All Derby hats are NOT created equal. Every Derby season, you see a selection of hats and fascinators in every corner of Louisville, even the grocery store! While you can find your Kentucky Derby hat at nearly any outlet or price point, only a few are real works of art. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit a true hat wonderland, Formé Millinery, which elevates hat-making to an art form!
Formé’s owner, Jenny Pfanenstiel, blocks all her hats by hand using vintage hat forms and a 19th century braiding machine. Every nook and cranny of her shop is simply delightful! And, oh my goodness, are Formé hats unique and gorgeous!!
Jenny majored in fashion design in college, and soon became fascinated with the art of millinery. After learning to hand-make hats by molding straw or wool over wool hat forms. Soon, Jenny found herself making an annual six-week trek from Chicago to Louisville every year to sell her creations for Derby season. Eventually, she moved here and became one of the premier designers for high-end Derby looks. In fact, Formé is now the official milliner of the Kentucky Derby Museum.
Of course, the Derby-ready hats and fascinators were unbelievably beautiful, but I was simply captivated by the vintage-style wool hats as well. Jenny’s designs channel so many 1920s and ‘30s vibes, and I am here for it. (And did I mention that she carries a full line of men’s hats as well?)
Jenny has partnered with one of my very favorite brands, Vineyard Vines, to create a lovely line of Kentucky Derby fascinators. There’s even a fascinator that benefits the Norton Cancer Institute! My friends at Vineyard Vines were kind enough to send me a piece from this limited-edition collection; I absolutely love it!!
Dress c/o Draper James; Fascinator c/o Vineyard Vines
Thanks so much to Vineyard Vines for working with me on this post, and to Jenny Pfanenstiel for taking the time to talk shop with me! Happy Derby, y’all!!