The Art of Making a Kentucky Derby Hat

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Taking over over 40 hours to make—30 hours to craft the individual petals and about 10 hours to assemble them—the style was Moore’s most expensive piece this year, priced at $5000. (The average price of her hats today is around $1100.)

In addition to White’s rosette creation, Moore—whose hats have made it across the pond to Britain’s Royal Ascot—also designed the hat worn by Derby’s National Anthem performer and five-time Grammy winner Wynonna Judd.

Photographed by Lili Kobielski

“I do the swirled top hats, which I learned to do with Rodney Gordon,” Moore says. “We made all the Phantom of the Opera top hats which were the traditional swirl. There are very few milliners that actually can do that,” Moore says, noting that Judd is wearing one of her signature top hat designs.

The Derby is understandably one of Moore’s busiest times of year. For the annual event, her millinery goes through about 700 yards of silk and, like White’s design, can create hats with 50 or more petal pieces that are hand sewn together. “Since starting my business in 1994, we have sewn over 30,000 labels into my hats,” she says. Additionally, the milliner works to use every ounce of fabric sourced for her designs, which are reworn and passed down through generations.

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