OBVIOUSLY we’re not done with them yet — NBC’s Sochi darlings Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir/my favorite people on Instagram will serve as the network’s official Fashion Experts for this weekend’s Kentucky Derby. This may be the first year ever that I actually care about Churchill Downs.
The figure skating duo, who have been giving E!’s super tired “Fashion Police” dynamic a run for their money, stepped in just last month to offer their opinions on the Oscars red carpet (Cate Blanchett was declared Weir’s “spirit animal”) for NBC on “Access Hollywood” and “The Today Show.” This weekend’s format will be similar — most of the segments will be pre-taped so the duo can “enjoy the race and hang out” — and will provide what we’re told is a “cultural look inside the Derby.” So Lipinski and Weir will provide an in-depth look at the rich history of the races while also talking about hats!
And — let’s be honest — it’s all about the hats.
“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,” said Weir during a conference call with reporters yesterday. “These are actual cultural events and that’s what makes the fashion side of things so exciting. And of course there’s the hats, the very rich southern charm that comes through the Kentucky Derby which makes it really unique. You don’t really think of Kentucky and fashion together. So it’s their shining moment for the year with fashion.”
But what will they be wearing? Lipinski said she was looking at options from Ted Baker, David Meister, and Oliver Tolentino, while Weir said he’ll be going for “a bit of vintage — and of course Christian Louboutin.” Plus a hat by Kerin Rose Gold of A-Morir, that we were told will be Pegasus-themed. (!!) Weir said he wore Chanel tweed to the last derby he attended in 2010 and with the heat and humidity, it was just “not cute.”
Footwear was also a big concern for Weir, noting that the women who make their way into the winner’s circle wearing sky-high heels tend to sink their way into the mud. A definite no-no that Lipinski stepped in to protest: “Absolutely not.” “You will sink in the mud,” said Weir. “It’s OK, you can hold me.” “I will carry you. I will carry you in my papoose carrier and I will take you there.”
And don’t you dare question their qualifications. The two agreed they have a strong affinity for not only fashion — but horse culture, both having equestrian backgrounds. Weir, who grew up in Lancaster County, had a dapple grey Arabian named Shadow: “He just was my everything and my best friend and the love of my life when I was young.”
And as a young girl in Texas, Lipinski was given a white Arabian named Moonray by her parents in hopes that she would “stray away from skating.” (What.) When the hobbies became too expensive, Lipinski said her parents then gave her an ultimatum between skating or Moonray and she made the “worst decision of [her] life.”
“I’ve been telling them this story that since I found out I was going to the Derby,” she said. “Trying to make them feel bad that they squashed my horse dream.”
An Olympic gold at age 15 and best friend like Johnny — I think you might be doing OK, Lipinski.
The network will begin its Derby Day coverage at noon on NBCSN and 4 p.m. on NBC.Rachel Raczka can be reached at email@example.com and tweeted @rachelraczka.