For the eighth consecutive year MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® and Old Friends have teamed up for a unique online shopping experience called “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby”!
This year our unique Derby hat fundraiser begins on January 1st and continues all the way to the Derby. An annual event, it features one-of-a-kind couture Derby hats created by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® to benefit the retired racehorses of Old Friends.
We are delighted to introduce a new group of models for our “Hats Off to the Horses” chapeaux this season! Please welcome Jon, Krystal and Aubrey Court who helped modeling the “Alphabet Soup” chapeau for this first auction that started January 1st.
The first hat up for bid in our auction series honors Pennsylvania-bred Alphabet Soup, winner of the 1996 Breeders’ Cup with a stunning victory over the great racehorse, Cigar. To learn more about this champion, please visit the Alphabet Soup webpage.
When I asked Beth Shannon, volunteer at Old Friends, her impression of Alphabet Soup, she responded, “Oh, I can’t say too much about the kindness, the beauty, the personality of our wonderful Soup! In the 1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic he and Louis Quatorze caught and passed the horse who’d been on the lead, Cigar was coming up like a cannonball, and Alphabet Soup gave it all he had, pushing his nose out on front of them all. It was one of the most exciting Classic finishes in Breeders’ Cup history!”
And she added, “He’s not only kind, he’s smart and fun to be around. His other striking quality, besides his spirit, is his athleticism. He keeps himself fit–he’s ruggedly gorgeous–and he glories in his speed at 17 as he did at 3.”
Right from the start I could see that a dramatic hat design was required for to reflect Alphabet Soup’s stunning pearl-white coat, his familiar racing silk colors of orange-red and sage green, and his proud spirit and athleticism.
As always, I went online and watched videos of Alphabet Soup’s wins on the track, and before I knew it I had the background information that I needed.
Next, a sketch of the hat was made, fabrics were chosen and the creative process was underway!
The foundation of the “Alphabet Soup” hat was fashioned as a curved wide brim design created out of pearl-white dupioni silk.
A fancy grey braiding was hand stitched to the outer edge of the underbrim to reflect Alphabet Soup’s dark mane and tail when he was a young colt.
Yards of shimmering white and grey tulle were swirled together and layered around the crown, providing a bed for the roses that is wispy and elegant. It also reflects the color palette of Alphabet Soup’s changing coat over the years.
And the Alphabet Soup hat is covered in Derby ROSES!
Inspired by the traditional Derby rose…
Each rose cluster, made up of three individual roses, was created in alternating layers of red China silk and silk organza.
The rose clusters were then framed with a medley of leaves fashioned out of tarragon green organza and sage crinkle organza, accented with sage green French ribbons.
A sash, created out of deep olive green taffeta lined with tomato red taffeta, encircles the crown of the hat.
One more rose-and-leaves cluster adorns the back of the hat.
And for the finishing touch, a large pewter pebble button adorns the back seam.
The “Alphabet Soup” hat is stunning from every angle with no details left untouched. The lining was created from a silver roses brocade to coordinate with the trims.
The finished “Alphabet Soup” hat design measures over 23 inches across inclusive of the tulle.
As a physical remembrance of Alphabet Soup, 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 Alphabet Soup not only in spirit but in substance as well.
The 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.
Soon 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!
For 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 Krystal, Jon and Aubrey Court who were splendid models for the Alphabet Soup 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 Krystal matched the chapeau beautifully. Our thanks to all of you!
The “Alphabet Soup” auction hat is now up for bid on EBay and bidding ends January 11th at 8 PM EST.
Please also enjoy this slideshow of the “Alphabet Soup” chapeau and the horse who inspired it. For more information about the “Alphabet Soup” Chapeau please visit the Alphabet Soup hat webpage.
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 first auction hat, inspired by the 1996 Breeders’ Cup winner, Alphabet Soup.
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!
Thank you for visiting Hats and Horses, and here’s to our best auction season yet!