SARATOGA SPRINGS (Sunday, August 13) – And they’re off! This kickoff event for Equestricon came out of the starting gate strong, and hit the ground running.
Held on the lawn of The Saratoga Reading Room, the Equestricon Fashion Showcase, presented by StarLadies Racing, featured these Saratoga based boutiques: Encounter, Lifestyles of Saratoga, Miss Scarlett, Impressions of Saratoga, TOGA Heritage, jewelry creations by MarMar and stunning hats by Christine A. Moore. The event was simple and feminine while focusing on fashion and equestrian pieces.
As Matt and I arrived, we were greeted by Ashley Cline. Bubbly as my mimosa, Ashley told me that she is an equestrian blogger who wanted to showcase fashion from the functional (riders), to attending the races (fans). She was also over the moon excited to welcome StarLadies Racing to this event, as she felt that this partnership pulls women into the sport, and not just as a fan.
During the show, Donna Barton Brothers, a former jockey and now reporter and analyst, took the microphone and told us a story of how fashion and women are essential to racing.
She recalled that years ago in Australia the horse racing industry was struggling. But then women began to come to the races, dressed to the 9’s.
Well, you do the math! Who showed up to see the fillies? Not just the horses, but the feminine, enticing, beautiful women… Hello gentlemen! Suddenly, The Melbourne cup became huge again and revitalized racing in Australia.
(Everything in life should be this simple…)
After this pep talk, I knew I needed to do my part for racing in Saratoga… which, on Planet Mandy means – shopping time!
My first stop was at Miss Scarlett where Tara Lefevre was modeling an equestrian silk halter dress. Jennifer Marcellus, Owner of Miss Scarlett, not only designed the dress, but made it.
Well, I’m both proud and a bit ashamed to admit I tried the dress on right there, in front of the other shoppers, right over my outfit, and purchased it immediately! I then turned, and saw this white Lucite clutch with an inlaid gold glitter horse. Did I mention there was a full mirror inside? And a detachable gold chain? You can guess how this story ended.
I then met Deborah DePasquale, CEO and founder of TOGA heritage. Their slogan is “love where you live”-which for Deborah is Saratoga. Deborah was so full of life and passion when explaining her work that I could not help but fall in love with her products.
Deborah produces TOGA products that would catch the eye of individuals, whether local or adopted local, at heart. Items that would be usable for a Saratoga porch party, perhaps tailgating at Polo, concerts at SPAC, or a wedding at the Casino. All of these unique items contain the TOGA emblem and can be found on line at firstname.lastname@example.org or at our very own Paper Dolls in Saratoga through September.
I’m a sucker for jewelry and when you combine that with a charity – that’s a Winner, winner, chicken dinner. Marlene MacFarlane (Jewelry Designs by MarMar) is affiliated with WestPoint Thoroughbreds, the gold standard in racing partnerships and MarMar gives up to 25 percent of each purchase towards an equestrian charity. Her pieces were charming and screamed Saratoga, and her business has exploded since hitting the internet a little over a year ago.
After my wallet would not allow me to shop anymore, we sat down to brunch – beautifully presented by Seasons Catering. My choice was at the omelet station, but others munched on waffles, fresh fruit, muffins, and hot chaffing dishes loaded with breakfast delights.
Bloody Marys were an option, but I chose mimosa and there I sat, glowing from a full belly and happy purchases.
During brunch, Ashley led an intimate fashion show, with presentations by all the boutiques. I delighted at the unique jewelry – ooh: maybe I could just purchase just one more dress or maybe a spectacular hat…
…but I made sure to save my biggest smile for the sole, blushing gentleman modeling Impressions of Saratoga Dark Horse and Equestricon wear.
Leaving, I was reminded to take my “swag bag”. Always being one to follow the rules, I happily obliged.
The bags were overstuffed and contained fabulous items – horseshoe studded earrings, a stainless steel water bottle with the StarLadies Racing emblem, Dark Horse racing hat, and a large cloth bag from Lifestyles and Caroline and Main stating, “when you buy from a small business an actual person does a happy dance.”
If this is how Equestricon is going to be, well, saddle up for a blast! They’ve tapped into a winning equation this morning, which is: Local + Saratoga Fashion + StarLadies = perfection!
And there are still two days to go. This is going to be good.
Equestricon continues through Monday and Tuesday. For all details, visit their website
Photos: Matthew J. Campbell