“It’s a new era in fashion – there are no rules. It’s all about the individual and personal style, wearing high-end, low-end, classic labels, and up-and-coming designers all together.”
– Alexander McQueen
When there are no rules, there are no limits. And that was certainly the case at The Voice-Tribune’s Best Dressed of Louisville Presented by Churchill Downs.
With high-flying acrobatics, a visually-shocking runway show and the Best Dressed men and women of Louisville immersed in a dark underworld inside the Louisville Marriott Downtown, the sixth annual Best Dressed was by far the best yet.
Drawing inspiration from Alexander McQueen’s “Savage Beauty” exhibit and the “Rite of Spring” by the Louisville Ballet, Douglas Riddle, along with Best Dressed committee members Tracy Blue – the managing director of The Voice-Tribune – Ron Wolz, Lori Kommor and Lauren DePaso delivered an out-of-this-world experience to guests on Saturday night.
“Everything came out exactly the way I had envisioned it and designed it,” said Riddle, Best Dressed creative director and president of Bittners. “I felt that somehow the ‘Rite of Spring’ and the Louisville Ballet and McQueen had to come together. And that’s where we focused our energy on creating the show. The (Best Dressed) team just wants to keep pushing it. It was all sort of magical.”
The opening of Best Dressed surely captured the attention of the sold-out crowd of 650 guests, as eight male and female ballet dancers stampeded down the runway while a jarring, heart-pounding blend of brass instruments announced the start of the show. The five-minute segment was followed by a scantily-clad male hanging from the ceiling, whose Cirque du Soleil twists and turns left audience members amazed.
The gorgeous models of Heyman Talent then strutted down the runway during the McQueen segment of the show, which included striking accessories from The Leatherhead. Nick Boone, co-owner of The Leatherhead, made several of the headpieces worn by the models, as well as a belt with long antlers sticking out the front and back.
“Everything – from the scaffolding when you walked in, to the runway, the antlers and all the food – the whole thing just worked,” said Elizabeth Lenihan, who won Best Dressed Couple with her husband, John Lenihan, owner of Lenihan Sotheby’s International Realty. “That whole crew of Ron, Douglas, Tracy, Lori and all of them have changed the whole vibe of Louisville. Through every party they throw, they have changed Louisville.”
The Best Dressed fashion show also featured chic and stylish attire from local boutiques Circe, Rodes For Him and For Her, Clodhoppers, Boutique Serendipity, Dressing Room, Nyam’s, Rodeo Drive and Sunny Daize. The Breeder’s Cup included a few looks to wear to the track this year, while Churchill Downs presented trendy outfits from the spring collection of Vineyard Vines.
“Best Dressed brings the imagination and magnetism of runway shows from Milan or Paris,” said Casey Cook, vice president of brand development and licensing for Churchill Downs Inc. “Churchill Downs is proud to partner with The Voice-Tribune to celebrate fashion and the nominated Louisvillians and give back to Dress for Success.”
Dress for Success Louisville was the benefiting charity for the second consecutive year. WHAS11 anchor Claudia Coffey, who was one of seven Best Dressed women winners, visited the charity days before attending Best Dressed to donate clothes to the charity.
“I met the women and just felt blessed to meet them and to watch these women come out in their clothing feeling like a million bucks,” Coffey said. “I think what The Voice-Tribune does is so important, and yes, it’s a great event but it benefits such a great purpose. Thank you to Tracy and Jonathan (Blue) because this is really cool. This is on par with a big city event. When you walk through the door, you’re like this is not the Marriott I know.”
Along with Coffey, the other Best Dressed women winners were Michele Beam, Ashley Blevins, Vicki Dortch, Lori Robbins, Amy Cimba and Jessica Green. Best Dressed men were Craig Pishotti, John Wilson, Bryen Pinkard and Michael Trager-Kusman, while the couples were the Lenihans, Bryan and Margi Sperry and Chad and Chelle Wabrek.
“It felt fantastic (to win),” said Pinkard. “I kind of took a second when I heard my name called. I wasn’t sure I had heard right that I had won.”
Best Dressed emcee Angie Fenton announced all of the winners, just after Tracy and Jonathan Blue took the stage to thank everyone involved with the event.
This year, Best Dressed drew incredible support from the community, from all of its sponsors, including Churchill Downs, Bittners, Chambord and Little Black Dress Wines, to the Marriott, the caterers, the Heyman Talent models, Joseph’s Salon & Spa and MAC Cosmetics, and all of the countless volunteers and attendees.
The Voice-Tribune also has thousands of voters to thank, who voted almost 18,000 times for their favorite Best Dressed nominees.
This year’s list of nominees was an exciting group of fabulously dressed individuals. During the nominee walk, the crowd was entertained by such entrances as WLKY-TV’s Vicki Dortch, who had suffered a fractured foot and was carried down the runway Cleopatra-style on a shrine. John and Elizabeth Lenihan also had a little fun with the catwalk, as they headed down the runway wearing sunglasses, while stopping for a few rock star poses together.
“We thought of different ways at the (WLKY) station on how I could make an entrance, and then Craig Wickman and Jason Brasel – two hairstylists from Vertu Salon – volunteered to carry me,” Dortch said of her entrance. “It all seemed to fall into place with the help of a lot of people.”
After all of the nominees appeared on stage and the winners of Best Dressed were announced, Fenton closed out the night before many of the guests headed to PRIME Lounge for the official Best Dressed After-Party.
“I’m in awe from the event,” said Tracy Blue. “For me it was emotional. I think I’m still in shock. I really don’t know how I could have done it without the staff, especially without the passion and talent of Douglas Riddle. I’m very fortunate to have my team and everybody who helped out at Best Dressed.”
Without a doubt, this year’s Best Dressed was unlike any other event in Louisville. Every element was phenomenal, from the delicious hors d’oeuvres to the open bar, the avant-garde ballet and fashion show, and the elegantly dressed men and women of Louisville. After what we saw Saturday, it’s impossible to imagine how the Best Dressed committee will top this year’s Best Dressed, but the trend indicates that each year only gets bigger and better.
“I don’t really feel pressure to top it,” Riddle said. “I guess I have great confidence in my and the team’s creativity. There will always be something new and fresh to inspire us. What I love the most about this event is how all the people always come together so beautifully. We are lucky to have an event like Best Dressed.”
About the Author (Author Profile)
Ashley spends half her time writing stories at The Voice-Tribune office and half her time out on the town conducting interviews, while occasionally dressing in wild outfits to fully immerse herself in the experience (aka Princess Leia at Comic Con). Ashley is a huge UofL fan and loves the Yankees and the Boston Celtics (she is fully aware of the irony). She hopes to one day outshine Erin Andrews on ESPN and enjoys running, Bardstown Road/Fourth Street, Breaking Bad and reality TV (she’s not ashamed to admit that).