All the action from the 140th Kentucky Derby

Our adventure brought us to Louisville to see the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, the epicentre of hat wearing in America. What an amazing spectacle! 

In advance of the Derby my hats had been on sale in the wonderful boutique, Rodeo Drive in Louisville.

The First Friday in May is the Kentucky Oaks. The big race of the day is a Fillies race. The day and fashion are designed around highlighting Breast Cancer awareness. All of the ladies are encouraged to wear pink, the chosen colour of breast cancer awareness. A survivors parade takes place in the afternoon, where cancer survivors are selected to walk the world famous track. 

The fashion highlight is the Longines Fashion Competition which was MC’d by Miss America and judged by Longines Ambassador of Elegance Simon Baker (The Mentalist) and Carson Kressley along with Southern Living style editor Stefanie Granada. I was delighted to be chosen in the Final ten. I wore a custom made pink Fifties inspired off the shoulder dress by Tina Griffin Designs and a Carol Kennelly Millinery sculpted pink disk headpiece decorated with a bouquet of ivory, pink and lilac flowers, finished with a pink clutch bag and lilac shoes. The winner, Criselda Breene of Miami Beach, Fl. (on far right of photo) won a wonderful prize of a Longines timepiece from the Conquest 

Then came the day of the Derby, luckily the weather was perfect and the vibrant atmosphere hit you as soon as you entered Churchill Downs. My outfit for the Kentucky Derby was never going to be subtle, with over 165,000 people attending I had to pick something that would stand out. I made a giant rose headpiece that matched the Kentucky Derby theme. The Kentucky Derby is known as the “Run for the Roses” because a lush blanket of 554 red roses is awarded to the Kentucky Derby winner each year.

As soon as I walked in I was asked for my first television interview, from then on I was constantly photographed by the professional photographers or random racegoers. I met so many wonderful warm charming people, Southern Hospitality is not a myth. I was also interviewed for NBC and Local WAVE TV Station and the Fashion at the Races, see video below.

Overall it was an amazing experience and would recommend it to anyone, it is a real party atmosphere with vibrant outfits on all the ladies and surprisingly some of the best outfits were worn by the men!! I’ll be back.

Carol Kennelly