Rain fails to spoil Ascot Ladies' Day fun

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The rain threatened to make Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot a wash-out today - but dedicated followers of fashion refused to let the weather spoil their fun.

Extravagant hats were briefly covered by umbrellas, and bold dresses with waterproofs, until the sun eventually came out.

Some racegoers decided to pay tribute to the 300th anniversary of the famous Berkshire racecourse with their choice of outfit.

A group of six friends wore hats in the shape of different birds as a nod to the 18th century.

Ann-Marie Sawdon, 28, from Stockton-on-Tees, who wore a dove design, said: "Our friend is a milliner, and as we're celebrating 300 years of Ascot we decided to go for a bird theme.

"In times gone by it was the fashion to wear stuffed birds on your head, so we decided to do the same - only not with real birds."

Paula Iachetti-Gibson, who travelled to Ascot from Milan in Italy, created a bold wide-brimmed hat with a veil which was decorated with a crown, a toy rabbit in a cage, eggs, leaves, butterflies and the number 300.

The 52-year-old said: "I wanted to make the hat in honour of the Queen, and my own country, Argentina, which is represented with the nature on it. It only took me one day, I made it yesterday."

Ascot veteran Florence Claridge, who has attended the event for more than 25 years, wore a vast red David Shilling hat which she described as looking "like a pretzel".

Ms Claridge, who wore a matching red dress by Bastet, said: "It's Ladies' Day, isn't it? You have to stand out."

Milliner Ilda di Vico chose the theme of ladybirds for her outfit. They decorated her hat, made of red and black hoops, and her handbag.

Ms di Vico, who wore a red dress with ruffled collar and sleeves, said: "I just love ladybirds, so had the dress made to match the hat."

One woman prepared for any weather was Miss Ballooniverse, who accessorised her 1950s-style emerald green dress coat by Jane & Marilyn with a hat made entirely of balloons - and, for that finishing touch, a balloon umbrella.

The balloon artist, who would not give her real name, said: "I made the umbrella just as I was leaving the house. I would have been soaked to the skin otherwise.

"The dress is called the Peacock Dress, so I wanted my hat to be in peacock colours. And it's completely waterproof, which is fantastic."

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