Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez and Mary J. Blige are just a few of the many A-list celebrities who Christine Moore has added to her client list.
Moore, the official milliner of the Triple Crown and the official hat designer of the 2013 Breeder’s Cup, has taken the horse world by storm while racking up a prestigious list of celebrities and fashionistas who proudly wear her hats. Over the years, “Gossip Girl” and other TV shows have showcased her hats, and for two years in a row Moore’s hats have been part of the official Kentucky Derby artwork that is featured on all race memorabilia.
For four years in a row, the “Today Show” has featured Moore live from Churchill Downs and called her “Milliner to the Triple Crown” and the “Premier Hat Designer for the Kentucky Derby.”
SHOWING HATS ON ‘TODAY SHOW’ BEFORE THIS YEAR'S BELMONT STAKES
Moore makes hats that range from extravagant pieces worn at the Kentucky Derby to everyday city hats that are part of her Blake collection.
Moore developed her talent and love of millinery in the theater. After studying costume design in college, Moore landed her first professional job as an assistant costume designer at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia. There she was introduced to the art of millinery and quickly found an apprenticeship with a theatrical milliner. Moore was soon able to take millinery jobs of her own at professional theaters throughout the United States, and traveled from theater to theater creating hats for various productions.
In 1990, Rodney Gordon, the top milliner for Broadway, asked Moore to come to New York City to work as his assistant. With Gordon she worked on many Broadway productions – “Phantom of the Opera,” “Crazy for You,” and “The Will Rogers Follies,” to name a few.
In 1994, Moore began the process of fulfilling her desire to start her own business. She approached the Henri Bendel Department Store in New York City. They instantly put her collection in their famous store and Moore’s theatrer days were behind her. In the years to come, Moore has followed her dream and sold to stores all over the world. Her hats have been featured in many publications, including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Allure, InStyle, Marie Claire, Sense, Sun Magazine and Sophisticated Living.
In the past seven years, Moore has been on Martha Stewart’s radio program and has been seen on many news stations from New York to Louisville, including the “Today Show,” “Access Hollywood” and two NBC Kentucky Derby news spots filmed in her New York City studio.
Moore kindly answered a few of our questions about her hats, style and this year’s Belmont Stakes.
One thing we know for sure, she can’t wait for this year’s Belmont Stakes!
“New York needs to once again show it’s racing muscle and I want to be a part of it. I love a challenge! Come on New York, let’s do it!”
Mary Dale: Tell me a little bit about your hats.
Christine Moore: I am known for my elegant racing styles but have other lines as well. Each hat is dyed to the intended color, hand blocked on wooden forms. The trim is meticulously hand-made and rolled, and each hat is lined; adding a quality finishing touch to the design as well as protecting the hat from wear and tear. We are known for our fine finishing work and attention to detail. My designs are light in weight giving a softer wearable feeling and each hat is individually made with great care here in New York.
Dale: When did you start making hats?
Moore: I started in the theater in 1988. I was originally a costume designer but met a milliner at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia and fell in love with the craft. I got several jobs in millinery and ended up in NYC working for Rodney Gordon, who makes hats for most of the Broadway shows. I did “Phantom of the Opera,” “[The] Will Rogers Follies” and “Crazy for You” to name a few. I worked for him for seven years and started my business in 1994.
Dale: What's a typical day like for you?
Moore: I get up early and look at emails and prepare the schedule for my staff. I ride the subway every day. I still love to make many of the hats and do so. I have been doing a lot of special orders lately, where I will receive a photo of a dress and design something special to coordinate. I do a marketing meeting with Blake (my husband and who the men’s line the “Blake Collection” is named after). We strategize on upcoming events and new ones. I work till 8 p.m., when my building closes, and then head home.
Dale: How would you describe your style?
Moore: Elegant and classic with attention to every detail. For racing, I love to deign big and always imagine a woman being photographed! I look at each one as a piece of art and as a sculpture. I want them to always feel right when you put it on your head. It should be comfortable.
Dale: What’s your favorite part about dressing for a Thoroughbred racing event?
Moore: I love to think about what I am going to wear and then design something new. I love to see others dressed as well and I love when the men join the ladies and go all out.
Dale: What are three things in your closet you couldn’t live without?
Moore: I am a New Yorker - anything black!
Dale: Who are some of your go-to designers?
Moore: I like Carolina Herrera, Oscar de le Renta and I have always loved Dolce & Gabbana and the late Alexander McQueen.
Dale: What is your source of inspiration for your designs?
Moore: My style starts with my theatrical background blended with trends and inspirations I get from the people I design for. I love nature and movement and always see that in my designs.
Dale: On average, how long does it take to create a single hat — from concept to completion?
Moore: Each style is different. It can take me weeks to design an entire line of 30 or 40 hats, and it is challenging to keep it fresh! Some styles take 45 minutes to an hour and some of the more intricate ones can take a few hours.
Dale: If you weren’t creating beautiful hats, what would you be doing?
Moore: I love the woods and nature. We have a small cabin in Pennsylvania that my husband, Blake, and I deigned and built ourselves. We love unwinding and spending time there. If I was not in NYC full-time I might work for the Forest Service!
Dale: How many Thoroughbred racing events will you be attending this year?
Moore: I have been to the Derby, Preakness and my husband and friends will be at the Belmont Stakes as well as other Belmont races because it is in our own backyard! I will also get up to Saratoga this summer and will be at Santa Anita for Breeders’ Cup.
Dale: Which Thoroughbred events are your favorite?
Moore: I love them all and each has their own style. During the Derby, I am in Louisville for nearly a month doing trunk shows, so it gets pretty crazy, Preakness is less crazy and my husband and I love Fells Point, Md. Belmont is beautiful and, with it being so close, it is a great place to spend summer nights. Saratoga is always a great summer trip, and with Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita – you cannot ask for a more beautiful backdrop.
MOORE TALKS ABOUT HER LOVE OF DESIGNING
Dale: How would you compare the fashions at different Thoroughbred racing events?
Moore: The Derby is crazy with big, over-the-top hats, and I love that! I actually have one in the Kentucky Derby Museum. Preakness has a great Baltimore feel with lots of men in bow ties this year! The Belmont Stakes is wide open with fashion and you will see big brim to fedoras and fascinators. Santa Anita and Breeders’ Cup has had some great looks especially with fascinators over the past few years.
Dale: What do you love most about the Belmont Stakes?
Moore: What I love about the Belmont Stakes is that it takes place in New York. There is grand history here just like Kentucky, but it has been a “sleeper” and now it is time to wake it up. New York needs to once again show it’s racing muscle, and I want to be a part of it. I love a challenge! Come on New York, let’s do it!