The sign of a great event isn't necessarily the people. It’s not even really the venue or cocktails or decor, though that is all fairly important. When it comes down to it, the make or break element is the fashion.
Typically, we assess the gowns or suits of elite attendees along a red carpet, but the fanfare around the two greatest minute in sports stands apart for the significance of another piece of dress: hats.
Distinguishing itself from other grand sports and entertainment events, the quintessential Kentucky Derby ensemble first and foremost features a hat. Believed to bring good luck, the tradition started among women in the race’s very first years, but men have come to take part. In fact, there are no rules to hat wearing— the official derby organization describes the range of hats as “fantastic to the sublime.”
From Southern Belle-inspired looks to innovative accessories invigorated with feathers and color, we’ve rounded up the best milliners to look to to get derby-ready.
Owner of Formé Millinery, Pfanenstiel is one of the official feature milliners for the Kentucky Derby. She offers a wide variety of fabulous hats that come as a result of her specialized technique that incorporates traditional millinery skills. What’s more, a portion of certain purchases go toward the Churchill Downs Charity Foundation, which supports the thoroughbred racing industry.
Also an official featured derby milliner, Kogan brings the glam of New York City to her designs. Known as the Hat Doctor, the former New Yorker fell in love with Louisville and derby fashion upon moving to Kentucky for medical school. Kogan’s hats are proper pieces of art, and best of all, she promises no two hats are ever the same.
How could you not trust the ultimate milliner to the stars for a next-level Kentucky Derby look? Los Angeles-based Tamez offers a wide variety of hats that would complete any look that says “I’m off to the races,” just ask clients Lady Gaga or Megan the Stallion. With derby in mind, we recommend the gorgeous, ‘70s-inspired Marianne hat.
Serious derby attendees should look to this longtime official derby milliner. Well-known for her explosive racing styles, Moore has cemented a Kentucky Derby legacy over the course of her 25-plus-year career. In 2009, her hats were used in the official Kentucky Derby poster and she designed the official Barbie derby hat. If you’re not already convinced to entrust Moore’s unparalleled expertise, past clients include Mary J. Blige, LeAnn Rimes and former Kentucky First Lady Jane K. Beshear.