Celebrity Stylist Donny Galella is one of the nation’s most recognised sartorial talents with a career spanning well into its second decade. The dapper MC and Presenter’s work can be seen regularly at everything from The Emmys to Australia’s major racing carnivals, with a variety of talk show and TV appearances in between.
A media spokesperson and stylist for Westfield, Donny has worked with big names such as Sophia Loren, Sir Richard Branson, Jennifer Hawkins, Nikki Phillips and Kris Smith. The fashion stylist is known for his expertly executed ensembles, championing affordability, and a flair for creating memorable looks for both men and women. FATR tracked down fashion’s favourite authority to talk men’s racing attire and millinery trends.
Donny’s obsession with the realm of fashion began when he was just a little boy. “My mum and one of my sisters both have a great eye for style,” Donny said. “Growing up, I learnt a lot from them.” With a mind like a sponge as he started out in the industry, Donny absorbed every opportunity to learn, develop and deepen his love for fashion.
“Even today, I am still learning, trying to do things better and collaborating with other like-minded people as much as I can,” he said. “I adore collaborating and learning from fellow creatives.”
Donny’s styling talents led him through various fields of fashion but venturing into racewear came in the form of a favour. “The main catalyst was when a dear friend told me she was heading off to the races and she couldn’t afford to buy a hat,” Donny said. “So, I offered to make her one,” he said. “I whipped her up a hat, she ended up winning Fashions on the Field and it led to an instant demand for my hats.”
Donny’s head-to-toe styling career flourished, and racing fashion won a special place in his heart. “Going back around 13 years, racing had just started to really take off in Sydney,” Donny said. “I felt there was a gap in the market for stylish, well-priced headwear, so I began to explore the market,” he said. “Within two years of starting my self-titled label, it was stocked in MYER.”
At the helm of his eponymous label, Donny never stopped striving for higher standards. “It’s a constant journey to keep improving, developing, growing, looking for new inspirations, always planning a season or two ahead,” Donny said. “When you are running any business, especially doing it solo, you are constantly wearing numerous hats (pardon the pun), from designing, to marketing and PR, looking after your accounts and distribution.” He said. “It can be really stressful, so loving what you do is the key!”
This season in millinery, Donny anticipates 2019’s trends will endure. “The boater will continue to be really popular, oversized and decorated with bows, under the neck tie details and netting,” Donny said. “Based on the international runway shows, I think we will see lots of netting,” he said. “Crowns are cute, but I feel there is a move towards bigger, more oversized and dramatic hats, more oversized velvet bows worn on the back of the head, satin and padded fabric headbands with embellishment and netting too.”
“I have styled many racing themed photo shoots,” the former Golden Slipper Ambassador said. “I’ve judged Fashions on The Field, I even had the honour to MC Fashions on the Field and I’ve attended countless race days right around Australia,” he said. “I just love racing and its alignment with style.”
“There have been so many favourite looks over the last 13 years, it’s so hard to choose just one,” Donny said. “But there is something so special about styling Derby Day looks,” he said. “The black and white theming is so classical and timeless; I look back at some past looks from years ago and they still look stylish and current today.”
For Donny, achieving an outstanding men’s racing look is a simple formula. “A well-cut suit that is well tailored on his body and accessorised with a nice tie, pocket square and beautiful leather shoes,” Donny recommended. “If he wears an appropriate hat, that just elevates his look to the next level.”
Donny advises suit selection should be made with the season in mind, with an eye kept on grooming for overall polish. “For example, a warmer, maybe textured suit such as tweed for autumn racing, or lighter colours or texture for spring racing,” he said. “The cut of the suit should complement his build, ideally perfectly tailored for his body shape.”
The top trends in men’s racewear right now are check suits, double breasted suit styles and not-so-typical suit colours such as brown, khaki, mustard, rust and pastels, according to Donny. “I love men’s racing style at the moment as men are really embracing unique and individual looks,” he said.
“A nice shirt and tie combination is crucial, but it’s the attention to detail that will really set him apart,” Donny said. “Details such as nice socks, good quality leather shoes, pocket square, tie pin, lapel pin, suspenders, a hat or a nice watch,” he said. “He should confidently wear the entire look, it should not be wearing him.”
Donny has long believed that it’s not the brand or cost of the suit, but how one wears it. “I see men in vintage suits that look spectacular, I see men in high street (affordable) brands that look incredible,” Donny said. “It’s all about the cut, having the suit tailored to complement your build and then the attention to detail,” he said.
“When I take clients shopping, some brands I like to explore are: Calibre, Jack London, MJ Bale, Politix, Farage and Dom Bagnato,” Donny said. “If he is on a serious budget, a visit to YD or Oxford is a good option.”
Focusing on accessories, Donny notes the shoe and sock combination is very important. “Fashion savvy men now are matching their fun socks back with their shirt, tie and suit combination,” he said. “Pocket squares and lapel pins will always be power accessories too.”
Once dressed, Donny recommends men look at themselves in a full-length mirror. “I think some guys try to do too much,” Donny said. “If the overall outfit starts to look a bit ‘costume’ or busy, then start to take off an element or two,” he said. “Always dress for your individual style, dress for who you are; it’ll make you feel and look more comfortable and confident.”
With plenty of drizzly days left on the calendar at racecourses nationwide, Donny says layering is key. “Start with your spring racing look,” Donny said. “Add a thin knit jumper or a vest for some extra warmth,” he said. “Coats are having a huge fashion moment, you can layer a coat (or trench coat) over your racing suit, then add some warmer accessories such as leather gloves, felt style hats and a nice scarf.”
Looking forward to another year in the stylist cycle, we can expect to see Donny’s work across Autumn racing, The Logies, Dally M Awards, Brownlow Medals, Australian Cricket Awards, Spring Racing, AACTA Awards and Aria Awards, plus your daily dose of Donny via Instagram @donnygalella.
“Usually interwoven are other projects, or my regular segment on The Morning Show or MCing / hosting events,” he said. “I love that every day is so diverse, and no two work days are ever the same.”
For FATR fans, the Roxby Downs Cup and Quorn Cup are the last qualifying events for this season. Among the prizes on the day for Best Dressed Menswear is a pair of Rossi Boots. The South Australian legacy label has just launched their Barossa Series - a perfect companion for a wintery day at the track according to Rossi Brand Marketing Manager Jayne-Anne Power.
“It’s a stylish option that’s super comfortable for a day on your feet,” said Jayne-Anne. “It comes in four colours and has a classic shape, so it suits pretty much any outfit,” she said. “The mud shedding tread underfoot can also pretty handy.”
This season, Rossi is loving nubuck leathers for their brown oily aesthetic and rustic theming. “They are very soft to the touch and can be dressed up or down depending on your mood,” Jayne-Anne said.
“We’re vibing the classic elastic side boot this season which can be worn with jeans, chinos or a suit,” she said. “It’s hard to get this wrong because our boots are so classic and there’s a boot for any outfit.”
Before your next day at the track, get acquainted with the FATR 2018-2019 Competition Judging Criteria here.