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Dazed Beauty Ascot
Photography Roxy Lee

The bright, the bold, the beautiful: portraits from Royal Ascot

Photographer Roxy Lee reports from this year's Royal Ascot

TextAlex PetersPhotographyRoxy Lee

Every year, in the third week of June, hundreds of thousands of people gather at the Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire for five days of thoroughbred horse racing. A hotly anticipated event in the British social calendar since its founding by Queen Anne in 1711, Royal Ascot has been attended by Queen Elizabeth and her companions since 1945. A perfect combination of pageantry and pomp, every year people arrive dressed to the nines in their most resplendent finery – the hats are extravagant, the fashion is flashy and the champagne is plentiful.  

“Absolutely everyone puts on their best drag,” says Ms Jason, who was our eyes and ears on the ground alongside photographer Roxy Lee. “The hats on Ladies Day are incredible. Ascot should definitely be one of the seven wonders of the world, I saw floral hats, towering fascinators, feminine top hats, structural sculptures - the lot!” 

“The creativity and preparation that went into the looks was insane, I was so surprised to discover loads of people had made their own hats and professionally had their hair and make-up done,” adds Roxy. “A lot of it felt quite bridal to me. The lips and lashes were off the chain.” 

Many of the women matched their eye make-up to the colour of their accessories, says Miss Jason, who was surprised by how subtly experimental the looks were and there was a reoccurring theme of a burnt orange smokey eye. 

“I asked one mature lady in a pale blue dress and matching feather hat what the go-to look for Ascot was,” Miss Jason says, “to which she replied ‘Something that’s going to last all day, something that’s practical but beautiful, you’ve got to look kind of stunning don’t you, but you also have to look like you haven’t made too much effort.’ One lady said ‘For Ascot, I like to go for something that’s contoured but natural, sort of like Kim K.’ I’ll leave it at that.”