It’s that time of year – Derby season in Louisville. Whether we like it or not basketball is behind us and now, save for a quick pause for Spring Break, it’s all about preparing for Derby week. For me, Derby week is my favorite time to be in Louisville. I love everything about the festivities which is going to make it especially rough for me to watch from the sidelines this year (I’ll be 39 weeks pregnant when the Run for the Roses goes off). But I’m still excited to follow along (more than likely from my couch – scrolling rabidly through Instagram) and can’t wait to kick off my Derby season at next week’s Macy’s Kentucky Derby Festival Spring Fashion Show.
For today’s Creative Louisville, we’re getting a behind the scenes look at Louisville’s biggest and longest running fashion show with the lady organizing it all, Christine Fellingham. Not only is Christine the producer behind the premiere Derby fashion event but she is also the Editor-in-Chief of HerScene Magazine and the Fashion Editor at the Courier-Journal. No doubt, if you live in Louisville you’ve seen her stylings on a runway, a magazine page or on the pages of the CJ.
Christine has a lot of on her plate right now especially in the last week of preparations for next week’s Macy’s Kentucky Derby Festival Spring Fashion Show. The event will feature more than 25 models and upwards of 150 Derby-ready looks from more than a dozen local boutiques, Macy’s and other local shops. Think dresses, jumpsuits, two-piece sets (my new fave), hats and everything else in between that you’ll be wanting to add to your closet. The show takes place next Thursday, March 31st at Horseshoe Casino and if you want to come and check out all the spring fashions, you can snag tickets at kdf.org or by calling 502.584.FEST. Table seats are $65 and lounge area tickets are $35. I’ll be there and would love to bump into a few of you while making my mental check list of things to buy post-baby.
In the meantime, here’s a look behind the scenes at the preparations for the show along with some insider info from the lady behind it all.
* Name: Christine Fellingham
* Company + Event: Courier-Journal and Her Scene Magazine + the Kentucky Derby Festival Fashion Show
* Title: Editor-in-chief of Her Scene magazine, Fashion Editor at the Courier and Producer of the KDF Fashion show
* How did you first get involved with the KDF Fashion Show? It was a natural next-step in the relationship between the CJ and the KDF. We talked about it for a few years but couldn’t figure out how I’d make the time since I’m kind of knee-deep in production of our Derby issue. But I love a challenge. And I also love the fact that the show involves a live audience. As a writer and editor, I don’t usually get that interaction and immediate response from my readers. It’s intimidating in a way, but also exhilarating. So, after thinking about it for a while, five years ago, I decided I wanted to take the plunge. I’m so glad I did. We’ve kind of taken on more and more work every year, but when we see it come together and watch the audience have a great time, it is the greatest high.
* What is inspiring you for this year’s show? The creativity of this season’s spring fashion collections. Jumpsuits. Rompers. Beautiful sleeves. Culottes….! It’s a big idea season full of fun and surprisingly flattering fashion risks. I’m looking to prod people out of their comfort zones.
* What three words describe your work best: I’d say that I try to make my work original, memorable and meaningful, as weird as that may sound for a fashion writer. The reason I love my work isn’t even so much that I love clothes. It’s that I love what clothes can do for people. I look at clothes as a means of expressing who you are to the rest of the world and I try to encourage other people to look at them that way… not so much as status symbols. Fashion is a tool you can use to package yourself in a way that feels right and makes you more effective.
* One thing about you that might surprise people: I’m pinned and taped together on more days than I’d like to admit.
* Why Louisville? So many people end up leaving Louisville, what helped keep you in or bring you back to the 502?: Well, I did leave. But I came back. I worked in New York City at Glamour and O: The Oprah Winfrey Magazine for over a decade. I wouldn’t have missed it. I learned a lot from that experience—both professionally and personally. I got to hone my craft and develop a deep appreciation for what we have here.
* Favorite Louisville Neighborhood: It depends on the day and my mood. Bardstown Road will always feel like a nostalgia trip for me because back in high school, I spent a lot of time at Tewligan’s and Another Place Sandwich Shop… and that should really date me. I’ve always loved the feeling of Bardstown Road— it’s definitely its own little ecosystem with a singular aesthetic and culture and I love that. But I like to switch it up. I’ll do Nulu for lunch and Frankfort Ave for drinks and Middletown for breakfast. Let’s just say that one of my favorite things about Louisville is that we have these distinct, thriving neighborhoods. Other people may have their favorites, I’m just glad they’re all here. The mix is what makes Louisville a place I wanted to come back to.
