It was worth the wait for the fashion theme of Africa’s premiere race day event, the Vodacom Durban July, which will dictate the colours, textures, fabrics and styles of every garment at Greyville on 7 July. The 2018 theme, It Is Time, was welcomed by all in the racing, fashion and social circles, ending months of speculation into this creatively vibrant affair.

Durban July Theme 2018

The Vodacom Durban July theme has evolved from decades past when just a word would suffice to guide the fashion element. These days, there is a grand announcement and even theme poem to perfectly capture the mood of the event.

It Is Time

… Years of planning
… Months of preparation
… Weeks of sharpening
… Days of fine tuning
… Hours of tension
… Minutes of anguish
… Seconds of panic
… a race against time!

A hundred and twenty-two years,
To This extraordinary day.
An occasion for celebration,
Camaraderie and play.

A national hero,
The winner will be.
A champion forever,
An equine V I P.

The fashion is timeless,
Explore a watch face.
Understated or classic,
Or detailed like lace.

The buzz of excitement,
You might ask why!
Twenty past four,
First Saturday of July.

Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event
The Vodacom Durban July.

Every element of the raceday has the aspect of time attached to it,” explained Gold Circle’s Event Marketing Manager Ken Tweddell, “from the time used to select the right stallion for the perfect mare, to the preparation of the perfect yearling for the sales. From the time of the two-year-old’s first race, to competing as a seasoned contender in the “ultimate” race – the Vodacom Durban July, it is years of time focused on a race that lasts just over two minutes.”

Tweddell said the theme explores the excitement of a thoroughbred winning the Vodacom Durban July and touches on the fashion element of raceday asking fashionistas and designers to create timeless fashion and to use the elements of a watch face to conceptualise their designs.

Fashion Programme Director, Tiffany Prior, said the theme beautifully mirrored the experience for designers as well who were constantly fighting time in the last-minute fine-tuning of gorgeous garments ready to wow audiences on the runway.

“Looking at this theme in terms of fashion, I see three words that stand out – timeless, understated, and classic,” said Prior. “Whatever the design, make sure it’s raceday appropriate and stands the test of time, as with some of the world’s greatest designers.”

Prior’s words, ‘raceday appropriate’ are particularly important as stylists will be quick to point out that raceday wear is not that of a costume party, but rather a sophisticated elegance that nods at the day’s theme. Remember the drill is to wear a flattering dress, a stand-out hat, and comfortable heels. Other guidelines to remember include:

  • Cooler weather – it might be Durban but it’s still winter and evenings, in particular, can get cool so plan something to drape over your shoulders.
  • Lighting – this is a daytime event, not an evening function when formal wear is generally the norm. Avoid garish sequins and colours best suited to subdued lighting.
  • Sophisticated hats and fascinators – this is not a rendition of the Madhatter’s tea party but an elegant affair.
  • Avoid baring skin – rather opt for a conservative-style dress rather than backless or strapless. Mid-thigh length is appropriate.
  • Don’t over-accessorise – less is more when it comes to raceday accessories. Let the outfit make the statement.

It’s always wise to follow style guidelines when it comes to raceday fashion, but remember to put your own unique stamp on whatever you choose. At the end of the day, this is your time to make a splash.

Fashion Programme

As with most major horseracing events, the fashion makes up a large part of the day with upcoming designers, established designers and independent fashionistas embracing the annual theme and translating it into extravagant garments. There is further encouragement of the local fashion industry through a number of competitions run prior to, and on, race day.

Visitors can expect to witness extraordinary creations from the pre-race day competitions and shows including The Vodacom Durban July Young Designer Award; The Vodacom Durban July Fashion Challenge and The Vodacom Durban July Fashion Experience as well as the race day fashion competitions and Invited Designer Showcase taking place on the day.

It’s important to follow the trends propelled onto the catwalks as the style and tone for the event will trickle down from here.

1. Invited Designer Showcase

The most glamorous element of the fashion programme, the Invited Designer Showcase sees eight leading national designers selected according to aspects such as their position within the international market, media profile and experience in the world of fashion. Each designer will interpret the theme in a range of outfits including a showstopper and race day ensemble for a couple.

2. Young Designer Award

Another influential element on the fashion calendar is this award which engages young talent to create an outfit connected to the theme with the winning candidate receiving a cash prize as well as a helpful boost in the fashion world.

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