The Crafting of the “Little Mike” Chapeau for Old Friends

For the eighth consecutive year, Old Friends and MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® are teaming up for our “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby” hat auction series that benefits the retired racehorses of Dream Chase Farm.

This month we are featuring the “Little Mike” chapeau. This one-of-a-kind couture Derby hat created by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® honors 2012 Breeders Cup Turf and Arlington Million winner, Little Mike, who retired to Old Friends in 2016.

littlemike-hat-a-web-med
littlemike-equisportphotos-3crop-web-med Jockey Chris Landeros and his wife Shelby modeling the “Little Mike” hat at Old Friends.[/caption]

Named after owner Carlo Vaccarezza’s son, Little Mike was sired by Spanish Steps out of the mare Hay June whom Vaccarezza had rescued from the kill pen. To learn more about this great Florida-bred gelding who was bred by  Carlo Vaccarezza, owned by his wife Priscilla and trained for most of his career by Dale Romans, please visit the Little Mike webpage.

littlemike-laurabattles-10-framed-web-medWhen I asked Beth Shannon, volunteer at Old Friends, her impression of Little Mike she responded, “Little Mike is also an exceptionally kind horse. It took him all of fifteen minutes to figure out exactly what tours were all about. He gets along as easily with his new paddock mate Interwin as he does with people. His color isn’t flashy. He’s just a medium bay horse. But he’s got the look of the athlete he is. Of course, he was by far the best longer distance turf male in America in 2012, the year he won the Arlington Million and Breeders’ Cup Turf.”

littlemike-laurabattles-1-framed-web-medAnd she added, “ The only thing Little Mike isn’t, is little. He’s good sized and nicely proportioned. What’s not to love about such a sweet horse?”

littlemike-laurabattles-8-framed-web-medClearly, a very special hat was needed to honor this new retiree of Old Friends. The resulting hat design showcases Little Mike’s stunning bay coat, his familiar racing silk colors of black with orange stripes, and his kind spirit and athleticism.

To begin the design process I went online and watched videos of Little Mike’s wins on the track, and soon I had the background information that I needed.

littlemike-hat-process1-web-medNext, a sketch of the hat was made, fabrics were chosen and the creative process was underway!

littlemike-hat-process2-web-medThe foundation of the “Little Mike” hat was fashioned as a flat oval brim design created out of black dupioni silk.

littlemike-hat-f-web-medThe edge of the brim was trimmed with a unique ruffled brim edge which allows light to pass through the sheer fabric. Created out of a single layer of black silk organza, the resulting look is one of smooth elegance befitting this great Thoroughbred athlete.

littlemike-hat-process3-web-medAs a finishing touch, a fancy braiding of warm mocha chocolate was top stitched where the silk and organza layers meet the brim edge.

littlemike-hat-process4-web-medCarlo Vaccarezza’s distinctive black with orange stripe racing silks provided the basic color palette for the trimmings of this stunning Derby hat.

The centerpiece is comprised of a single medium rose curl created in swirling layers of coral orange shantung and organza. A shimmering espresso button accents the center, a clear reflection of Little Mike’s soft brown eyes.

littlemike-hat-process5-web-medThe rose was beautifully framed with a medley of leaves fashioned out of black silk organza.

littlemike-hat-process6-web-medMocha brown hat veiling was set behind the rose curl and leaves to offer a contrasting flourish with a touch of wispy elegance.

Ten slender black, chocolate brown and chocolate brown silk organza “feathers” were then gracefully shaped to help balance the trim design.

littlemike-hat-process7-web-medA layered sash, created out of black satin lined with coral orange shantung, was created to encircle the crown of the hat.

littlemike-hat-process8-web-medFor the finishing touch, a large black pebble button was hand stitched to the back of the hat.

littlemike-hat-process9-web-medFinally, the lining was created from a swirling black brocade to coordinate with the trims.

littlemike-hat-process10-web-medThe finished “Little Mike” hat design measures over 24 inches across inclusive of the ruffled organza brim layer.

As a physical remembrance of Little Mike, several strands of his tail hair were braided and woven into the trim of the hat, creating a unique, one-of-a-kind Derby chapeau that captures Little Mike not only in spirit but in substance as well.

littlemike-hat-process12-blogThe purpose of this amazing millinery delight is to honor the life of Alphabet Soup and all of the horses who, thanks to the generosity of those who support their aftercare, now graze in the warm sunshine of Dream Chase Farm for the rest of their lives.

littlemike-laurabattles-11-framed-medSoon the hat was on its way to Old Friends for the grand photo shoot with our models. And from all that I have heard,  they had one heck of a good time!

littlemike-equisportphotos-2crop-web-medFor a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the photo shoot, please visit the video footage provided by EquiSport Photos.

We want to extend a big thank you to jockey Chris Landeros and his lovely wife, Shelby, who were splendid models for the “Little Mike” chapeau as well as to Matt and Wendy Wooley of EquiSport Photos who worked their photographic magic once again. The dress that Bella Rose Clothing Boutique, Lexington, Kentucky furnished for Shelby matched the chapeau beautifully. Our thanks to all of you!

The “Little Mike” auction hat is now up for bid on EBay and bidding ends February 11th at 8 PM EST.

Please also enjoy this slideshow of the “Little Mike” chapeau and the horse who inspired it. For more information about the “Little Mike” Chapeau please visit the Little Mike hat webpage. To read more about Little Mike, the horse, please visit the Little Mike webpage.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We’d also like to mention an exciting new social media campaign that we are introducing for Season 8 called, “Friends of Old Friends”.

A number of Thoroughbred horse farms and racing organizations across the country were invited to join in the effort by helping us share the Hats Off auction publicity through their own social media channels. We hope that these wonderful Friends of Old Friends will enable us to expand the audience for “Hats Off to the Horses” as well as to generate greater concern for all horses everywhere.

The following is our “Friends of Old Friends” poster for sharing our second auction hat, inspired by  Little Mike.

We extend a big thank you to all of the Friends of Old Friends that are participating and sharing the word about Hats Off to the Horses!

oldfriends-friendsofoldfriends-february2017-littlemikeposter2-web-medThank you for visiting Hats and Horses, and here’s to our best auction season yet!

Sally

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Hats Off to Little Mike of Old Friends!

The 2017 “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby” for Old Friends is well underway with our second hat of the season, the “Little Mike”!

littlemike-equisportphotos-3crop-web-medIf you would like to bid on the “Little Mike” chapeau please place your bid at this link on EBay.

Bidding ends Saturday, February 11th at 8 PM EST.

To learn more about Little Mike, the horse, please visit the Little Mike webpage. For more information about the “Alphabet Soup” Chapeau please visit the Little Mike hat webpage.

Thank you for supporting Old Friends!

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