royal Randwick


Maggie Toothill here being interviewed on stage – finalist at Ellerslie Prix de fashion


Eleanor Campbell – top 10 finalist at Ellerslie Prix de Fashion 2017


Claudia Campbell – winner of under 25 at Ellerslie Boxing Day Races 2017


Johana Neuhauser – Boxing Day Races 2017


Elizabeth Charleston on the right – winner of Alexandra park Races Auckland Cup Week 2017


Claudia Campbell – winner of Contemporary lady in blue feather headpiece at Wellington 2017


Anna Campbell on the right Supreme winner andRebecca Sherie in the middle – winner of Classic lady at Taranaki Races 2017


Melbourne Cup Derby Day 2016


Elizabeth Charleston – Supreme winner at Ellerslie Boxing Day Races 2017


Elizabeth Charleston – Top 5 finalist at Prix de Fashion Ellerslie 2017


Elizabeth Charleston – Supreme winner at Tauranga Races 2017


I truly love the variety of styles I get to create for all these different looks.

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Talking Hats

End of September I had a quick trip to Melbourne to surprise my dear friend and mentor,Waltraud Reiner,  to be there for her Talking Hats show.

Waltraud was at the helm of a 4 woman design team – herself, Katrin Juchems from Germany, Queenslander Brianna Minuzzo and Tamati Aino from Japan – who put together a collection of over 30 hats as metaphors to life stages and situations.

The hats were made with a variety of materials and techniques – sometimes defying gravity, some simply breathtaking.

This was a One Night Only affair held in a gallery. I had received sneak peaks over the time of production but nothing could have prepared me for the event I was privileged to see that night.

The hats, the models, the music, the background visuals….it all was so perfectly curated and orchestrated…all I could think of after the show was that I wanted to see it again – a sentiment that was expressed by many others.

The whole process was actually filmed, including a de-brief of the design process as well as the show. This in turn allows for a documentary being put together which might be entered at a future Film Festival.

Here are some impressions.


All proceeds from the evening were donated towards a Mental Health for children project.

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Spring Fever

With the racing and wedding season well underway we are looking at what’s trending this spring/summer 2016-2017 .

After a little dying session quite a few were in the beautiful pastels reflecting the Pantone Spring 2016 colour chart.



Most of MNM millinery is made to order but I always keep a good selection of Ready to Wear pieces in the showroom. There are hats which just want to be made, customers who need something last minute and not to forget clients often want to try on different styles, shapes and sizes.

Here is a selection of pieces that reflect the trendy spring colours. Iced Coffee is such an elegant and understated colour.


I also plan to add a bit of Fiesta and Peach, as well as Buttercup and Green Flash to add some freshness.

Limpet Shell, a lovely version of a teal / aqua  tones is another favourite and a hue I have seen quite a bit in the shops overseas a few weeks ago.

Floral and lace will again be big players no doubt. It’s looking to be a very pretty season.

If you are interested in a particular piece go here



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There and back again

Time flies when you are having fun – never a truer word spoken.
I had every intention of keeping a travel blog. In the end it turned out I was far too busy having a good time than sitting behind a screen and keyboard.
The 5 1/2 weeks  were everything I hoped for: family and friends, fantastic summer weather, amazing sights and beautiful places , many I knew and many which I hadn’t been to, yummy food.

2 weeks in Vienna, 1 week in Styria, 1 week in Waldviertel right by the border , with quite a few day trips over to the Czech Republic, and 1 week in the Wachau region.

On the 1st day after our arrival in Vienna I managed to have blisters on the soles of my feet. And they more or less lingered around for the rest of the trip. Basically walking for 5 weeks took a bit of a toll on the trotters but was also a welcome antidote to the calorie intake in the many gorgeous coffeehouses. The coffee is great, the cakes and pastries are delicious and the service is impeccable. There is no lining up at the counter to place an order…you chose your seat or be seated, place your order when you are ready and make eye contact with the waiter when you want to pay and leave. The only time you might go to the counter / vitrine is to help you make the agonizing choice over which cake or pastry to have.  Apart from all that it’s of course an architectural experience and a history lesson on top.


Cafe Zentral established in 1876 -extremely popular place if you want to get a seat you either come very early or you line up ….and beware  of the portion sizes…doggy bag, anyone?



