Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski never intended to come back from the Winter Olympics in Sochi as the new hot fashion commentators, and yet, here we are. After being a hit on the Oscar red carpet, the pro ice skaters will take their talents to the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday, appearing throughout the NBC broadcast to discuss everything from the outfits to culture.
The duo will appear in pre-taped bits during the coverage on Saturday on NBC, and also hang around afterward to analyze the fashion. Because yes, the Derby is about horses — but it’s also about hats.
“Obviously the race is the most important part of day and that’s why everyone’s there. But I think that what’s so great about sports is that nowadays … there’s so much more entertainment that’s a part of the event,” said Lipinski on a conference call this week. “And, you know, the race is two minutes. But so many people come and so many people put so much thought into what they’re going to wear.”
That’s especially true for celebrities; Derby Day outfits have only grown more outrageous through the years, especially as more reality TV stars clamoring for the spotlight show up. Though some fans of the timeless tradition may not like it, isn’t that just part of the fun? Weir thinks so, and can’t wait to chime in on all the trends.
“I think that’s what is so amazing about the Olympics and the Kentucky Derby, as an example, that there is drinking and partying and fashion and celebrity and all of these things that go into it,” he said. “It’s not just an NHL or NFL or NBA game that happens almost every night and there’s some tall man shooting a ball in a basket almost every night on my television. These are actual cultural events and that’s what makes the fashion side of things so exciting.”
Plus, the intriguing blend of Southern culture and high-profile designers. “The very rich Southern charm that comes through the Kentucky Derby makes it really unique,” Weir added. “You don’t really think of Kentucky and fashion together. So it’s their shining moment for the year with fashion.”
No, there won’t be any scathing critiques of the outfits afterward: This isn’t “Fashion Police.” There’s already enough snarky fashion reporting on TV, Weir said. He and Lipinski aim to celebrate the artwork of it all, especially appreciating how hard designers work and how much money it costs to make everything perfect.
Things to look for this Derby Day, according to Weir: Spring colors and pastels, such as orange or emerald or mint green. The only fashion faux pas he warns against is wearing material that’s too heavy: He made the mistake of wearing a Chanel tweed suit to the Derby in 2010 and nearly suffocated from the heat.
But most important, of course, are the hats.
“The hat is the most fun part,” Lipinski declared. “And I can’t really think of any other event, especially a sporting event, where the hat is the main focal point, and pretty much makes the entire outfit.”