It’s all about wide brims, fanciful top hats and bold, bright colors at this year’s Kentucky Derby hat-fashion scene.
Going by the most popular styles and requests of her clients, Cape Cod milliner Sally Faith Steinmann says the Derby-goers she is outfitting are craving color and fun.
“This year I’m seeing a real playfulness in what people are requesting,” says the owner of custom couture millinery, Maggie Mae Designs. “The brims are very wide, and we’re seeing a lot of hot pinks, oranges and fuchsia—we’re even putting all those colors together in one hat!”
Faith-Steinman surmises that the tough economy and maybe even the Royal wedding, where hats and fascinators of all shapes and sizes were on display, has inspired patrons to choose cheerier colors and sparked high fashion bravery.
The Fascinators, like those worn with such aplomb at the wedding of Catherine and Prince William is a small, funky, fun headpiece that has grabbed hold in America, she says. “For people who hesitate to wear a wider brim, they’re something of a bridge for people into wearing hats,” she says.
But for those well versed in the language of hat fashion, Steinmann’s most popular creations this year make a dramatic statement.
“Everything is bigger than life this year! I’m creating enormous flowers, with feathers spilling off, to create one-of-a-kind looks,” she says, noting that her most sought after styles include The Billie Cocktail Hat, which is a smaller top hat bedecked in tulle and features twisted into flattering curves.
For Steinmann, creating hats for the Derby, Royal Ascot and other horse-related events, is a pure, if not hectic, joy.
And, she has incorporated her passion for horses into an ongoing charitable partnership with Old Friends Equine, a Thoroughbred retirement facility in Kentucky.
Each year she crafts hats that are inspired by the look of famous Old Friends retirees, and donates them as auction items to be used in fundraisers.
Thus far, more than $16,000 (so far!) has been raised in hat auctions for Old Friends.
“The Kentucky Derby is all about hats and horses, and this glorious stage, which provides me with the chance to showcase my couture Derby hats, and at the same time to bring attention to our need to care for our retired racehorses.”