I am proud to say that I created the hat worn by a Kentucky Derby winner, specifically, Mary Ellen Bonomo, owner of "Always Dreaming", the horse who won the 143rd Kentucky Derby.
You may be wondering how I was able to do that. Did I hang around the race horses or sauntering around the horse stalls in my big flower fascinators? As everything goes in my life, it was a matter of luck and chance.
Unless you are a milliner you will not know that the two weeks before Kentucky Derby are extremely hectic. Customers have placed orders, which are being picked up, last minute celebrities are walking through the door, and people are shopping for Kentucky Derby parties. Basically, it is mayhem.
Within this madness I received a call from Mary Ellen Bonomo, who told me.
“I am sooo late! And me with a horse in the race.”
I did not think about her horse, I told her she was not late, and we could still make her hat. We scheduled for a 8:30 am Sunday morning appointment, which was at this point the week before Derby.
I had been putting in fifteen hour days for weeks, and doing hourly mental gymnastics about other orders ( “Will the straw match the yellow dress?”, “Will Fedex get the box there on time” etc.) so I was operating in the moment, as I learned from my meditation practice.
Mary Ellen arrived in my Orchard Street store. She was the cutest, nicest lady. She proceeded to order a big cream hat with a giant blush pink silk cabbage rose. I told her I would have it ready for her the following Wednesday.
When she came in that day for her fitting a friend who was with her told me,
“Mary Ellen is in The Post today. They favor her horse to win”.
He went out and got me The Post, and there it was. The Post had picked her horse,“Always Dreaming” to win the 143rd Kentucky Derby.
’Wow, that’s cool” I said. She loved everything that I had made and took it with her. I was happy and moved onto the next job.
Finally, after all of the chocolate, coffee and late night sewing watching “Mad Men”, I had arrived at Derby Day. I was busy with clients coming in for parties, and was not thinking about the race. When I got home my Mom called me and said,
“I think your horse won, turn on the TV!”.
When I did there was Mary Ellen on the screen in my hat with it’s giant rose, being interviewed after Always Dreaming had won the race! What a blast!
She was such an elegant lady, and so nice. The icing on the cake is that now my hat is part of the permanent collection in the Kentucky Derby Museum. In NYC anything can happen. Hooray!