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Hats off to Sinead as she's runner up in Melbourne Cup

Irish milliner Sinead Madden made it to the semi-finals of the prestigious Melbourne Cup Millinery Award in Australia this week.

The award runs in conjunction with the Melbourne Cup horse race, one of the most glamorous occasions in the Australian social calender.

"I was in Australia the year before last and I met a few people in the industry and when they saw me wearing my hats they invited me to enter for the award," Sinead told the Herald.

"They introduced the award because millinery is so strong over there. So there's a separate competition for best-dressed lady and best milliner, but you can't enter both," she added.

But her hat almost didn't make it to Oz until a kind Samaritan who was heading to Melbourne offered to take the hat on the flight with her.


"I very nearly didn't get a hat over there when I looked at the cost of shipping it," she revealed.

"Then a lady in Ennis was travelling over and offered to bring it with her, so I sent over a hat from my Spring/Summer 2014 collection.

"The entire collection was graphics, all black and white with a pop of colour."

And the Irish connection was alive and well as Kelly Cooke - the niece of horse trainers Willie and Jackie Mullins - modelled the hat for her.

"To even get into the semi-finals at Melbourne was amazing, there's no competition to match it across the world," she said.

"This was my second year to enter the award and I'm the only Irish milliner who has ever been invited to enter and I hope I'll be back again next year," she added.

And Sinead's star is definitely on the rise as not only did she place 24th out of 100 milliners in Melbourne, but she also won the Irish Milliner of the Year Award at Cork Fashion Week last month.

"To win at fashion week in Cork was just brilliant. The award was judged by iconic fashion designer Peter O'Brien and that just made winning all the sweeter.

"It was just incredible to have been picked by one of Ireland's most famous designers," she added.