Off to the Races: 2016 Horse Racing Season Guide

Off to the Races: 2016 Horse Racing Season Guide Kentucky Derby - Photo: iStockphoto/ Jill Lang

Ready, set, hats!

May marks the beginning of horse racing season, and its attendant mint juleps and mojitos, bright sundresses, and huge statement hats. To prepare you for high racing season, my team and I have put together a primer of the most important races, what’s at stake at each this season, and how to answer the most pressing question – what to wear?

Kick back with a mint julep and our guide to this season’s quintessential races.

Races to Watch

May 6 and 7, Kentucky Derby:

Held in Louisville, Kentucky on the first Saturday of May every year, the Kentucky Derby kicks off horse racing season. Held at the famous Churchill Downs, the competition is between three-year-old thoroughbreds, who battle it out on the racetrack for one and a quarter miles. The Kentucky Derby is the first of three key American horse racing events that, together with the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes comprise the “Triple Crown” of thoroughbred racing.

The race’s marquee social event is the star-studded, black tie Barnstable Brown Gala, held the night before the races every year in the jaw-dropping mansion of local social doyenne Patricia Barnstable Brown. It is one of the highlights of the Southern social scene, and a perfect occasion to break out your best Oscar, Carolina, or Miuccia. And once you’re at the races the next day, you’ll need a drink. If you’re feeling lucky with your bets, there’s no better way to toast to your luck than with Woodford Reserve’s $1,000 mint julep, which has been sold in a custom-designed commemorative cups at the Derby for the past ten years.

May 14, Iroquois Steeplechase: 

Hot on the Derby’s heels is the Iroquois Steeplechase, held near Nashville, Tennessee. Steeplechase has been held on the same course since 1941, and has been a fixture in Southern social calendars for just as long. The best views are from the “Tents in the Turn”– luxe, tented affairs with prime panoramas onto the track, and from the Skybox Suites, which are wood-paneled, climate controlled, and full of the crème de la crème of Southern society.

The hottest ticket in town is the Steeplechase-eve gala at the gorgeous and historic Belle Meade Planation. The soirée is invitation-only, but if you have a proper Southern belle on speed dial, you can bet she’ll have an in. You’ll have plenty of time to meet fellow race-goers in the preceding weeks, when all of Nashville congregates at the booming city’s best boutiques, including Reese Witherspoon’s new Draper James.

June 14 to 18, Royal Ascot:

For those looking to hop the pond for a mid-summer European escape, Royal Ascot is a must-go event on the British social calendar. Ascot is over 300 years old, and hats are required. The Royal Enclosure is the place to be, where Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, along with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, watch the race each year. Race-goers imbibe over 50,000 bottles of champagne each year and nosh on 2,900 lobsters and 50,000 macaroons. Four hundred helicopters and 1,000 limousines ferry Ascot-goers to and from London and beyond.

What to Wear

Races have a very particular dress code, of course. For the ladies, statement hats or fascinators are the most essential piece of any outfit. While you could always head to Barney’s or Saks to find your perfect topper, some designers have taken to making extraordinary hats particularly for the occasion.

The Royal Ascot collection is designed in collaboration with eight of the United Kingdom’s most fabulous milliners, many of whom have been of service to the Royal Family. (We think the fascinator would be a particularly good choice to pair with your L.K. Bennetts, in a nod to the Duchess of Cambridge.)

Top American milliners include Maggie Mae Designs and Gina Conti. There are ostrich plumes and hand-pleated Parisian ribbon aplenty, custom orders are not uncommon, and the most important rule of all is that the same hat can never be worn twice.

As for the rest of your outfit, ladies should opt for a bright shift dress paired with Louboutin wedges and ropes of pearls– a classic, understated look that lets the hat shine! For gentlemen, a Brooks Brothers seersucker suit was practically made for Derby Day. Smarten up your suit with a bowtie, a pair of horse bit loafers (worn sockless, of course), and a fedora or bowler hat for a distinguished, dapper look.

And now, we’re off to the races!

