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Louise Gray designs for equality

The Scottish designer and feminist designs for the world's first female jockey team

Fashion has been a real topic of conversation throughout the 2012 London games, from its relationship to the psychology of success, to the somewhat tedious controversy surrounding Team GB's opening ceremony outfits. Off the Olympic periphery – but not any less significant – the press were treated to an unveiling of dresses designed by Louise Gray for the world's first all-female jockey team, comprising of Chantal Sutherland, Emma-Jayne Wilson and Britain's own No. 1 Hayley Turner. The punchy hot pink and black striped shift dress, with winged cap shoulder details (a likely reference to the designer's A/W 12 batwing-ed print) will be worn this Saturday at the opening of the Dubai Duty Free Sherger Cup, Britain's premier jockey competition, where they will compete against three all-male teams. Ahead of the race, Dazed had a quick word with Turner and Gray. In true post-feminism fashion, the women focused on celebrating equality with cheek – that the press call was held in the Dorchester Hotel's spa room did not go amiss!


Dazed Digital: How did you get involved with this project?
Louise Gray:
I was introduced to the girls through my PR and once I read about them and all the things they've achieved, it seemed perfect for me. They've had amazing careers and achieved so much in their field. These are new steps for women into the world of ascot so we should celebrate that, it's great! But aside from that, they're just gorgeous women.

DD: Do you ride yourself?
No, I had a horse when I was younger but I only play squash now. I'm quite sporty, you know!

DD: Tell us about the dress you designed for the team.
Mostly I tried to marry what they wear on the horses to what they would wear off the field. I took the colours and stripes of their racing silks as my main inspiration.

DD: Sporting apparel tend to be pared down – unlike your signature aesthetic, some might say. Was this quite difficult for you to approach?
Not really, because sometimes I do pieces that are quite minimal. I just wanted to make a cute dress that the three girls could look great in. It's the first time an all-female team will be racing together, and I wanted them to be different, striking and I wanted to use the pink colour that's associated with women but in a really positive and strong way.

DD: What did you learn designing for a different clientele?
The only thing different is that they have amazing bodies! Very different from models. I like that they were about my height.

DD: What does girl power mean to you today?
Louise Gray:
It's not necessarily about girls; it's more about being a woman and knowing who you are, what you want to do. They're obviously successful career women and have proven that through all the things they've been awarded with, and going for it in your own field is completely amazing. For them, it's not a question about being a man or woman; they're jockeys who just happen to be women – which in the world of jockeys is quite unusual – and who compete against the men on a day-to-day basis and on an even playing field… and beat them!


DD: What do you think of the dress you're now modelling?
Hayley Turner:
It's not something I'd normally wear – everyone said it looks nice but I'm normally not very fashionable! It's super comfortable.

DD: What does it mean to be a female jockey?
I think being female is not an issue with me anymore because I've been doing racing for so long. I'm used to hanging out with the lads all the time.

DD: Do women jockeys have any particular advantage over male jockeys?
We probably get more publicity and press than the guys because it's something a little bit different. But we work equally as hard as they do!