In celebration of the Kentucky Derby Museum’s 5.5 million dollar renovation project Louisville native, Larry Birkhead, will loan two of Anna Nicole Smith’s outfits worn at Kentucky Derby festivities to the museum.
Birkhead heard of the serious flood damage the museum incurred in August 2009 and reached out to the Louisville attraction to offer the celebrity dresses for the museum’s new fashion exhibit. The dresses include a pale pink, sequined v-neck Derby dress complete with matching pink hat, jeweled Christian Dior heels and peony blossom purse. The dress was worn by Smith to the Kentucky Derby in 2004. Smith’s Derby outfit will be on display in the very first exhibit visitors see when they enter through the museum’s starting gates.
“The museum’s renovation project gives us a new opportunity to showcase iconic fashion items worn to Derby. This is the first time a celebrity has loaned us Derby attire and we’re thrilled to showcase them for visitors. Larry was so generous to think of us and we hope that it starts a trend of displays that the public is excited to see,” says Lynn Ashton, Executive Director. “Celebrities and Derby go hand and in hand. They are part of the bigger story surrounding the race and we aim to share the star-spotting experience with visitors from around the world.”
Birkhead has also loaned an elegant, black gown with rhinestone jewels worn by Smith to the celebrity-studded Barnstable Brown ball held to benefit Diabetes research. The floor-length gown worn to the 2004 Barnstable Brown Party will be showcased in a section of the museum designed to highlight the celebrity parties held in Louisville Derby week. Birkhead and Smith first met at the Barnstable Brown party in 2004 while Birkhead was photographing the event.
Birkhead will be available for interviews and a photo-op with the dresses at 10:00 a.m. EST the morning of April 29th. Birkhead will bring his daughter Dannielynn to the museum to see her mother’s dresses on display in the all new museum but Dannielynn will not be available for the photo-op.
The dresses will be exhibited when the museum first opens to the public. Other fashion items scheduled for display include: a purple Derby suit worn by Maker’s Mark President, Bill Samuels Jr., a suit from Famed Derby owner, Penny Chenery worn in the winner’s circle following Riva Ridge’s victory and other items to highlight the variation of styles worn at the track since 1875. An extensive hat display will also be part of the fashion exhibit and will include a hat worn by America’s Top Model judge Nigel Barker’s wife. The Kentucky Derby Museum will re-open to the public on Sunday, April 18th at 2:00 p.m. after nearly 9 months of closure due to flooding and a resulting renovation.
Photos provided by Larry Birkhead