Derby Decades ~ Simply Chic (April 10, 2009 - December 31, 2009)

The Kentucky Derby is more than a horse race. It is a mood, an excitement and an atmosphere that create a culture around the track. The events and clothing tied to that culture can be traced back to 1875. Many of the seasonal festivities historically kicked off with black-tie charity balls and a Derby day hasn’t passed at the track without a celebration of festive hats.

For the first time, the great traditions of more than one hundred years of outrageous fashion at this infamous race will be explored and admired in one location. This exhibition will showcase the fashion of Derby winning owners, local residents, couture designers and celebrities through the decades. The exhibit will also demonstrate the impact fashion has on the Derby and the economy in Louisville.

This dynamic exhibit promises to be a hit for one and all! Ask anyone from locals to internationals and Derby is about one thing--- the HATS of course and the fashion too.

April 10, 2009- August 1, 2009: The exhibit opens with a display of lavish gowns on April 10th. Each decade since 1875 (the year of the first Kentucky Derby) will be represented by gowns styled on 60 mannequins. Donned by members of high society and celebrities, these gowns will showcase the flavor and elegance of Derby season. Gowns will be included from Armani, Issey Miyake, Nina Ricci, Karl Lagerfeld, Bob Mackie, Chanel, Escada, Carolina Herrara and Bill Blass, along with vintage dresses from the 20’s and 30’s and antique outfits from the late 1800’s. As an addition to this special collection, elaborate beaded gowns loaned by well-known Kentucky Derby celebrity hostess Tricia Barnstable will be also be displayed.

August 31, 2009- December 31, 2009: In the summer of 2009, this fashion retrospective will transition to Derby day attire highlighting splendid hats, accessories and outfits worn from Millionaire’s Row down to the Winner’s Circle. From spectator neutrals to florals, these fashions will focus on the best of the best from red carpet to Twin Spires.

Generous loans from the Louisville Science Center, Elizabeth Sage Collection at Indiana University and Speed Art Museum helped to make this exhibit possible.