Tracey Tooker crowned the 2001 Kentucky Derby winner – not the horse, Monarchos, but Debby Oxley, wife of John Oxley, the horse’s owner. Tooker did it with a pale-yellow straw hat, trimmed with French silk flowers, that matched jockey Jorge Chavez’s silks. Tooker, whose clientele includes Hillary Clinton, Nancy Reagan, Bianca Jagger, and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, was inundated with commissions for this year’s derby: She lost count at 60 sunbonnets. “I go to bed at three or four in the morning, get up, and start all over,” she says. Although the race is over, the requests are still running high. “Feathers are big this year, huge,” adds Tooker, who has stores in Manhattan (1211 Lexington Ave., near 82nd St., 212-472-9603), Palm Beach, and Southampton and reports that consumer confidence remains high, at least among those who can afford to pay from $300 to $1,500 for her creations. “My clients don’t want to be conservative. They don’t want to blend in. They want to be noticed.” Those who don’t can always wear a baseball cap.
Sarah Jessica Parker, Marina Rust, and Elizabeth Hurley are all after one designer: Emanuel Ungaro – a name heard rarely on the red-carpet circuit in the past decade, conjuring as it did the company’s heyday of clashing prints and shoulder pads. But now it’s back, and not for the purely nostalgic reasons that drive so many similar revivals: It’s not vintage Ungaro that’s being gobbled, it’s new Ungaro’s, which are dreamy, Gallic, and feminine. The company has opened a new shop at 792 Madison Avenue (212-249-4090), and its samples are constantly on loan to stylists and costume designers. Stylist Patricia Field has placed a huge order for Sex and the City’s next season from Ungaro’s fall collection – we predict those tangerine knickers suits will spawn a sea of envious imitators.
Last week’s heat wave reminded everyone that wearing winter black leaves you feeling, in 90 degrees of pure humidity, like so much hot, sticky asphalt. Luckily, this is the season of the white blouse. We prefer embroidered hippie or draped, Grecian-style versions. “They make everyone look cool, but they can’t be too feminine and frilly,” explains designer Anne Johnston, whose white tops have toga-style wrapping, draped necklines, and ruching ($165-$175, Martin, 206 East 6th Street; 212-358-0011). Katayone Adeli has nailed the hippie look with delicate embroidering and loose fits ($128 at Steven Alan, 60 Wooster St.; 212-334-6354). Just be careful sloshing that other ubiquitous summer accessory – a large iced coffee.
Freed from her gig shooting the sunny party pages of Vogue after a rumored falling-out with The Boss, photographer Jessica Craig-Martin, the darling of the YBAs (that’s Young British Artists, for the uninitiated) has now taken her subversive social commentary commercial. Last month, Altoids used a Craig-Martin shot to dress up its iconic mint tin. And now Piaget has collared her to help relaunch its signature Polo watch, a mainstay of eighties opulence, once strapped, the company boasts, to the wrists of Roger Moore and Stefanie Powers (Stefanie Powers?). “Jessica’s photos are very irreverent. She has a good sense of humor,” says Philippe Leopold-Metzger, Piaget’s CEO. “We watch-people, we tend to be very boring.” They are hoping three teaser campaigns using Craig-Martin’s edgy, sexy shots will peak the interest of up-and-coming A-listers. Whether those up-and-comers can afford the $85,000 price tag is another matter.