Elite horse racing and fashion go hand in hand.
Royal Ascot and Cheltenham are as famous for flamboyant dresses and hats as they are for thoroughbreds, while the Breeders’ Cup features the Longines Prize of Elegance Fashion Contest.
With Paris considered the fashion capital of the world, racing in the French capital is no different.
“There are certain race meetings which really are ‘fashion events’ and one of them is the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe,” says racing journalist Liz Price.
“It varies… French women are very much influenced by Coco Chanel – we are in the land of Coco Chanel – who liberated women from the corset and who made clothes to wear for ‘the occasion.’
“They will dress up, they will be elegant but, just like you and I, they will be wearing trousers or darker colors – but it’s very much a fashion event.”
Just across the English channel, Royal Ascot is the UK’s fashion answer to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Though while both take style as seriously as racing, that is where the similarities end. Price believes that the French and English have very different mindsets when it comes to fashion.
“I think French women dress more for the occasion,” Price says. “I think when you go to Royal Ascot, if you’ve picked out a dress for that day you’re going to wear it – come rain or shine.
“You’re going to wear that nice little dress. The French are a little bit more subtle about it.
“They will look at the weather and they think: ‘Oh no, I might have two or three outfits and I will chose on the day.’ I think that’s the main difference.”
From the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe to the Prix de Diane, attendees’ style varies greatly from meet to meet.
But if Price had to describe the French style in just a few words, what would she say?
“Elegant, very elegant,” she explains. “Very chique, very comfortable. French fashion is very comfortable. You will see lots of ladies today who will be wearing boots.
“They won’t go for the very, very high heels. I think it’s the distinguished look. Not too much, not over the top, which we do see here in France actually when we have the Longines Prix de Diane.
“That is very much a fashion event and people will wear the big hats and the outrageous colours and everything. But I think the normal French fashion is much more… Coco Chanel has a big influence.”