With just a few weeks to go before May 7, time is running out to find the perfect topper for Derby and Oaks. While many Louisville boutiques stock an impressive range of choices, I've found them generally to come with equally impressive price tags. For example Luna Boutique (1310 Bardstown Road) stocks beautiful Christine A. Moore and Lisa Farrell hats ranging from about $165 for a cute small brimmed cloche to nearly $900 for the sweeping wide-brimmed variety.
I've lusted after the titanic proportioned brims of the Christine A. Moore collections of years past. And while this year’s collection feels a bit stale, I have seen only a small portion of the collection in person. After many hours online searching for something unique, beautiful and affordable, however, I finally found it at Award Millinery Design.
Designer Amy Ward makes hats and fascinators that are individual works of art. Her background is in fine art, and she has worked as a make-up artist for magazines and TV and as a photographer for fashion spreads. But she always wanted to design hats, a pursuit she started just a year ago.
Amy describes her signature style as a cross between a mad hatter and an English riding hat. All of her hats are hand blocked, steamed and are one of a kind. She has purchased many vintage wooden hat blocks for various shaped crowns and brims from the United States and England. And for some of her designs she has had to carve her own blocks, as she says “no shapes like this existed outside of my head.”
This year for Derby I choose a bronze feather fascinator from Amy’s collection. The attention to detail was remarkable. Several different types and textures of feathers were attached to a small base. Each feather appeared to be hand shaped and steamed and each placed precisely to perfectly complement the others. The feel to the piece was indeed beautiful and unique.
While each hat is one-of-a-kind Amy can create hats similar to those pictured online that have already sold or she can create a hat to coordinate with an outfit based on a picture provided to her. She did the latter most recently when she designed a hat for a guest of the Royal Wedding.
You can find all her creations only on her website, AwardMillineryDesign.com. Right now she has no desire to expand and says, “As long as I'm having fun and my hats make people smile, I'll continue to do this.”
Amy Ward’s fascinators are priced at just under $50, madhatter styles around $65 and her large brim hats sell for $75-$95. An incredible value for an individually handmade and designed couture hat.
Photo: Courtesy Award Millinery Design
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