By the time the first rays of sunlight creep across the grass at Flemington this morning, Perth milliner Reny Kestel hopes she will have finished making her last hat for arguably her most important customer - her mother.
For many Australian milliners there is no busier day than Melbourne Cup, when months of work creating hats and fascinators fin- ally pays off.
For Ms Kestel, of Reny Kestel Millinery, demand from customers has been such that she has had to leave requests from friends and family members until the last possible minute.
"It's been very busy and I'm on the tail end of orders," she said late yesterday.
"My mother's always left until last."
The trade-off for a midnight delivery, she added with a laugh, was the "family discount".
When it comes to size, style and colour, trends in headwear can vary from year to year.
However, as a general guide trends in hats tend to follow broader fashion trends, Ms Kestel said.
"This year I feel like it's got a little bit smaller or simpler," she said.
"Neutrals are always pretty popular. This year we've seen a bit more white and cream."
Ms Kestel said most customers chose their dress first and then tried to select headwear that would complement their outfit.
Like her customers, Ms Kestel will be modelling one of her own creations when the horses take off in the race that stops a nation at noon today.
However, she will not be braving the crowds to show off her goods at Ascot.
After a hectic few weeks spent largely in her Mt Pleasant showroom, Ms Kestel said she had her eye on a quiet drink in the Leederville sun at The Garden.
"I'm just hoping the weather gets better," she said.
Passchendales Accessories' Tania Tehan said neon and lace had also emerged as big themes.
"There's lots of colour this season," she said. "It's very lolly- coloured."Ms Tehan, whose designs have graced heads at Royal Ascot, will be watching at Crown Perth.
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