If you’ve spent a Derby season in Louisville, you’re probably familiar with the Kentucky Derby Princesses. You may not be as familiar with the women behind this tradition – The Fillies. Founded in 1959, The Fillies is a women’s group whose members are dedicated to supporting the Kentucky Derby Festival which includes sponsoring the Fillies Derby Ball, the Children’s Tea, creating the Queen’s float for the Pegasus Parage, publishing the Festival’s Official Program and managing the Royal Court Program. As you can imagine, they’re busy this time of year.
In between all of this, they also host an annual Fashion Show for their members, friends and the Royal Court. Despite my extreme fondness for all things Derby and some familiarity with the Derby Princesses, I admit that I didn’t know much about The Fillies. Although I found this tidbit about the original membership qualifications pretty interesting, “The only rules of membership at the time were for all ladies to work on the ball, further the fame of Kentucky and place a $2 bet on any filly entered in the Derby.” All that changed when they invited me to join them as they prepared for the annual fashion show.
I met up with the ladies at Tunie’s in Westport Village where a group of the ladies were picking out looks for the show. Unlike other Derby Fashion Shows, this one isn’t dedicated solely to Derby looks instead they showcase a mix of Derby-ready outfits along with a variety of spring styles from nine local boutiques. After talking to members Kristen Miller and Fashion Show Chair Suzann Thomspon, you get a feeling that this show ends up being a little more laid-back and fun. Kristen mentioned with a wink that cocktails may be involved and that ladies have been known to stand up and claim looks as they go down the runway. Think a mimosa lunch with shopping and girlfriends – not a bad way to spend a Thursday.
As the ladies shopped for looks, tried on various outfits and nailed down final selections I got the chance to get the full story behind The Fillies. Two things struck me from all of my conversations. First off, they were all incredibly friendly and welcoming. A lot of times we gals can be known to be a little stand-offish in groups but that was not the case. And despite being different ages, personalities, and style they all shared that same inviting personality. Every one of the women was eager to tell me about their experience with the group and how much they enjoy being a Filly. That brings me to the second thing which was how committed and involved they all were.
I got a chance to speak with Shannon Adkins, the chair of the Princess program, who moved here from West Virginia and joined the Fillies as a way to get involved in the community while meeting people. Fourteen years later, she’s just as dedicated. And that same sentiment carried over to each woman I spoke to. I say this from pure observation but if you’re looking for a way to get involved in the community while also joining a community of women, this group is it.
Also, if you have a little girl in your life, you may want to consider taking her to The Children’s Tea on April 30th. Held annually it’s a chance for little princesses (and princes) to dress up and attend a tea with the Derby Queens and Princesses. There’s arts and crafts, a fancy tea and a chance to channel their inner Gigi by walking down the runway after a ‘mini’ makeover in the nail and makeup boutique. They’ll also go home with a gift bag that includes a piece of jewelry from Davis Jewelers. I’m thinking Reese may need to attend since she is obsessed with all things princess. Tickets are $35 per person and can be purchased here.
If you’re interested in learning more about membership to The Fillies, contact Shari Broecker at email@example.com