Thursday, July 25, 2024

New exhibit honors 150 years of Derby fashion

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — From hats to bow ties, fashion has played an integral role in the Kentucky Derby’s 150-year history. 


What You Need To Know

  • The Kentucky Derby Museum unveiled “See & Be Seen: 150 Years of Derby Fashion” Wednesday, July 10 
  • The exhibit takes guests through the evolution of Derby fashion trends, with 32 ensembles dating as far back as the 1860s 
  • It aims to represent every type of Derby-goer, said Chris Goodlett, director of curatorial and educational affairs 
  • Visitors can find the exhibit on the museum’s second floor, and it is included with a general admission ticket 


The museum unveiled “See & Be Seen: 150 Years of Derby Fashion” Wednesday, July 10, taking guests through decades of Derby fashion, with 32 ensembles dating as far back as the 1860s. 

Chris Goodlett, director of curatorial and educational affairs, said the exhibit comes from years of research and aims to represent every type of Derby-goer. It includes artifacts from the Kentucky Derby Museum Permanent Collection, the Kentucky Historical Society, the Filson Historical Society, the Kentucky Science Center and private lenders. 

“We hope that guests see themselves in this collection,” he said. “From the extravagant to the casual to the ‘do-it-yourselfer,’ there’s truly something that speaks to everyone.”

The museum also launched a public fashion contest in 2023 and said some of its winners now have their ensembles and accessories on display. Winners were invited to the ribbon-cutting, where they were honored for their donations and museum staff presented them with a sash, a nod to European racing fashion contest traditions.

Guests who visit the exhibit for the rest of July will have the chance to enter a drawing to win a Derby Fashion and Hat workshop for a group of four.

“See & Be Seen: 150 Years of Derby Fashion” was intentionally opened this summer to carry the excitement of Derby 150 all year long, the museum said. 

“Like many things in life, we know that fashion repeats itself over time,” said Derby Museum President and CEO Pat Armstrong. “You can see the parallels to the past in the winning contest submissions, and that speaks to the longevity and phenomenon that is the Kentucky Derby.”

The temporary exhibit is on the museum’s second floor and is included with a general admission ticket. Derby Museum staff said it will pave the way to a permanent exhibit set to open in 2025 ahead of its 40th anniversary. 

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