Houston hat makers ready for Kentucky Derby

By Lauren Freeman - Anchor

HOUSTON - Whether you're going to Churchill Downs or just a local party, The Kentucky Derby isn't the Derby without a hat.

Gabriela Dror is a Houston designer who has been creating beautiful hats for five years.

"I just think women look beautiful in hats and they are slowly starting to realize it," said Dror.

Gabriela started out designing clothing and eventually transitioned to hats. She sketches out her designs and has them made in her native Czech Republic. They are all one of a kind.

"I try to design very exclusive hats and every woman should try a hat that suits her," said Dror.

She said that in Houston there are more and more events where women are wearing hats like the ones that she designs.

"There are so many events like tennis tournaments, or, at Herman Park, the Hats on the Green," she said.

According to the designer, the women of Houston love color in their hats and she says expect to see a lot of this at the Derby. "Lots of greens," she said.

Wendy Freaney makes hats by hand in her home. Her business and love affair with hats began after the Royal Wedding of Prince Andrew and Kate Middleton.

"We hosted a royal wedding party and I made some fascinators and someone said I should start selling them. And the rest is history," said Freaney.

Two years ago, Hat Candy Millinery was born. The days and weeks leading up to the Kentucky Derby is a busy time of the year for her hat-making business.

"This year, I have about six hats that will be at the Derby," she said.

It takes Wendy about a day to make a hat and each one is unique — no two are exactly alike. She machine sews some of the material, but every crown and base is put together by hand.

The 139th Run for the Roses is Saturday. Since the race began in 1875, women have been dressing to impress with hats.

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