LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky Derby Hat Showcase is back at the Kentucky Derby Museum.
Derby season has been seriously impacted by COVID-19 the past two tears, but the fashion and hat business is picking back up as people are looking to make up for lost time. WDRB Photojournalist Tom Round talked with one of four featured milliners for this year's event, and Ilana Kogan couldn't be more excited to get "back to normal."
Kogan is a actually full-time radiologist by day, so her business is called The Hat Doctor. She started making Derby hats for her friends when she moved to Kentucky in 2005 from New York City to attend the University of Louisville School of Medicine.
"You can't wear the same hat twice, so I started selling the hats we wore that year," she said. "Then the following year, just making a little pocket money by just selling the hats. That's how my little business has grown. Every single penny goes to my massive student loans."
Standing in a walk-in closet filled with a rainbow of flowers, feathers and ribbon, Kogan said she enjoys her side-business.
"It's totally different than my day job," she said. "I'm a radiologist, you know, dictate reports, CTs, MRIs, x-rays. It's a lot of black and white, so I need a lot of color in my life.
"It's a total outlet for creativity. I totally love making Derby hats. I'm in my happy zone when I'm sitting there sewing, gluing and designing. It's my favorite thing. I feel like I dream about hats, sometimes just thinking of new, creative silhouettes."
Kogan said 2020 had a great start, but after Mardi Gras season, the hat business was a bust. Then it started to turn around last year.
"2021 was pretty big for me," she said. "I thought people were really in the mood to kinda get out of their house and kinda have some normalcy. This year is bigger. Jan. 1 it started. It's just incredibly busy since then."
Now, she said, Derby season is ramping up.
"We're back. We're totally back, baby," Kogan said. "Everyone is totally ready to party. Everyone is ready to move on. Everyone is ready to look gorgeous, have fun."
The secret to a Derby outfit is the hat, Kogan said.
"The hat is the most important part of your outfit," she said. "It's reflective of who you are. Are you fun? Are you romantic? Are you playful? Are you sophisticated? Are you classy? Or are you everything? You can have it all in one hat."
Since The Hat Doctor is Kogan's side-business, it's also part of her home life.
"I try to combine as much of my family life with my hat business," she said. "My kids help me pack all of the hats. They put tissue paper in the boxes. They help pull labels of the printer. My husband does all of my shipping."
Kogan said the Derby Museum's hat showcase if one of the biggest events she's participated in.
"I'm so excited to see all the ladies, wearing my creations, walking down a runway, trying on my hats at my table," she said. "It's just going to be so much fun."
The Hat Doctor is one of four miliners featured at the Kentucky Derby Museum's event. Featured milliners include Formé Millinery Co, Simply Laura Millinery and Christine A. Moore Millinery. Each of them will be featured at the Kentucky Derby Museum Store throughout the year, as well.
The Derby Hat Showcase is on Saturday, March 13, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The ticketed event that features a runway show, mimosas and a gourmet brunch.
Tickets can still be purchased on the Derby Museum website.
Copyright 2022 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.