Cafe in the Museum of Art History – the interior of this whole building is breath taking


detail of the interior, painted by Klimt


The beautifully restored baroque Garden Pavilion at Melk Abbey


with it’s gorgeous tropical themed decorations


A definite highlight was a visit to Prague. Believe everything you hear about this beautiful old city. It survived the war without being bombed and has therefore an intact old town part that is just stunning, not dissimilar to Vienna with grand old buildings from Imperials times, a lot of beautiful Art Nouveau as well as much older architecture , the utterly impressive St Vitus Cathedral for example being founded in 1344.

Prague was absolutely crowded with tourists. I only had 1 day in the city, so naturally couldn’t do everything –  the Castle, which  I only saw from the outside, has to wait for the next visit.
Made it however into the Clementinum Library , which was on my to do list, and it was as beautiful as it promised in the pictures.


One of the most beautiful Cafes I have come across is the Cafe de Paris ( also the Hotel de Paris)…a simply stunning example of Art Nouveau in Prague


My slight problem with heights had to be ignored that day, the view from the Clock Tower is truly worth the lengthy wait to get up…me and possibly a few thousand others wanted to do that on the day




If you ever make it to Prague don’t forget to indulge at one of the countless Trdelnik stalls. The yeast dough pastries are wrapped around wooden barrels and cooked  over hot coals or in electric rotisserie type ovens  Make sure you get one fresh and hot…delish. My preferred version is the traditional sugar and cinnamon coated one.


Another fantastic day was biking along the Danube from Melk to  romantic  Dürnstein and making the return trip on the Danube. You bike along the river on a bike way, often set apart from the road or rather on the “old” roads. The town, with it’s landmark blue church tower,  was first mentioned in 1192 and is a gorgeous, quaint old place with the ruins of Dürnstein Castle towering over it. The place is most “famous” for having kept King Richard the Lionheart captive for ransom after returning from a crusade.
I opted not to climb up to the ruins due to temperatures in the mid 30s.


All of this is of course not even scratching the surface of those few weeks, but I simply can’t show it all. You have to take my word that everything was just wonderful, at times truly breathtaking, spectacular, interesting, beautiful, delicious, …and best of all – I got to share this with my daughter who was the perfect travel companion on this trip. And I have countless pictures of her backside to prove it.

If you are wondering what you can do in 51/2 weeks…here it goes:
Schonbrunn castle, castle grounds and zoo, St Stephens cathedral with the catacombs underneath, the Imperial Crypt, watching the morning workout of the Lipizzaner horses, City Park, Museum of Art History and Natural History, Hofburg with Imperial Apartments, Vienna Museum, House of the Sea, Vienna Secession, National Library, countless churches, Lainz Game Reserve, simply walking around the inner city in Vienna and marvelling at the buildings and architecture, Theater visit, Central Cemetery, visiting castles, visiting a flea market ( and finding a cute 1950s coffee set ) , more museums and exhibitions, visiting SlavoniceTřeboňTelč, Cesky KrumlovJindřichův Hradec, and Prague, biking trips, Danube Ship ride, several small towns along the Danube, Aggstein Castle, Melk Abbey, Graz, Deutschlandsberg Castle,  having a fantastic day on the Slovenian border sitting in a vineyard and enjoying the products of the region, going mushroom foraging, and ..and and …and a spot of shopping in between.


As far as hats go….not a whole lot. The only hatty highlight was a visit to Vienna Museum for a hat expo…no photos were allowed but was very interesting to see it from a social history point of view. I did manage to bring back 3 hat blocks that were gifted to me, here sitting on the window sill of my room with a view. They weigh about 7 kg, due to this I could not take all the chocolate I initially wanted to bring back…just as well. – the cafe visits were quite enough to deal with. #nomoreexcesscaloriesrequired



After my return mid August it took me about 10 days to get over the jetlag. But there is no rest for the wicked, hats were already waiting to be made and somehow these wonderful few weeks on the other side of the world seem to be much longer ago than they are.

It’s all memories now…wonderful ones…and I have about 1700 photos to re visit them.

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Winter break – Summer fun

Winter in New Zealand is naturally a slower time for millinery – so what better time for a few weeks in Europe.

My 5 1/2 weeks trip to Austria is only a few hours away and the excitement is growing. So many plans, so many things to see. Starting off in Vienna – down to Styria – up to the Czech border – Czech Republic / Prague – down to the Wachau Valley – back to Vienna – hopefully over to Budapest….and who knows where else.

