LOUISVILLE, Ky. — We are now less than a month away from the 147th Kentucky Derby. That means it’s crunch time for Master Milliner Jenny Pfanentstiel as customers scramble to get their outfits together before the big day.

What You Need To Know

  • A few weeks out from the Kentucky Derby, people are getting their outfits ready

  • Jenny Pfanenstiel is getting calls from customers all over the world

  • It’s a big change of pace from a few weeks out from the Kentucky Derby last year

  • Churchill Downs announced the 146th Kentucky would run without fans, which was a big blow to Pfanenstiel’s business

At Pfanenstiel’s business, Formé Millinery, customers from all over the world either call her or travel to the shop to pick out their hats and fascinators.

Jenny Pfanenstiel runs Formé Millinery.

“Your hat is your statement piece. That’s what you want to keep in mind,” Pfanenstiel said. “Yes, people go to the Derby to watch horse racing, but I would say 90% of people are going there for the outfits.”

A mother-daughter duo was in the store a few weeks before the Run for the Roses, trying to finalize outfit details as well as get the right accessories to have a fashionable Derby day.

“I’m right now contemplating wearing a black jumpsuit. It’s really cute. It’s a kind of an off the shoulder affair,” said customer Linda Gerst. “I wanted to try on a couple of hats that could possibly go with that.”

For customer Heather Delaney, there was no doubt about the dress. She already had one picked out. That’s why she brought it with her to Formé Millinery, so Pfanenstiel could help her find the perfect hat or fascinator to go with it. 

“I love that I can bring my dress and she can actually craft the hat specifically for my dress, which is amazing,” said Delaney. “Coming here is not just about a hat. It’s about an experience. That’s what I love about it.”

She’s been coming to Pfanenstiel’s stores for years, even before this current location. She said it’s always her favorite part of her trips to Louisville.

A customer planning their Derby outfit.

“When I’m creating a hat or fascinator, especially for a customer, I really think about that person in mind when I am creating a hat,” said Pfanenstiel. “I think about who they are as a person. Do they like to stand out or blend in with the crowd? I have a little bit of them and their personality and, of course, myself in each hat.”

She said this has been a night and day difference from last year. If you’ll recall, Churchill Downs pushed the Kentucky Derby back to September. Then, at the last minute, Churchill Downs announced there would be no fans. 

“I am so excited there will be fans this year. I know people are calling me from all over the world who are either going to be coming in-person or having an at-home party. They just want to celebrate,” said Pfanenstiel.

Pfanenstiel is the Featured Milliner of the 147th Kentucky Derby for the second year in a row. This is the 4th year in a row that she is the Official Milliner of the Kentucky Derby Museum.