Baltimore style designer aims to convert heads with her exceptional consider on hats for Preakness – Baltimore Sunshine

Preakness may perhaps be a collecting centered around horse racing, but for Baltimore indigenous Lacey Johansson, who has been attending festivities for many years, the hats steal the demonstrate.

“I just appreciated the hats, and it is a exclusive working 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 celebration as a toddler and grew up heading to the horse races virtually each yr. “It’s just a whole lot of enjoyable to get dressed up and just take the time to consider about what you’re heading to put on.”

What to don is crucial, because Preakness, established for May 21, is not just about becoming stylish, but standing out.

“I want to have a hat that no a single else has,” Johansson claimed. “I like to be diverse and [Preakness is] form of the 1 place that I’m really style forward. I like to make a statement.”

Social media influencer and Baltimore indigenous Morgan Moses-Allen, who has attended Preakness and also noted the trendsetters, said the function prioritizes the head-turning hat.

“There is anything unique to Baltimore about having a sure style of hat, a little something that stands out, anything that’s distinctive,” Moses-Allen, 35, explained. “Every time I would go or another person would invite me, it was often a concern about your hat, like, ‘What type of hat are you donning?’”

And that’s in which Ashley Clark comes to the rescue. Clark is the founder, designer and CEO of Soigné Luxury Extras, headquartered in Fells Issue.

“A ton of the time I make hats that I simply cannot uncover out there,” the 34-yr-previous entrepreneur mentioned. “I usually say I structure for the amazing, not the regular. There are no plain bagels in my customer roster. “

Soigné started as a vivid aspiration that felt so genuine it led Clark to fall out of legislation faculty. She traveled to France to review the craft, took millinery classes from Hat Academy, and commenced building hats for friends all-around 2016.

In 2018, Clark formally launched Soigné and started the business’ transformation from a aspiration to a brand name that has faithful clients and a popularity for jaw-dropping patterns.

For very last year’s Preakness she designed a hat for Moses-Allen that showcased remote-managed feather butterflies. The layout made headlines.

“Morgan’s hat was on the protect of Usa Nowadays,” Clark reported, describing how she hand-painted feathers to craft the hat and butterflies. “They fluttered on her head.”

The pandemic forced Clark to check out other add-ons this sort of as headbands, earmuffs, jewelry and additional.

“Hats are the adore of my daily life, honestly,” she reported. “All of the other goods came about because of COVID. I did not want to hearth my employees and we experienced a bunch of fabric and things lying around, and we just pivoted. It was like: ‘how can you glimpse excellent from the neck up in pajamas on a Zoom contact throughout COVID?’”

Clark opened a brick and mortar in Boston in November 2020, but she swiftly “outgrew” that locale. She beforehand lived in Baltimore for 9 years, the place she participated in pageants, worked as an NFL cheerleader and researched in graduate college. When it was time to expand, the CEO realized the area would be an reasonably priced option to improve her organization.

“Baltimore plays these a big position in this journey simply because of the affordability and then there’s horse racing and that area of interest marketplace,” Clark explained. “But folks do not notice that Baltimore has a kaleidoscope of fashion that also inspires me on a every day basis.”

A long-standing Baltimore fight of local aesthetic also influences Clark’s types.

“There’s this preppy aspect of Baltimore, in which there’s women in the county, and it is extremely Brooks Brothers, and J. Crew,” she reported. “Then you have this sensational street manner that has so considerably frame of mind and aptitude.”

“And when you merge people two things with each other, you get this wonderful fashion market that is the town. And to me, it provides me lifestyle and propels me ahead,” the designer reported.

Immediately after gutting the setting up, Clark opened her Fells Point location on Thames Street last August.

“I was lucky simply because the spot that I’m in employed to be a retail retailer, so it experienced superior bones,” she explained.

All those bones have stretched out to a system of do the job that consists of an once-a-year assortment of 55 hats in addition person consultations, life span client hat blocks (molds of clients’ head designs and sizes) and personalized creations. Soigne’s 2022 hat assortment is influenced by billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk lately exploring room, and the often trending cryptocurrency discussions.

“The new collection is identified as Sexual House Odyssey — it is the derby on the moon. So think of a good deal of lace, a ton of leather-based, a good deal of faux bouquets, a whole lot of taxidermy,” Clark reported. “We have sections that move, we have area helmets, we have airplanes in which the cockpit lights up on a hat that is wrapped in this sumptuous and boss leather. It’s variety of wild.”

Items from her new selection and custom made creations will be on comprehensive display screen at the Preakness.

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“Morgan’s hat this year is 3-feet vast,” Clark said, spilling some of the tea about Moses-Allen’s brilliant pink Preakness glance ahead of Saturday’s big function.

“I’m going to have to change to walk in the doorways,” Moses-Allen laughed. “It’s also not going to be your traditional hat on your head. It’s far more like a framework.”

Clark is also designing Johansson’s 2022 Preakness glance, crafting the hat all-around a jungle topic.

“It’s likely to be one of those wherever it is around a person eye, form of tilted down with black and white and pink hues in the course of,” mentioned Johansson, who has been buying Clark’s custom creations due to the fact 2018.

The designer also results in complimentary matching add-ons with her hat models. For example, she will give tips for a partner’s glance this sort of as a coordinating bow tie, lapel pin and handkerchief, all keeping to the similar concept.

Johansson claimed Clark offers “the complete 9 yards,” but that’s not the only cause Soigné hats are fantastic for Preakness.

“It’s a lengthy working day, so I think the most vital component is that it suits,” mentioned Johansson. “It does not go, it stays on your head, you never have to get worried about it blowing away.“