By Christine Fellingham


The Macy’s Kentucky Derby Festival Fashion Show is a full-on style spectacle featuring 33 models, one mega department store, more than a dozen local boutiques and over 145 derby season ensembles. Backstage is the fast-working team from J. Michaels Salon and Spa who curl, crimp and contour each model to breathtaking runway perfection. And they’re ready to coax you out of your comfort zone.



n the evening of Thursday, March 29, Louisville’s biggest annual fashion show will take the Grand Ballroom at Horseshoe Casino by storm. This yearly event that has grown into a multi-media shopping-and-entertainment extravaganza is a perennial sell-out with a packed house of almost a thousand guests. They come for style inspiration served with cocktails and a fabulous dinner. The goal of all involved is to guarantee that these guests leave energized about their style options and inspired to take some risks.

While dressing the army of glamazons has been my job as producer for the last seven years, it’s the beauty gurus over at J. Michaels who create the breathtaking looks that set the tone for Derby season beauty decisions. “We get started right after Christmas,” says J. Michaels owner Jill Higginbotham.

“It’s the largest fashion show in Louisville and it’s one of the best team-building experiences we have all year. It gets our creative juices flowing and makes everyone bring their best ideas forward.”

Those ideas are designed to create runway magic that will translate into real-life makeovers. (The key word here is “translate.”) Higginbotham’s advice on how to interpret what comes down the catwalk? “Don’t be intimidated,” she says. “Avant-garde fashion is an amplified look that comes from something very simple that you can do for yourself. It might be the fact that everyone has curls or bangs and you can consider how to bring that into your style. Or the makeup may seem edgy, but you might see new colors that you can try.”

If you need help applying what excites you to your own hair or face, the salon is, of course, a phonecall away. Says Higginbotham, “We can deliver everything you see in a more wearable way.  The show is all about seeing new possibilities.”

If You Go

The Macy’s Kentucky Derby Festival Fashion Show, which TOPS in Louisville, our sister publication, is joining as the proud media sponsor, takes place on Thursday, March 29, at Horseshoe Casino. Cocktails and shopping with featured boutiques start at 5:30 p.m. and the show begins at 8:00. Dinner tickets start at $75 and lounge seating (including wine and appetizers) is $35. A few VIP experience tickets which include pre-show meetings with our fashion and beauty team, milliners and models will also be available. Go to for information and tickets. But act fast. The show is typically an early sell-out. And the TOPS team would love to see you there!