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Met Gala Preview 2016

Met Gala Preview 2016 Photo: iStockphoto/Samaro

Fashion’s hottest night is just days away. This coming Monday, May 2nd, the fashion world will convene on the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the museum’s annual Met Gala helmed by Vogue editor Anna Wintour. Everyone from Beyoncé and Jay-Z to George and Amal Clooney to fashion world icons like Cara Delivigne and Stella McCartny clamor for invitations, and the sartorial selections of those who make the cut are par excellence.

This year’s theme – dubbed “Manus x Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology” – couldn’t be more perfect for our times. The gala marks the opening of the Costume Institute’s exhibit exploring the democratization of the formerly cloistered world of haute couture and high fashion thanks to the proliferation of technology.

As technology brings the world to our fingertips, whether in fashion, music, film, or real estate, creativity abounds as people globally merge and share experiences and technology speeds up the minds of our youth and what we can create. Live streaming and video content continues to grow online and I expect in time this will also transfer into real estate marketing though it hasn’t fully caught on yet.

Live streaming of fashion shows from around the world (remember the Zoolander crew’s cameo at Valentino last spring in Paris?) have exported the shows’ magic to those not able to be there in person. Instagram has turned well-dressed bloggers from every corner of the globe into street style stars and fashion icons. And technology has increasingly been used to both produce and inspire fashion, from designers like Kimberly Ovitz and Pamela Love using 3-d printers to fashion their wares to futuristic designs at Balenciaga produced with elements of engineering and neoprene.

It’s no surprise this year’s sponsor is Apple – not only is the iPhone the choice technological accessory on the red carpet (along with the gateway to Instagram), the tech giant’s upper echelons are stacked with talent poached from the fashion world, including Angela Ahrendts, who used to be the CEO of Burberry and is now SVP of retail and online stores at Apple.

For those whose invitations to this year’s gala got lost in the mail, an incisive documentary will offer an exclusive window into last year’s blockbuster gala, “China: Through the Looking Glass.” Made by filmmaker Andrew Rossi, the film – The First Monday in May – takes viewers behind the scenes of preparations for the gala, and to the big night itself. It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this month, no doubt reminding many of the premier’s attendees to start seriously considering their outfits.

Follow this link to see Vogue’s Met Gala Coverage

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New York Design Spotlight: Michael Aram

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In Hindi, “aram” literally translates as “ease”. Hindi speakers use the word to connote gentle movement with peace, love and care. This is exactly the ethos award-winning artist Michael Aram evokes in his timeless metal-ware, home-ware and fine jewelry designs. Read more…

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Monday Market Video: Average Manhattan Home Now Costs $2M

Alexis Christophorous Interviews Jonathan Miller on Manhattan’s Luxury Market & Foreign Buyers

Last week major real estate firms in Manhattan issued their Q1 2016 Manhattan Market Reports. According to the reports, the average Manhattan home now costs $2 million. The reports also reveal some interesting insights into foreign buyer trends and the larger real estate market.

When speaking to clients in the last few months, these questions have come up repeatedly Read more…

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Remembering Zaha Hadid

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“People think that the most appropriate building is a rectangle, because that’s typically the best way of using space. But is that to say that landscape is a waste of space? The world is not a rectangle.” – Dame Zaha Hadid

Recently, when I learned the sad news of Dame Zaha Hadid’s passing, I was reminded of the moment in 2015 when Read more…

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Manhattan Market: What Does a $2.5M Condo Really Cost Foreign Buyers Today?

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Much has been written about Chinese and Russians dropping $30+ million on Manhattan luxury condominiums since 2012. As a result, even sellers of condos priced between $1-4 million ask: “Where are the foreign buyers for my home? What will you do to attract them?”

While huge amounts of foreign currency is being spent on US real estate, not every property type is benefiting from it or is appealing to an international buyer. Generally, foreign buyers who Read more…

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How Tech Transformed Venice Beach Real Estate

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Why do some neighborhoods transition and become the hottest addresses in town seemingly overnight while others stagnate? One trend my team and I are watching closely this year is the role of tech in neighborhood place making. Earlier this year, we took a closer look at how the co-working revolution is reshaping New York real estate from Midtown East to Brooklyn. Out in LA, tech is also the driving force behind residential property spikes, especially along “Silicon Beach”. Read more…

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Monday Market Video: Average Manhattan Home Now Costs $2M

Posted on April 4, 2016

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