"The Will's Way" Fourth Exclusive Couture 'Derby Hat'

Will's Way, one of the most popular stallions living at Old Friends, is a magnificent 17-year-old bay stallion who surprised the racing world in 1996 when he beat Louis Quatorze and Editor's Notebook in the Travers Stakes. The strapping son of Easy Goer rocked the racing world once again in 1997 when he defeated Formal Gold and Skip Away in the Whitney Stakes.

To convey this amazing athlete's physical size and warm personality, a wide brim hat in rich chocolate "bay" dupioni silk was created to match his magnificent coat. Multiple tulle layers extending well beyond the brim edge were used to further expand the overall size of the hat. An innovative sash and silk flower design were created in special colors, textures and shapes to bring together all of the elements of this stallion's conformation, pedigree and racing career.

To highlight Will's Way dark mane and tail, black dupioni silk was used for the underbrim to create almost a look of shadow as well as a contrast to the layers above. More than eight yards of black, espresso and chocolate tulle layers, carefully arranged from ascending dark to lighter tones, reflect Will's Way's magnificent coat, mane and tail glistening in the sun. Stunning drama from any angle...

The theme of Will's Way's dark mane and tail returns once again when black is combined with the royal blue and white racing colors of Rudlein Stables to create a truly innovative sash design. Royal blue satin, white dupioni silk and black satin were first layered, one upon the other, pleated, and then pinched to reflect the Stable's signature racing silks design consisting of a series of sharp, angular blue diamonds against a white background.

In celebration of Will's Way's glorious Whitney and Travers triumphs, two luxurious peony flowers were created. Layers of black silk organza and black satin form the background petals and were set in the front and back of the hat, almost like bookends, to balance the overall hat design. The center of each peony was filled with a single hand-rolled white silk organza rose curl, cradled in a wispy layer of delicate blue tulle to reflect the white marking so distinctive on Will's Way's forehead. The center of each rose is filled with blue buttons.

Sally Faith Steinmann of Maggie Mae Designs® has donated each of the hats in the auction, which launched in November 2009 and will conclude with a final hat on the block April 1, 2010, just in time for the First Saturday in May.

To view the hats and to read more about Maggie Mae Designs® go to www.maggiemaedesigns.com.  To bid on the "Will's Way', go to www.oldfriendsequine.org and follow the link.  Bidding will conclude the evening of February 11th.