Ascot Racecourse has hired a fashion designer who previously promoted corsets for men as its first creative director, to curate its style guide for racegoers.
Daniel Fletcher will be responsible for the annual Lookbook and Millinery Collective, which were created to set the tone for Royal Ascot and have since evolved into tools to inspire spectators’ outfits.
The Cheshire-born designer, who was until last year the creative director of Italian fashion house Fiorucci, is known for his experimental style.
Corsets – for both men and women – were the focal point of his own clothing brand’s Spring/Summer 2023 collection.
“The idea of an item of clothing being for a specific gender is such a funny one,” Mr Fletcher told GQ last year. “I understand that something like a bra is designed for function, but when it comes to a shirt, why would we apply gender to something like that? And for me, the same applies to the corset.”
Among his fans is Harry Styles, who has also shunned the idea of clothing being designed for men or women and is often seen sporting extravagant dresses and skirts on stage and the red carpet.
The singer became Mr Fletcher’s first customer when he launched his debut collection in 2016, months after leaving fashion school, and the designer still credits him for his success.
As the first creative director in Ascot’s 300-year history, Mr Fletcher has promised to put his own stamp on this year’s Lookbook, inspiring racegoers to “push the boundaries” with their sartorial choices.
“I’m thrilled to be appointed as Ascot’s first creative director and have thrown myself into the new role,” he said.
“I’m keen to encapsulate the rich heritage of the racecourse, while embracing the unique dress codes, adding a contemporary twist to bring a flair that Ascot hasn’t seen before.”
He added: “For 2024, I want to inspire racegoers to push the boundaries with their own unique style and immerse themselves in the opportunity to embrace their own creativity – and what better occasion than Royal Ascot.
“I’m super excited to reveal the next evolution of style direction for the world- renowned brand and can’t wait for the vision to become a reality.”
However, Royal Ascot has said its formal dress code – as much a fixture of the meeting as its runners and riders – will remain unchanged.
Men are usually required to wear morning suits, including top hats, waistcoats and ties, while women are expected to wear hats or headpieces, as well as dresses and skirts of “modest length”.
Ascot Racecourse last year rebranded its annual style guide to include women wearing tailor-made trouser suits, while pre-loved and vintage clothing were also included in a nod to sustainable fashion.
A bold new look
While no photos of this year’s guide – renamed the Royal Ascot Lookbook last year – have been released, the racecourse promises a bold new look and feel for its occasion-wear under Mr Fletcher.
Alexandra Bertram, the brand and creative lead at Ascot Racecourse, said: “Self-expression and the joy of dressing up for a day at the races has always been at the heart of Ascot.
“2024 marks an incredibly exciting chapter for us and we are thrilled to appoint Daniel Fletcher as creative director. Royal Ascot style transcends simply dressing for the races and Daniel brings a fresh, authentic aesthetic, which perfectly mirrors our passion for individuality and personal style.
“Collaborating closely with Daniel, we’ll be catering to the diverse Ascot audiences with their incredible array of styles and varied shopping habits, from pre-loved to couture.
“He has a deep understanding of the Ascot brand and we cannot wait to work closely to create hero moments in the run-up to Royal Ascot and beyond.”