The glitz and glamour often spotted in Louisville the first weekend of May for the Kentucky Derby has found its way to Paducah.
As Kentuckians prepare to celebrate the annual Run for the Roses and restaurants and bars perfect their Mint Julep recipes, many dress for the occasion by replicating the styles and fashion often spotted each year at Churchill Downs, including the famous Derby hats and fascinators.
Kenn Gray, owner of HOME at 216 Broadway St. in Paducah, has designed hundreds of Derby hats and fascinators for various clients throughout his career.
According to Gray, who has been knighted by the Schaumburg-Lippe royal family, Derby hats are an opportunity for people to branch out of their comfort zone, try something new and have a little fun with their fashion.
“The Derby hat moment is kind of a perfect outlet for my own creativity,” Gray said. “I think, in a lot of ways, it’s kind of an excuse or reason for people who might not normally be comfortable, let’s say, being a little outside of the box to do so.”
When designing Derby hats for his clients, Gray seeks inspiration from what his client plans to wear with the hat to make sure that the hat and outfit fit well together, and makes sure the hat fits the client’s personality.
Size matters: the bigger the hat, the better it is, Gray said. Accessories often feature some sparkle, and Gray said the Derby is incomplete without some feathers featured in hats and fascinators.
“You’re always gonna see feathers at Derby. That’s just a given,” Gray said.
One of the hats Gray has made recently featured a bright red top hat with roses, paying homage to the Kentucky Derby’s rose connection, and white feathers fashioned to the side of the hat.
A fascinator is a good choice for someone looking for a more simple, couture look, Gray said. Fascinators he creates can still feature some sparkle, feathers and gems while keeping the look on the simple side, Gray said.
Alexis Jones is the owner of Jaded Layne Boutique, which has locations in Paducah on Olivet Church Road and in Draffenville. Jones noticed that many customers were searching for the right Derby accessory a few years ago, with some western Kentuckians going to Derby parties or even heading up to Louisville to watch the “fastest two minutes in sports” in person.
“We look forward to this time of year, helping our customers find the perfect outfit, along with their Derby hats and fascinators. The interest has seemed to grow each year, with more people attending the Derby and even more who host parties,” Jones said.
Outside of the hats and fascinators that often become the staple piece for a Derby attendee’s outfit, Gray also shared some fashion advice for those looking to replicate the Louisville styles. Gray said outfits at the Kentucky Derby often resemble what is trending in the couture fashion world, but add a little bit of a Kentucky flair.
Typically, gentlemen incorporate pastel colors into their Derby outfit. For women’s fashion, Gray said some of the popular colors featured in dresses and outfits include shades of red, to go with the red roses, and other earthy jewel tones.
Jaded Layne Boutique still has several Derby hats and fascinators available for folks who are searching for the perfect piece to go with their Derby outfits.
HOME, Gray’s store, is also sponsoring a Derby hat contest on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the store’s downtown location, as part of the first Water of Life festival celebrating Kentucky culture, where contestants can see how their extravagant accessories compare to other contestants. The winner will receive a $100 HOME shopping spree.
Gray said folks can also call HOME at 270-442-4463 to ask for his assistance with Derby hats and accessories.