Artist & Model Resources
A note to all KMAC Couture 2024 Potential Applicants
The title "Runway for the Roses" is not necessarily meant to be taken literally and should not act as a limiting factor in your design.
We encourage you to think outside of the "red rose" box and explore your creativity when creating the concept for your submission. Design submissions do not need to include roses. Artists can incorporate any aspect of the Derby that they feel most connected to.
Please take a close look at the curatorial statement below, written by KMAC Museum's Curatorial Director Joey Yates.
KMAC Couture 2024 Theme
"Runway for the Roses"
In recognition of the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby in 2024, the 12th edition of KMAC
Couture will honor one of Louisville’s most famous institutions and most notable traditions. For
generations, the pageantry and fashion that accompanies the annual Run for the Roses has
been a grand celebration of what many refer to as “the most exciting 2 minutes in sports.”
While it is an event that brings together many different cultures from around the globe, it
showcases a particularly exotic grandeur and snazzy decadence that could only come from
Kentucky. Like the Derby, KMAC Couture is set in the heart of the Spring season, and this year’s
theme looks to the resplendence of the time-honored event that occurs each year under the
twin spires of Churchill Downs, along with the bright colors, hats, flowers, mint juleps, and
horses that make our city and region one of the most unique in the world.
The rose has a place throughout art history as a symbol for power, royalty, beauty, love,
sensuality, and mysticism. Soon after the first race in 1875, the rose quickly became the official
flower of the Kentucky Derby. Every year, for over a century, at America’s most historic track, a
lush garland of 554 red roses continues to be draped over the greatest equine champions.
This year, KMAC encourages designers to think about and create an extraordinary wearable
artwork that harmonizes with the sartorial image of Louisville on the first Saturday in May. The
strongest submissions will incorporate an element of wonder or surprise. With 150 years of
fashions to inspire your design, a look could allude to the original formal wear of the Derby, the
over the top Edwardian opulence of long dresses and wide brimmed hats for women (often
trimmed in feathers or even completely stuffed birds, or adorned with ribbons and flowers) and
dark, well fitted suits for men that featured various combinations of top hats, bowler hats, bow
ties, ascots, and high buttoned up collars. While some of these styles are still referenced today,
there have been many updates throughout the years to match the modern era, particularly with
the infusion of bright colors for men and dresses with more contemporary silhouettes.
We look forward to seeing you on April 13, 2024 for KMAC Couture Runway for the Roses.
KMAC Museum Curatorial Director
Submissions for KMAC Couture 2024 are open!
Submissions close Sunday, December 3rd, 2023 at midnight EST.
If chosen to be a KMAC Couture 2024 selected Artist you will be notified by early January 2024.
More information regarding KMAC Couture 2024 modeling opportunities will be posted in January 2024.
Notes on the 2024 Theme
The name Runway for the Roses serves mostly to bring recognition to the 150th running of the KY Derby on May 4, 2024. The title reflects the garland of roses that is draped over the winning horse each year. Design submissions do not need to include roses. Artists can incorporate any aspect of the Derby event they feel most connected to. We have listed some examples of inspiration sources below.
Derby fashions have been evolving for 150 years. We suggest doing a little research into what some of the major trends have been over the past century and half. Since the beginning there have been elements of glamor in how people dress for the Derby, most of which stem from the high fashions of late 19th and early 20th century England, which were quite popular from the time when the first Derby Day occurred in 1875 and into the early 1900's. Most notable are fancy hats and long dresses that became more narrow and high waisted as the years went by.
Into the modern era we still see a similar elegance, but infused with more contemporary silhouettes and brighter colors.
If a designer is looking to explore other aspects of the Derby rather than the evolving fashions of racing fans, then the jockey silks could be a good area to explore. The silks are the uniforms that the jockeys wear during official racing. They are often bright and colorful so that the commentators and the fans can better identify the horses and the riders as they move around the track. Silks typically have bold geometric patterns or letters that represent the owner's name. Patterns with circles, stars, squares and triangles are common, as are checkered patterns and designs with vertical, diagonal, or horizontal stripes.
If unconventional materials are more exciting to explore, a design could incorporate racing programs, betting tickets, or sculptural elements that form into the famous twin spires of Churchill Downs.
Looks could also honor the equine champions themselves. Horses vary in color, most generally referred to in tones of gray, black, bay, chestnut, and dun. There are terms that further describe the diversity of horse coats such as palomino, buckskin, appaloosa, pinto, sorrel, and tobiano, among many others.
There are unlimited sources of inspiration- be creative and have fun!
Artist Submission Packet 2024
KMAC Couture 2024 Submission Documents
Prepare what you need before applying!
(Needed for each designer)
Artist Contact Information
School Information (If applicable)
Photos of Previous Work (if applicable)
IF APPLYING AS A TEAM: Pick a primary artist before applying- primary artists handle all communication with KMAC staff through the submission process.
Submission Design Information
(Needed for each design submission)
Sketch of the Design
List of Materials to be used
At least 1 paragraph relating the design to the curatorial statement
The Artist Experience
Watch as KMAC Couture 2019 artists discuss what it's like to participate!
Cinematography and Editorial: Bailey Boyd