Kentucky Derby HatsHat Trick
Beyond the Met Ball, Mardi Gras and your wedding, there are few social occasions where bigger is unequivocally better. Especially in this age of minimalist silhouettes and colorblocking. Subtle details tend to eclipse big, flashy numbers in popularity. But one time that’s never true? Derby Day.
A proper Derby hat is as much about quality as quantity. The bigger the hat, the more there is to see, so what’s on full display must be in tip-top form. This isn’t news, of course, to America’s highest-quality milliners, who’ve turned out toppers of prodigious size, perfect for this occasion. We’ve perused their 2014 Derby collections and handpicked the biggest and brightest buys.
A birds’-eye viewer might mistake the Derby crowd for a garden in bloom. Los Angeles-based Louise Green loves vintage hats and their hyper-realistic approximations of flowers. With silk roses and lilacs (on a bed of organza, no less), the label’s Georgina in Corn with Multi is its very own trompe l’oeil flower show.
Up in Millionaire’s Row, where everyone has a million-dollar view, blocking other spectators is hardly a concern. Wearing the biggest possible hat becomes not just a right, but a duty. Church Derby Hats Chelsea by Vinzetta Millinery of Chicago, a confection of mesh, feathers and straw, is literally larger than life.
No matter how dramatic, a hat should never wear you. So, we adore the way the Tasha by Maggie Mae Designs accents the face below it. The hat’s wide and asymmetrical arc coupled with climbing rows of tulle and taffeta cast its wearer in a perfect, and perfectly mysterious, half-light.
Pastels are so prevalent in Derby fashion that something bolder and brassier can make for a fun change-up. A single pop of unexpected color against a deep shade of straw will certainly do so. The Margeaux Goodflight by Goorin Bros. pins a red rose to bright white plumage and an unbleached brim, with a floral-print scarf for some added panache.
To put it simply, if you look like an extravagant Christmas gift, you’re doing Derby right. Not only do ribbons fly freely at the event, but they’re often styled into elaborate flourishes distinctly reminiscent of gift toppers. The Belfry’s Plaza Suite Bristol – Sinamay Straw Swinger Hat is one such example, offsetting its cream satin curls with a soft, feminine shade of pink.