Sunday, May 05, 2002

It's a cloche call for best sartorial display

Dressing for the Derby can go to your head

By Kristina Goetz,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LOUISVILLE — Second only to England's Ascot in the world of hat display, Kentucky Derby-goers boasted their best on Saturday.

        Under a blue sunny sky, vintage 1920s and '40s-style chapeaus dominated the Downs' high-hat seats.

        Just below in the paddock, where regular revelers go to see and be seen, women sized up the competition. Either for the amount of money spent or creativity of the design, that is.

        The most oft-spotted hats, though, on the first Derby after Sept. 11, 2001, were those matched with green Army fatigues: the berets worn by the scores of military police added for extra security this year.

        Katie Hummel, 25, of Mount Lookout, wore a light beige hat to match her brown linen dress. She and a group of college friends sported a variety of styles.

        Ms. Hummel bought hers at Parisian in Kenwood Towne Centre. “I had the outfit first and then found a hat to match the outfit,” she said.

        And the price? “Not on sale,” she said. “Never tell.”

        Angela Barbic came to her first Kentucky Derby from Hilton Head, S.C. This true Southern woman displayed true Southern style with a large white magnolia on a black hat topped off with peacock feathers. “I wanted it wild and feathery,” she said.

        “I'm in heaven. This is like a man going to the Masters.”

        Of the make-your-own variety, Vel Pearce vied for the most original.

        Every year since 1977 the Carmi, Ill. woman has worn a hat to the Derby. She works with her hometown florist, Nik's Ivy, to create each year's style. A true cast iron miniature horse sat atop this year's unique headgear, cluttered with sundry Derby trademarks. The horse is “a trophy I got at a yard sale,” she said.

        Turning heads at the Derby was Teresa Roberts, 41, of Louisville, who donned a wide red and black hat with a large red blossom smack dab in the center. She chose the hat, designed by Gin of Glips, “because it made a statement. Dare to be different.”

        In her 11 years of attending the Derby, Ms. Roberts said, “this is my favorite (hat) so far.”

        Bill Abernathy, 55, was stylin' from head to toe. He wore a white straw hat, complemented by red, black, yellow, and white and black feathers. He considered several styles before selecting the one he wore. So how did he decide?

        “I tried a few hats on and this one looked the best on me,” the Louisville resident said. “I love hats. I wear hats all the time.”


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