Vienna has sooooo much to offer – I don’t think one could run out of things to explore and see, I so love this city. The perfect place to wander and getting lost in small streets amongst old buildings. My bucket list is quite long by now and who knows how many more things will be added to it.

Graz and Styria – my breeding ground  – taking my daughter there again will make me re visit lots of childhood haunts.



The Wachau Valley is one picturesque history lesson  – Melk, my daughter’s birthplace with its over 900 years old  Benedictine  Abbey,



the medieval Dürnstein Castle Ruins – the famous site of the imprisonment of the English King Richard the Lionheart ,  Aggstein Castle  with it’s breath taking views over the Danube are but a few points we will revisit this time.

Wachau Weinberg - Wachau vineyard 15

Wachau vineyard 


Aggstein Castle ruins


The valley is of course a famous wine growing region established during the medieval period of the Roman settlements  but equally well known for it’s apricots. Lucky for us we will be there in time for the harvest and we will no doubt gorge ourselves on those delicious globes. One of the most loved dishes – Marillenknödel – will be on the menu. Apricots are de stoned – a lump of sugar is placed inside and the apricot is enveloped in a potato based dough. They are then cooked in simmering water and rolled in a butter and breadcrumb mix. Sprinkle with icing sugar and devour. Heaven!


Another thing on the ‘to do’ list is mushroom foraging! One of the things I miss in New Zealand is the variety of wild mushrooms  and going out into the forest to try and find these tasty fungi is a lot of fun…especially if the weather is right for it: warm weather with recent rain…boom….


Coming home with a basket as full as this makes for a delicious meal – good knowledge of what’s edible and what’s poisonous is a must – and there are lots of very edible treasures to be found.

Walking and biking will be a big part of our mode of transport – not least to counteract the effects of all the calories ingested during this time. Austria is famous for its pastries and coffee house culture and we will indulge. The Viennese Coffee House is an institution and listed as   “Intangible Cultural Heritage  in the Austrian inventory of the “National Agency for the Intangible Cultural Heritage”, a part of  Unesco.  Coffee is said to have been brought to Vienna during the Turkish sieges in the 17th Century. The ‘Kipferl” , the ancestor of the croissant, is also said to stem from that time, the shape representing the Islamic crescent and commemorating the defeat of the Ottomans.



And of course I will look out for all things hats and millinery. Fortuna has arranged for a hat exhibition in Vienna to be visited and I hope to have some lucky finds at one or two antique fairs.

So for now……

so long




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After Ascot…..

The much anticipated event has been and gone. 5 days of hat and frock ( and trouser) looking / searching and I somehow think that this year was less “spectacular” than previous years.

I realize that we only see a fraction of attendees…often the media focuses on the outrageous rather than the truly stylish. I’m sure that there were more wonderfully dressed ladies about who we just don’t get to see…still…

It was rather pleasing to see so few fascinators but quite a lot larger brimmed hats and headpieces.  In the last few blogs on Ascot I picked the outfits which stood out for me, a couple of them more so than the rest. All of the ladies looked lovely, but I was hoping for more…..more of “haven’t seen before”…more fashion forward….more truly amazing. I mean, come on – if you can’t do it at Ascot, where else? Right?

Let’s remind ourselves of the Ascot Dress code suggestions of the last couple of years:

This is along the lines of what I hoped to see more of: elegant outfits, statement millinery and a bit of quirky wow thrown in with it. Alas – not much of that has been seen, at least it wasn’t shown by the media.


The 2 outfits I have seen which would quite easily fit right in with all these images:

Bebe Pham in pink on Ladies Day – absolutely gorgeous



Tatiana Korsakova nailed “how to be super stylish in relaxed fashion” in black with hot pink accents – millinery by Philip Treacy


Tatiana Korsakova


Was also hoping to see more really cool millinery like these ( Stephen Jones, Philip Treacy)


I found these 2 examples but hoped for more hat porn – aka beautifully made model millinery



Stephen Jones Model Millinery 2016


unknow milliner


Quietly hoping that in the coming days more pictures will emerge in which case I will update .

Final word: after talking to a couple of people about it I have come to the conclusion that we “downunder” are really quite spoiled when it comes to racing fashion. We see so many amazing outfits on the Fashion on the Field events , put together with style and creativity, that we have become a tough bunch to impress.

And to end it all – here are a couple of rainbows 🙂