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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Claire Drury of Peacock Boutique on Hats, Post-Derby

Image of Phillip Treacy hats from herscene.com
Claire Drury, co-owner of the Peacock Boutique in Louisville, Kentucky, knows from hats. Every year in late April/early May, her Frankfort Avenue boutique is the epicenter of what can only be termed "Derby Madness"—a near-hysterical desire for hats, fascinators and other accessories that reaches fever pitch in the days before the famous Churchill Downs horse race.

Known for her curated selection of designers like Missoni, Barbara Bui, See by Chloe and Rachel Roy—not to mention hats by Phillip Treacy—what better authority to give advice on how to dress a hat this summer? We poised Ms. Drury a few questions on headwear dos and don'ts and, of course, where to score the best mint julep in town.

Lori's: Describe the weeks leading up to the Derby. What is life like in a boutique filled with hats, fascinators, an on-site designer and frantic customers?
Claire Drury: The three weeks leading up to Derby is the best time of the year at Peacock! Customers all have their own way of shopping Derby. Some do the hat first, some the dress. Either way, they all want a one-of-a-kind head piece. Custom pieces take anywhere from four to ten hours, so the in-house milliner gets booked early.

Do your customers collect Derby hats, or are they investment items that are worn year to year?
Derby is all about the hat. It's the only time of the year when women wear a hat, so our customers spend big bucks and time getting the perfect look together. Dresses come second. Unfortunately, most hats will only be worn one time to Derby by the original purchaser, but it is customary to lend a hat to a friend or out-of-town guest in following years. With so many photos being taken at the Derby, it would be a fashion faux pas to re-wear!

Is it against the fashion law to wear your hat or fascinator post-Derby? What about brunch? Weddings? Another track like Keeneland?
The new look of the fascinator is much easier to wear in the future to cocktail parties and Keeneland, mostly because they tend to can be more casual than a hat. With the popularity of headwear on the rise, I would expect to see women branching out more in the coming years, and start to give their hats a life after Derby.

During the summer months, what advice do you have for wearing sun hats or other headwear?
A swank fedora is always in season, and, while it makes a great statement, it also protects your skin from the sun. It's a win-win look. Headbands have come back into the fashion scene in a huge way in the last couple of years. Feathers, crystals, rope—anything with bling or texture goes!

Dos and don'ts when putting together an outfit that includes a hat?
  • DO keep it simple on the clothing. The hat will be the statement piece. You don't want too much going on. I prefer a solid dress for the ultimate chic look.
  • DON'T overdo it on the other accessories, and don’t be afraid to match. This is the time for matching purse, shoes and accessories.
  • Do remember: Less is more!
What is your current favorite look going into summer 2011?
My new favorite look is the nude shoe. It lengthens the leg, doesn’t distract from your outfit or hat, and looks stunning! (I have already bought at least four nude pumps and sandals this season if that tells you anything.)

Now for the really important questions: how do you make the perfect mint julep?
I've never actually made a mint julep ... YIKES!?!? They make a amazing one at Porcini, within walking distance of the Peacock (a trip we have made many times). I would also say Churchill Downs! They tend to be a little watered down at the track, but I've always had them that way in the tradition of going to the races. That's how I love them the most. :)

Peacock Boutique is located at 2828 Frankfort Avenue Louisville, KY 40206-2698 (502) 897-1158


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