The first host of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., was determined to change the bad reputation of the racetrack in America. He wanted his event to feel like the racetracks he’d enjoyed in Europe-—upscale, fashionable, and exclusive. Clark accomplished his goal by inviting members of the upper echelon of his day, including businessmen, socialites and his key ingredient, the most stylish women of the time. The requested attire for the high-society event was Morning dress (more commonly referred to as formal day wear now), which back then consisted of a morning coat, waistcoat and formal trousers for men and an appropriate gown for women.
Lewis’s plan worked. As far Black attendees today, they too are executives, socialites, celebrities, and the fashion elite. Women and men are having fun with dressing up for the Spring affair. Here, we give a red rose to celebrities in their “morning dress” at the Derby over the years.
It’s good luck to wear a hat to the Kentucky Derby. So hats on (for Kendrick Carmouche)!