US Hat Events: May 2019

Following pop culture and fashion events can be a great source of inspiration and keep you up to date on current millinery trends. In America, we recently had two of our biggest hat wearing events of the year, just days apart. The Kentucky Derby in Louisville and the Met Gala in New York City. These two very different US hat events showcased a huge variety of fashion and styling trends.

The Kentucky Derby

There are dozens of stakes races in America leading up to the Kentucky Derby. The most attended horse race in the country, it is the first leg of the Triple Crown and is followed by the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. The tradition of wearing hats at the Derby dates back to 1875. It stems from a combination of the Southern cultural tradition of wearing hats to church and the influence of British racing fashion.

The size and flamboyance of Kentucky Derby hats have grown with time. Today, large brimmed, over the top hats are the staple headwear for women attending this US hat event. Many men wear crazy, creative headwear as well. Roses are often incorporated into the designs, as a garland of red roses is placed on the winning horse. This is where the Kentucky Derby slogan, ‘Run for the Roses,’ comes from.

hat brim edge with millinery wire

The Kentucky Derby is the inspiration for celebrations and events all around the United States. It is the busiest time of year for most American milliners and Derby hat fashions are covered by mainstream media outlets like Forbes.

The Met Gala

Another high profile US hat event, the Met Gala is an annual fundraiser benefit for the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It is an annual celebration to open the museum’s new fashion exhibition each year. Guests are asked to base their outfits on the theme of the new exhibition. For 2019, this was CAMP, Notes on Fashion.

The biggest stars are always in attendance and come wearing the most contemporary and creative fashions, including incredible headwear. As reported in Vogue, Stephen Jones made more than 150 headpieces for the Met’s current exhibition. He also dressed the heads of many high profile guests, in all levels of opulence and extravagance, including A-List celebrities like Cardi B (pictured at the top of the page). The rapper wore one of Jones’ ruby crystal bejeweled head caps to complement her textured, flowing gown.

US Hat Events: Janelle Monae at the 2019 Met Gala, Getty Images

One of the most incredible pieces at this year’s Met Gala was a stack of hats worn by Janelle Monáe (above), who is a regular hat wearer. Created by Brooklyn milliner Sarah Sokol, Monáe’s Picasso inspired look was one of the most successful interpretations of the theme in my opinion. You can find out more about how Sokol created this interesting piece for the US hat event in an interview she did with Business Insider.

One of the best things about being a milliner is working with an ever-changing medium. From materials to techniques, there are always new areas of creativity to explore. The formal tradition of women’s hat making is increasingly becoming a popular and recognized art form. It is always exciting to see what these big fashion events put out there. Staying in touch with fashion events around the world through social media and publications is a great way to find inspiration for your own unique millinery designs.

About the Author

Amy Fowler

Amy Fowler is the creator of the bespoke, California-based ‘Millinery by Amy Fowler’ label. In 2014, her love of hat making and desire to expand her skills and studio inspired Amy to start her own millinery supplies business, Humboldt Haberdashery.

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