For many casual observers, the real show at the Kentucky Derby is the parade of hats (although, for the record, jockey Javier Castellano and 3-year-old colt Mage won on Sunday). The official dress code even acknowledges this: “What sets the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks apart from other sports and entertainment events? Is it the world-class horses? The Hollywood stars? The romantic Twin Spires? Well, first and foremost, it’s the hats!”
At the 149th edition of the race this past weekend, the headwear certainly did not disappoint. While across the pond in England, the best fascinators and chapeaus were out at the coronation of King Charles III, those in Louisville, Kentucky, were a bit bolder and brasher (at least in the general-admission infield; attire was a bit more classic in the seated sections).
Color was the name of the game, with shades of magenta, violet, and kelly green abounding. Although subtlety is not normally a winning formula on Derby Day, one spectator opted for a charming black fascinator with a miniature veil, while a mother-daughter duo embraced coordinating mint green toppers. Yet when you head down to the Kentucky Derby, what you really hope to see is a wide-brimmed hat with a racecourse of its own on the brim—and luckily for us, that was there, too. Below, photographer Lili Kobielski captures all the best hats of the 2023 Derby.
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