Sparkling spirits, delectable dishes, an elegant ballet performance and, of course, an incredible fashion show were just a few of the highlights from this year’s Best Dressed of Louisville Presented By Churchill Downs. Despite the fact the show has now gone on for seven years straight, it has continued to raise the bar with each installment.
In years past, many have wondered what it takes to produce such a spectacular event. On Aug. 25, Louisville’s fashionable elite finally discovered the answer, as nearly 650 fashionably-dressed men and women gained a never-before-seen glimpse behind the curtain of The Voice-Tribune’s Best Dressed, through this year’s theme, “Backstage Pass.”
The driving force behind Best Dressed is Creative Director Douglas Riddle of Bittners, The Voice-Tribune Publisher Tracy Blue, Design Director Ron Wolz of Bittners, Project Manager Lauren DePaso and Event Chair Lori Kommor. “Through all these years of doing these shows, people always say to me that they always want to be (backstage), because that’s where all the action is, even though it gets completely crazy,” Riddle said of the inspiration behind this year’s theme. “I thought it would be fun for the audience to see what really goes into putting a fashion show of this magnitude together.”
The crowd entered the massive ballroom, where they were greeted by a towering, translucent scrim covering the backstage area. Models, Joseph’s Salon & Spa makeup and hair stylists and a large crew of technicians and staff could be seen hastily working to prepare for the main event of the evening.
“Best Dressed is such a well put together fashion/art show,” said Dr. Meg Livesay, who walked away with the award for Best Dressed Couple along with her husband and fellow doctor, Kenny. “I’m always so impressed with the caliber of the show and how much thought and effort has gone into the show. We tell everyone that you would think you were in New York at a fashion show.”
Before the models of Heyman Talent graced the catwalk for the runway show, a video produced by Josh Minogue of Blair Dog flashed across the large screen at the center of the stage. The edgy, black and white film displayed an eye-popping look at the setup process behind Best Dressed.
“Under the leadership of Douglas Riddle, Josh Minogue brought all the hours of preparation to life in the time lapse opening video which was exciting, sexy and artistic,” said Wolz. “We all got to see a ‘behind the scenes’ peek to the hundreds of hours of work that it takes to put on such a world class fashion event.”
Following the introductory film, the Louisville Ballet, under the artistic direction of Bruce Simpson, presented Annie Honebrink and Ben Needham-Wood, who executed a delicate, affectionate performance of “Saudade Amore,” choreographed by Amanda Diehl.
“I’m on the board for the Louisville Ballet, so I love to see them get more exposure any way they can, and I think they’re incredible artists and the performance was sexy,” said Best Dressed Male Winner Dr. Sean Maguire, medical director and plastic surgeon at Physician’s Center for Beauty. “(It) really just got everyone settled down and focused for the runway show itself, which was fantastic.”
As the assembly applauded the captivating dance, models strode down the runway sporting the latest, trendy apparel from local stores, Blink Boutique, Boutique Serendipity, Circe, Clodhoppers, Rodeo Drive, Rodes for Him & For Her, Sunny Daize, eyewear from Gaddie Eye Centers and the hottest attire for dressing your best at Downs After Dark at Churchill Downs.
Then came the moment all had awaited: the arrival of nominees on the catwalk as emcee Angie Fenton of The Voice-Tribune announced the Best Dressed Men, Women and Couples. Ali Navigar, Dr. Sean Maguire and Karter Louis were named the night’s Best Dressed Men, while Drs. Meg and Kenny Livesay and Bill and Becky Lamb received the honor of Best Dressed Couples. Patti Moore, Winny Wearren, Mimi Janson, Hadley Hartz, Kim Tobin and Lisa Walker also took home the award for Best Dressed Women.
“It feels great (to win),” said Tobin of Churchill Downs. “I think being ‘Best Dressed’ is not just what you put on your body to wear but how you feel inside and out – I feel great! The Voice-Tribune’s 2012 Best Dressed was absolutely amazing. It was fun, it was classy, it was entertaining and philanthropic while benefiting a great organization – The West End Boys School.”
As the winners celebrated their victory, Best Dressed attendees headed downtown for the official after-party held at St. Charles Exchange, where a vibrant group danced the night away on the lower deck to tunes from DJ Jaybird.
Now seven years strong, Best Dressed delivered its trademark elegance, high-fashion and top-of-the-line entertainment while benefiting an excellent establishment, The West End School. Delicious hors’ d’oeuvres, a brimming open bar filled with Heaven Hill Distilleries and Carnivor Cabernet products, the ballet, runway show, award winners and post-party all converged to make the glamorous evening one guests won’t soon forget.
“Each year we strive to make The Voice-Tribune’s Best Dressed of Louisville better than the one before – and each year, Douglas Riddle, President of Bittners, continues to deliver his creative vision and talent into a truly spectacular event,” said Tracy Blue.
“While Ron Wolz and Lori Kommor collaborate on the décor, putting touches of their fabulous taste throughout the Marriott ballroom, Lauren DePaso helps keep everything straight – me included.
“Plus, Managing Editor and BD emcee Angie Fenton and her production team lend their artistic craft in promoting and supporting the event. They’re also responsible for ensuring all Best Dressed content and coverage is on point. When that last Saturday in August comes, we all look around the room and can finally take a deep breath at what has been accomplished.
“We are beyond gracious for the community’s support in helping make this event what it is year after year – and are so thankful for our Presenting Sponsor, Churchill Downs, and all our generous sponsors, for always believing in what this event can be.”
Fashion Bloggers Review BD2012
This year’s Best Dressed runway, benefiting the West End School, brought everything from animal and floral prints, sequins, and head-to-toe white to neon, plaid pants, and mullet dresses, representative of the fashion trends in 2012 and 2013.
Kicking off the festivities, the Louisville Ballet turned up upon the runway donning a minimalist look of grey with random pale neon green rectangles and see-thru vertical side stripes; no flying phoenix women like in the closing ceremonies of the XXX Olympiad in London. This was followed by pieces from local boutiques – including Clodhoppers, Circe, and Blink – ranging from the aforementioned to more see-thru looks, peplum skirts and blazers, and feathered fur vests. Not to be outdone, the nominees rocked frocks of orange, plaid, color-shift sequins, even a lime green handkerchief/dress combo.
In short, BD2012 was the best one yet. May BD2013 surpass this night.
Miranda Rogers McDonald
As the lights dimmed and the crowd’s chatter came to an immediate halt, I was overcome with that particular feeling of excitement that takes over when one becomes acutely aware that a handful of models are about to walk their way into the Best Dressed archives, and delight us all with a fashion show to remember. As soon as these women started their stylish trot down the runway in platinum wigs, ski goggles, and all white ensembles, I knew that this year’s show would once again far exceed my expectations. Although there was a different style aesthetic for each boutique that presented pieces at this year’s event, there was one common theme of femininity and strength that threaded each look together into one unified ensemble. Whether it was a skirted power suit from Circe, or a full sequined gown from Rodeo Drive, each piece inspired a crowd of women from a variety of backgrounds, ages, and yes, closets.
In the voice of fashion, amazing described The Voice -Tribune Best Dressed fashion show. The sparkling venue was transformed into a haute couture premiere. Highlights included the mix of this season’s best runway collections to the announcement of the nominees and winners. My absolute favorite feature of the night was the opening of the runway show to introduce the infamous WHITE for fall. It was a bold testament of fashion: Who says you can’t wear white after Labor Day!