Creating a hat to honor a living Thoroughbred athlete is not as easy as it may sound. Yet for six months out of the year this is my challenge and privilege as I create chapeaux to honor six amazing horses of Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement in Kentucky during our “Hats Off to the Horses” Derby hat fundraiser.
From the outset I study photographs and race videos, and most especially ask those at Old Friends who care for the horses every day what makes each one special. As I work I don’t see just hats; I see Mixed Pleasure, Genuine Reward, Yankee Fourtune, Amazombie and Silver Charm.
Over time their spirits, their magnificent athletic beauty and their inspiring personal stories get stitched, layered and woven into each and every hat.
And now, this month, I see War Emblem.
War Emblem was retired from stud duty in Japan in 2015 and arrived at Dream Chase Farm in September 2015 thanks to the Yoshida family, the staff of Shadai Stallion Station, Emanuel de Seroux and the many supporters who generously enabled his retirement.
I asked Beth Shannon, volunteer at Old Friends, her impression of War Emblem and she responded, “War Emblem is smart, proud, and fiercely independent. He’s extremely interested in all that goes on around him and everyone who’s in his immediate world. You can see him constantly watching and learning.”
Sketches were drawn, swatches collected and the creative process was underway!
The foundation of the “War Emblem” hat was fashioned as a wide brim design in black dupioni silk. A white brocade underbrim, edged with black taffeta, was added that frames the face beautifully when the wearer’s face is upturned.
The edge of the brim was trimmed with a unique ruffled brim edge which allows light to pass through the sheer fabric. Created out of black silk organza overlaid with black silk “pinstripes”, the resulting look is one of smooth elegance befitting this great Thoroughbred athlete.
As a reflection of his 2002 Triple Crown campaign, three large rose curls created out of alternating layers of white dupioni silk and silk organza with just a splash of soft yellow organza for the centers, were placed along the front crown of the hat.
For the finishing touch, a large black pebble button was set to adorn the back of the hat.
Once the bidding ends and it is time to ship the hat to the winner, several strands of his tail hair will be braided and woven into the trim of the hat, creating a unique, one-of-a-kind Derby chapeau that captures War Emblem not only in spirit but in substance as well.
Following a final inspection of the hat top to bottom here in our MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® studio and a quick photo session…
For a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the War Emblem photo shoot at Old Friends, check out the video footage below so generously provided by EquiSport Photos.
We want to extend a big thank you to Shea Leparoux and her husband, jockey Julien Leparoux who have been super models for our auction hats this season and to Matt and Wendy Wooley of EquiSport Photos who worked their video and photographic magic once again. The gorgeous dress that Bella Rose Clothing Boutique, Lexington, Kentucky furnished for Shea matched the “War Emblem” hat beautifully. Our thanks to everyone!
The “War Emblem” auction hat is up for bid from April 1st through the 11th at this EBay link; bidding ends tonight, April 11th at 8 PM EST.
Please also enjoy this slideshow of the “War Emblem” chapeau and the horse who inspired its creation.
Thank you for visiting Hats and Horses, and Hats Off to War Emblem!!