Though all is quiet for the moment, the thundering of hooves on dirt will soon wake the hearts of Louisvillians, filling their souls (and, hopefully, wallets) with the excitement only the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby can bring.
But where can you go to help build your ensemble for the parties and racing to come? One place for consideration on your Derby fashion list is Pix Shoes of Louisville. Owned and operated by Carol Hampton, the shop has been a Derby and Oaks mainstay for over eight decades, the last two of which have been spent on the corner of Market and Preston.
“I’ve done this since I was 16,” Hampton says. “I worked for my uncle, who had the Pix Shoes out at Hurstbourne [on] Whittington Parkway. We came down here in 1998 and went into a partnership with John Cox and Kerry Gold.”
The current location – which had been another local shoe store before Pix – was originally an extension of the Pix Shoes brand. On the suggestion of her uncle, he, Hampton and Gold took Pix to “where shoes started” in Louisville; the location is along what was once known as Shoe Row back in Louisville’s history.
“Preston Street was known for great shoes [and] discount prices. If you wanted shoes, this is where you came,” Hampton says.
Today, Pix Shoes boasts a devoted customer base and provides a wide assortment of shoes for the various fashion shows held around town. And speaking of fashion, Hampton says the ’70s will dominate the scene this spring.
“A lot of ’70s … color-blocking, thick heels – remember the Nancy Sinatra boots? Not that they’re white boots; I don’t mean that. A man-tailored look is very, very big … capped toes, wing tips for women as well as men. Comfort is definitely on trend this season.”
Though Pix Shoes is known for carrying the likes of Nine West, Carlos Santana (yes, that Carlos Santana) and SAS, the shop’s biggest claim to fame is its hats. Specifically, the hats and fascinators seen around the paddock, grandstand and Millionaires Row of Churchill Downs. Hampton says her shop sells “beaucoups and beaucoups of Derby hats” every year.
“We probably have the largest selection [of Derby hats] of anybody in my area down here. Many of them are one-of-a-kind because people do not want to see what they’re wearing on someone else. There are probably five local artists that buy their bases from me because my prices are phenomenal. We have a great, great business with hats.”
Hampton describes the current state of her hat side of the business as someone having dropped “an Easter bomb” of pastel fabrics all over the place. The explosion, of course, will be turned into hats and fascinators galore, custom-decorated so no two hats will ever be the same, and all for a price few competitors can beat.
Hampton and her crew are also more than happy to fit their customers with the right shoes for their feet, and can coordinate both shoes and hats with whatever dresses the customer plans to wear on the red carpet come Oaks and Derby. VT
By Cameron Aubernon.
Pix Shoes of Louisville
210 S. Preston St.
Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Closed on Sunday