FILE – A lady wears a hat forward of the Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course, Saturday, Might 15, 2021, in Baltimore. Preakness could also be a gathering centered round horse racing, however for Baltimore native Lacey Johansson, who has been attending festivities for many years, the hats steal the present. (AP Picture/Nick Wass, File)




BALTIMORE (AP) — Preakness could also be a gathering centered round horse racing, however for Baltimore native Lacey Johansson, who has been attending festivities for many years, the hats steal the present.

“I simply favored the hats, and it is a big day for Baltimore, and it is the most effective day to be in Baltimore,” stated Johansson, 42, who attended the pre-Preakness Black-Eyed Susan occasion as a toddler and grew up going to the horse races practically yearly. “It is simply loads of enjoyable to dress up and take the time to consider what you are going to put on.”

What to don is vital, as a result of Preakness, set for Might 21, is not only about being trendy, however standing out.

“I wish to have a hat that nobody else has,” Johansson stated. “I prefer to be totally different and (Preakness is) sort of the one place that I am very vogue ahead. I prefer to make an announcement.”

Social media influencer and Baltimore native Morgan Moses-Allen, who has attended Preakness and likewise famous the trendsetters, stated the occasion prioritizes the head-turning hat.

Persons are additionally studying…

“There’s something particular to Baltimore about having a sure sort of hat, one thing that stands out, one thing that is totally different,” Moses-Allen, 35, stated. “Each time I might go or somebody would invite me, it was all the time a query about your hat, like, ‘What sort of hat are you carrying?'”

And that is the place Ashley Clark involves the rescue. Clark is the founder, designer and CEO of Soigné Luxurious Equipment, headquartered in Fells Level.

“Loads of the time I make hats that I am unable to discover on the market,” the 34-year-old entrepreneur stated. “I all the time say I design for the extraordinary, not the bizarre. There aren’t any plain bagels in my consumer roster.”

Soigné started as a vivid dream that felt so actual it led Clark to drop out of legislation faculty. She traveled to France to review the craft, took millinery programs from Hat Academy, and started making hats for mates round 2016.

In 2018, Clark formally launched Soigné and started the enterprise’ transformation from a dream to an award-winning model that has loyal shoppers and a repute for jaw-dropping designs.

“I have been fortunate my designs have received greatest hat in any respect three races (Triple Crown) and I made historical past in 2019, being the primary ever small business-owned, small designer, to win greatest hat.”

For final yr’s Preakness she created a hat for Moses-Allen that featured remote-controlled feather butterflies. The design not solely received, however made headlines.

“Morgan’s hat was on the quilt of USA At this time,” Clark stated, describing how she hand-painted feathers to craft the hat and butterflies. “They fluttered on her head.”


Another Triple Crown long shot? Fenwick is 50-1 in Preakness


Preakness tradition Alibi Breakfast back after 2 years off


Rich Strike skipping Preakness reignites Triple Crown debate

The pandemic pressured Clark to discover different equipment similar to headbands, earmuffs, jewellery and extra.

“Hats are the love of my life, truthfully,” she stated. “All the different merchandise happened due to COVID. I did not wish to hearth my workers and we had a bunch of material and stuff mendacity round, and we simply pivoted. It was like: ‘how are you going to look good from the neck up in pajamas on a Zoom name throughout COVID?'”

Clark opened a brick and mortar in Boston in November 2020, however she shortly “outgrew” that location. She beforehand lived in Baltimore for 9 years, the place she participated in pageants, labored as an NFL cheerleader and studied in graduate faculty. When it was time to increase, the CEO knew the realm could be an inexpensive choice to develop her enterprise.

“Baltimore performs such a giant function on this journey due to the affordability after which there’s horse racing and that area of interest market,” Clark stated. “However folks do not understand that Baltimore has a kaleidoscope of vogue that additionally evokes me every day.”

A protracted-standing Baltimore battle of native aesthetic additionally influences Clark’s designs.

“There’s this preppy side of Baltimore, the place there’s ladies within the county, and it’s totally Brooks Brothers, and J. Crew,” she stated. “Then you’ve got this sensational road vogue that has a lot perspective and aptitude.”

“And whenever you mix these two issues collectively, you get this lovely vogue area of interest that’s the metropolis. And to me, it offers me life and propels me ahead,” the designer stated.

After gutting the constructing, Clark opened her Fells Level location on Thames Road final August.

“I used to be fortunate as a result of the situation that I am in was once a retail retailer, so it had good bones,” she stated.

These bones have stretched out to a physique of labor that features an annual assortment of 55 hats plus particular person consultations, lifetime consumer hat blocks (molds of shoppers’ head sizes and shapes) and customized creations. Soigne’s 2022 hat assortment is impressed by billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk not too long ago exploring area, and the commonly trending cryptocurrency conversations.

“The brand new assortment is named Sexual House Odyssey — it is the derby on the moon. So consider loads of lace, loads of leather-based, loads of fake flowers, loads of taxidermy,” Clark stated. “We’ve components that transfer, we have now area helmets, we have now airplanes the place the cockpit lights up on a hat that’s wrapped on this luxurious and boss leather-based. It is sort of wild.”

Items from her new assortment and customized creations can be on full show on the Preakness.

“Morgan’s hat this yr is three-feet broad,” Clark stated, spilling a few of the tea about Moses-Allen’s brilliant pink Preakness look forward of Saturday’s large occasion.

“I will have to show to stroll within the doorways,” Moses-Allen laughed. “It is also not going to be your conventional hat in your head. It is extra like a construction.”

Clark can be designing Johansson’s 2022 Preakness look, crafting the hat round a jungle theme.

“It’ll be a kind of the place it is over one eye, sort of tilted down with black and white and pink colours all through,” stated Johansson, who has been shopping for Clark’s customized creations since 2018.

The designer additionally creates complimentary matching equipment along with her hat designs. For instance, she is going to provide concepts for a associate’s look similar to a coordinating bow tie, lapel pin and handkerchief, all protecting to the identical theme.

Johansson stated Clark gives “the entire 9 yards,” however that is not the one cause Soigné hats are good for Preakness.

“It is a lengthy day, so I believe crucial half is that it suits,” stated Johansson. “It does not transfer, it stays in your head, you do not have to fret about it blowing away.”