Kentucky Derby: Fabulous fashion through the ages

Story highlights

  • Kentucky Derby a fashion event like none other in the world
  • A look at some of the best - and worst - outfits over the years

(CNN)As anyone who's been to the Kentucky Derby will tell you -- it's so much more than just a horse race.

For the 170,000 people streaming into Churchill Downs on Saturday, the "most exciting two minutes in sports" will take place against a backdrop of big personalities -- and even bigger hats.
    From flamboyant fascinators, to rose-inspired accessories and even the occasional horse suit, the Kentucky Derby has carved a name for itself as a fashion event where anything goes.
    Hand-crafted hats like something dreamed up from Alice in Wonderland, mix with celebrities flaunting the latest designer wears.
    And by the time the Mint Juleps have kicked in, some forgo a headpiece and shoes altogether.
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    Since it first launched in 1875, the Derby has seen hemlines go up and down, gloves thrown to the wind, and hat brims expand and contract more times than the phases of the moon.
    "If I could describe the Derby in three words, it would be: significant cultural event," said Chris Goodlet, Curator of Collections at the Kentucky Derby Museum.
    "The Derby shares the prestige of races like France's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, or Australia's Melbourne Cup," he said, adding "but I think where it differs is the unique feel. It's such a fun, jovial event."
    We take a look at Derby fashion over the decades.
    Flick through the gallery above to see more
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