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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