Designing Derby Day: A Timeless Take on an Equestrian Tradition

"The Kentucky Derby, whatever it is—a race, an emotion, a turbulence, an explosion—is one of the most beautiful and violent and satisfying things I have ever experienced." – John Steinbeck

The first Saturday in May will always be circled in a heart on my calendar. From the fanfare to the fashion, it’s a day to celebrate the magic of the Thoroughbred.
 And enjoy a mint julep or two!

I’ve always dreamed of designing a Derby Day party with a Hart Equestrian twist. As a collector of vintage ticket stubs and racing memorabelia, I envisioned a Southern soirée filled with Kentucky charm and timeless equestrian character.

With a springtime visit from my good friend Marie Roy, it felt like the perfect time to make it happen. After curating our list of antiques and trying our hands at floral design, we spent the day dreaming up these Derby Day vignettes, with Marie behind the lens.

Hart Equestrian vintage Kentucky Derby ticket invitations
Vintage Derby tickets from the 30s and 40s are a treat for the eyes. Inspired by the classic typography and nostalgic color palettes, I designed our invitations to set the tone for a Derby event steeped in tradition and style.
Equestrian tablescape place setting
A tablescape worthy of your finest Derby hat. Vintage Man O’ War plate by Lynn Bogue Hunt, Ralph Lauren Glen Plaid glassware, Arte Italica Pewter charger, Vintage flatware.
Mint julep bar Kentucky Derby party
A mint julep bar filled with vintage trophies and classic red roses to honor the winning horse.
Classic Kentucky Derby Party Ideas with Pinhook Bourbon
Red Mare Wine featured at Kentucky Derby party
Equestrians love a good horse wine, and this one has become my go-to. A Napa red that you’ll keep coming back to (for more than just the label).
Derby Day party ideas
Woodford Reserve Derby bottle 2022
The 2022 commemorative Derby bottle, designed by one of my favorite equestrian artists, Jamie Corum. A true complement to any equestrian bar.
Horse Gift Basket by Hart Equestrian
What’s a party without a thoughtful hostess gift? We curated our basket around a beautifully on-theme bottle of Pinhook Rye, coupled with julep cups, a vintage art print, and homemade spiced pecans.