* Favorite Spot for a Drink: Sea Hag or Village Anchor for the patio. Kevin Grangier—another local who left and returned—is brilliant at everything he does. He’s made the Anchor a great little hub. And where else do they bring throw blankets out on chilly nights? Artesano is great for tapas and tequila drinks if you’re feeling social. And, again, a perfect patio. Late night for me it’s Selena’s at Willow Lake Tavern. It’s a laid back, neighborhood bar that’s close to home. And I love the baked brie appetizer. Depending on whom I’m drinking with, Garage Bar out front, 8 Up for the perfect rooftop patio, Silver Dollar and Marketplace Restaurant at Theater Square because it has this great little outdoor oasis you wouldn’t expect. That’s just my list today.
* Favorite Lunch Spot: Toast. It’s lively, laid back and it has something for everyone. The baby spinach salad with blue cheese and bacon (hold the hard boiled egg for me) makes me happy. So does the grilled Caprese sandwich.
* Favorite Dinner Spot: I couldn’t even pretend to have a favorite place. I like Doc Crowe for the whiskey row ambiance, fresh seafood and fabulous bourbon selection. All of my favorite drink spots have great dinner menus too. I find it hard to drink without the option of eating really good food if I get into that second round.
* Favorite Festival: I’d have to say the Derby Festival. I love the fact that it takes a one day event and turns it into a season that everyone in this city can get involved in. I’ve done coffee and juice in the car with the kids at the balloon race (then breakfast at Toast). We’ve done Thunder parties overlooking the, the balloon glow with kids and cousins in tow… and boat race parties on the river and the East End. That pre-Derby season is such a uniquely Louisville experience. You miss it when you move away. It’s the perfect kick off to spring.
* Favorite Pizza Spot: As someone whose roots are in New York, I am consistently amazed at the number of good local pizza places we support. I love pizza and go through phases. Right now, I’m happy with Coals because one opened near me in Middletown. Their Waverly pizza with gorgonzola and fig jam is a little fancy, but delicious. The St Matthews, a classic perfect Margherita, is also yummy. And there’s nothing wrong with a Spinelli’s mushroom pizza on a Friday night.
* You must go to…: the new Speed. With this redesign, they’ve truly reimagined what a museum can be. It makes me proud to be a Louisvillian.
* If someone is visiting from out of town and only has time to go to three places, where do you send them? I hate to name just one local retail spot but I’d have to say Butchertown Market. You can browse the always-interesting mix of decor, accessories and cool gifts at Work the Metal, wander into Moss Hill for a Mint Julep scrub and then into Cellar Door for bourbon balls. I think Churchill is also a must if it’s during a meet. If it’s not, it’s worth a trip down to the Kentucky Derby Museum just to see the twin spires and get a crash course in the history. Then, I’d have to send them to dinner someplace local that will fit their particular food preferences but also kill any Kentucky stereotypes they may be buying into. So that is completely guest-dependent. It could be Milkwood… or Seviche… or Harvest… or Wilshire… or 610 Magnolia or Le Relais or Meat. I just make sure they get to one restaurant that shows what we can do here.
JUST THE KDF FASHION SHOW
* The Kentucky Derby Festival Fashion Show is one of the first festival events of the year and can set the tone for the season. What can people expect at this year’s event? What theme or trend can people expect to see? Expect a fast-moving style spectacle that will include a full spectrum of looks– from new twists on American classics to updated bohemian chic to high-drama modernism. We’ll have incredible hats and headpieces, some surprise live performances and close to one hundred and fifty outfits. Expect to want to go shopping.
* Hat or Fascinator? Definitely fascinator.
* When planning a Derby look, what comes first – the dress or the hat? Either one. Fall in love first then make the rest work. It can work either way, but you have to feel it or you won’t wear it w
* How is the KDF Fashion Show different from other local fashion events? It’s the biggest, longest, longest running show that involves more boutiques and retailers than any other one in town. Everything you see can be purchased locally. It’s both entertainment and practical information… it’s a form of runway info-tainment.
* Have you picked out your Derby look yet? Of course not. Editor’s note: A girl after my own heart!
* Any other insider details or sneak peeks that you can share about this year’s show? The headpieces will be incredible…. I’m expecting audible gasps. And we’re showcasing more newsy dress alternatives for the track and everyplace else you have to go this season. Expect to walk out with a wish list of surprising items you are now dying to try on. And we’re using our male models in more creative ways. We’re going to have a blast.
Now that you’ve got the scoop, don’t forget to grab tickets for the Macy’s Kentucky Derby Festival Spring Fashion Show here.
Images: Scott Utterback/Courier-Journal
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by the Kentucky Derby Festival. As always, all opinions, commentary and ramblings are my own.