The 147th Kentucky Derby was held on May 1, 2021, in Louisville, Kentucky. And that meant hats and more hats. Just ask Christine Moore.
As the owner of Christine A. Moore Millinery, Moore has been creating hats professionally for over twenty years. They are considered works of art.
Moore is the featured milliner of the 144th, 145th, 146 and 147th Kentucky Derbys. She is also the official milliner of the Breeders' Cup, America’s Best Racing and Iroquois Steeplechase. But this beloved go-to milliner is not based in Kentucky. She is located in New York City.
After studying costume design and fine arts in college Moore worked as a costume designer in many theatrical costume shops. Inspired by a love of sculpture and costume, she continued to morph the art forms until she found she really loved hats. “Millinery also combines my passion for both sales and working with people,” says Moore. “I was enticed by the thought of becoming a leader and creating a name for myself in this very specific industry.”
In 1994, Moore founded Christine A. Moore Millinery in New York City. She became known for her outrageously fabulous hats, two of which are in the Kentucky Derby Museum Some of the many celebrities who have worn her hats include Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez, Mary J. Blige and Kate Upton.
Moore’s creations have also appeared on TV in the shows Nashville, Gossip Girl and The Carrie Diaries. “Celebrity customers often seek ways to incorporate their own unique looks into a hat design in a way that complements Derby style, rather than conflicting or getting lost,” says Moore.
Now that spring is here, Belmont Stakes are this June 5 and events are happening, expect to see more hats. Moore offered her best hat guidance and insight into her world.
Jeryl Brunner: When did you know that hats would play such a huge part of your career?
Christine Moore: My “ah-ha” moment when I realized my love for this craft was when I met a professional milliner for the first time at the Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia. After that, I moved to New York City to assist milliner Rodney Gordon in the 1990s. And under his great supervision, I created hats for many opera, ballet and Broadway productions including The Phantom of the Opera, The Will Rogers Follies, Crazy for You, and many more.
Jeryl Brunner: Why do you love creating hats?
Christine Moore: I am continuously inspired by the many opportunities that come with hats being 3-D and multidimensional. Not only is each hat a work of art, but also functional and collaborative with other fashion mediums.
Jeryl Brunner: What is the best way to pick your hat?
Christine Moore: Find a style that accentuates your face shape. For rounder face shapes, an angular or asymmetrical style hatinator/fascinator Disk shapes highlight the cheekbones and balances out the natural curvature of the face .For oval face shapes go for wide brim hat styles which are best for balancing out face length.
For square face shapes, slouchy Derby hats styles such as soft berets or simple fascinators with feminine accents are best. Since heart-shaped faces are the most versatile, any styles that aren’t too wide or too slouchy are best for highlighting that delicate shape. Try a Southern hat with a flared brim and low crown or a hatinator that’s slanted to the side.
Comfort is critical. Make sure you choose something that feels good on your head.
Jeryl Brunner: Can you break down the hat basics?
Christine Moore: The most iconic headpiece for the Kentucky Derby is the oversized Southern belle hat. This hat is often saturated in hue and features a wide brim that spans across the forehead and can be tipped to the side for a more sophisticated look.
Hatinator and fascinator styles are predominantly worn for Oaks Day (the day before Derby), posing a modern day take on the more lavish hat styles. Fascinators are typically small to medium in size and attached to the head by a headband or comb. While hatinators are larger and sit on a headband. Both are highly regarded for their structured shape, which is often topped off with playful elements, including ornamental appliqués, netting or feathers.
Jeryl Brunner: How do you know which colors suit you best?
Christine Moore: When styling your ensemble, it is important to take into account how your pieces will play off one another, rather than visualizing them separately. In terms of the hat, either select a style that includes a blend of colors to complement your dress, or a neutral tone with simple accents.
Color pairings for Spring include green/yellow, pink/blue, purple/orange or coral/turquoise. Pink is still a crowd favorite for Oaks Day, as the event is put on in support of breast cancer awareness, while reds are popularly sported on Derby day, as the event is known as the “Run for the Roses.” Typically, if you are someone who likes an added flair to your look, the hatinator or fascinator style may be best.
Jeryl Brunner: Can you offer tips for really rocking your hat?
Christine Moore: Regardless of which hat style you choose, there are a couple tricks everyone should know when styling their look. If you’re rocking a hatinator/fascinator, wear it to the side you part your hair on to add depth and symmetry to balance your natural face shape.
If you are sporting a traditional hat, ensure the brim rests right above your eyebrows and not on the back of your head. Again, if you are looking to add symmetry to your look, wear it with a slight angle to either the left or right side.