Derby hats for derby day

Several Wapakoneta women gathered at Casa Chic on Wednesday night to participate in a workshop that helped them design one of the Kentucky Derby’s greatest traditions: derby hats.

The workshop was led by Suzanne Hoelscher, a St. Marys resident who has been designing unique hats for nearly 15 years.

Hoelscher said that for women, fashion is just as much a part of the Kentucky Derby as the actual race itself.

“To me, that’s the pinnacle — wearing a one-of-a-kind hat and dressing up,” she said. “The big thing where women are concerned is who has what hat on. They’re the ones who get all the attention.”

At Wednesday’s workshop, Hoelscher brought in every material one might need to create a unique derby hat. The work station she set up included different types of ribbon, satin, silk, feathers and a tray full of jewelry, among other things.

The women who participated sewed, knit and glued a combination of these materials onto a plain straw hat that Hoelscher provided. The end result was a derby hat that was unique to each woman’s personality.

“At some point it takes a turn and the hats take on a personality of their own,” Hoelscher said. “There’s a hat for every person that kind of clicks, and its that personality and hat coming together that is my reward.”

For the full story, see the Thursday, May 1 edition of the Wapakoneta Daily News.