You know that the Spring is here when the orders for upcoming Racing Season begin to come in. March is almost at the end of its course but New York is still gearing up for that last blast of snow today. Well, snow or no snow, the production is always extremely intense here, in my Atelier. I like doing things far in advance and so "Ko-Ko Muse", which I am introducing to you here, has been created for my "Confessions" Collections with a very specific thought behind it - to bring elegance and chic to the hats of Kentucky Derby. I admittedly dismissed Kentucky Derby for years. I did design several hats for several of my clients attending the event but with one condition only - the design aspect was always left to me, I insisted I was given complete freedom when it came to the design of the hat. I did, however, refused every single request for the creation of your typical, ghastly, overwhelmingly ugly hat Kentucky Derby is so famous for. As far as I was concerned - I am not putting my name I have worked so hard to create on the hat I think is far below the standard.
Unfortunately, big, bulky, acid colored, "rip your eye" kind of hats are still a big YES-YES for Kentucky Derby attendees, for the very rare exception of course. Thank God for this rare exceptions - without resting my eyes on them I might go blind one day. I think this is due to the fact that to American women attending Kentucky Derby the hat for the occasion is still more of an afterthought rather than a well thought through accessory. It is often ordered very close to the event and the main objective is to be noticed at all costs hence all this horrific giant bows and hyper flowers. / text edited/ Of course, there are beautiful hats we are treated to in Kentucky Derby round ups, but those, in my opinion, are far and few in between. Overwhelming majority of hats I view as unsuitable. I divide these in two categories: 1. Tasteless kitsch - these hats don't appear out of the thin air, they are created by milliners who cater to the idea that bigger is always better and that it is the hat that wears a woman not a woman that wears a hat. 2. Hats I call "safies" - these are the hats that would be suitable for work in the garden or casual wear - plain and average. In shoe terms, it is like flip flops in comparison to lets say Manolo Blahniks. They are obviously picked not because they are Kentucky Derby material, but because, well, it is hat and anything goes . Neither two of this categories are acceptable because neither one of this two categories serve up to the high standard of Kentucky Derby. I am puzzled and taken back by continuous lack of effort on behalf of Kentucky Derby attendees who bring less that acceptable headwear to the pride and joy of American Racing in the US. Notice the difference: if European lady will always order her hat first and then built the entire outfit around it, American will most likely to leave the choice of the hat to the very last minute. Neither is necessarily write or wrong but it points out to the existing hat culture and tradition in Europe vs. absence of such in the US. This is precisely why the choice of Kentucky Derby hats we see year after year is so disappointing. High standards of the Royal Ascot is there for the entire world to see and admire and yet always such a disappointing turn around of hats in Kentucky Derby chronicles. The word "standard" is a key word here. While Ascot have strict guide lines on what is viewed as appropriate race wear, Kentucky Derby does not. And so here you have it, just like with anything else - the absence of appropriate dress code will always reflect on what we see during Kentucky Derby. I hope I can contribute to slowly changing it to the higher standard. Let's start with "Ko-Ko Muse" - :-)