A Swarm of Styles

In yellow and black, fans find corporate village the place to bee

124th Preakness

May 16, 1999|By Sloane Brown and Tamara Ikenberg

The view from the Pimlico clubhouse window yesterday, overlooking the elite corporate village, resembled a swarm of fashionable bees. Many of those Preakness-goers buzzed about in the classic race-day colors of yellow and black.

Perhaps the queen and king were Emily Paterakis and her husband JR, vice president of H&S Bakery. In coordinating yellow shirts, black jackets and shoes, they married fashion with fandom.

"We're always in a Preakness state of mind," said Emily Paterakis. "Everywhere we go."

This year, the Preakness state of mind meant not only keen interest in the race, but also a slavish devotion to keeping cool, as memories of last year's oppressive heat lingered.

"Last year was a nightmare," said Jeanne Rose, 31, who works for Neiman Marcus. Wearing a linen sun dress with mint green, beige and pink horizontal stripes and toting a black Ferragamo handbag, she laughed and added, "It was 150 degrees."

Rose was one of many patrons who came prepared. Many dressed in layers, like Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who wore a hot pink linen suit. She removed the jacket to reveal a white silk shell. A group of executives for various Maryland shipping companies sported cotton-knit golf shirts beneath their standard blue blazers, gleefully announcing their wives had let them off the dress-shirt-and-tie hook.

The overall fashion statement was positively Preakness: little black dresses, straw hats with scarves, long linen skirts, flowing floral dresses. But there was the occasional outburst.

Tania Luzzi, 31, added a bit of Fran Drescher flair to the afternoon. Luzzi is the wife of jockey Michael Luzzi, rider of third-place Preakness finisher Badge. Luzzi's pink and black ensemble, accented by a fluffy pink Betsey Johnson handbag, was bubble-gum couture, from her Chanel shoes to her pink-framed Christian Dior sunglasses.

She also pulled a Sharon Stone, adopting the screen siren's Oscar trick of tossing in a bit of mall culture.

"I have a Gap T-shirt [on]," she said.

The men also strayed a little from the conventional Preakness fashion track.

Los Angeles local John Gleason, retired from the construction business, mixed the Bahamas with Brioni by pairing a tropical shirt and cream-colored blazer.

"It's trifecta chic," he said.

Royal threads turned up as well. Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum -- crown prince of Dubai, United Arab Emirates -- showed up in an obviously expensive Italian suit. The sheik, owner of Preakness runner Worldly Manner, is said to have arrived Thursday afternoon with an entourage of more than 20. On Friday, some of the group went out shopping. At Harborplace, they were rumored to have bought three pairs of boots worth more than $3,000.

Guests of the Preakness Village are rarely known for their thriftiness. Yesterday's scene featured creative exceptions.

The U.S. secretary of the treasury, Mary Ellen Withrow, has worn the same hat for the last four years and adds her own adornments. This year, it was handmade silk roses.

Barbara Manekin Spodak, associate vice president for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, glued a sunflower to her swooping art-deco hat. The hat's peacock feathers whipped in the wind, and she battled to hold onto it, as many women found themselves doing throughout the day.

Rose, in a simple, rounded ivory straw hat, had an even more pressing hat trick to pull off: a post-Preakness dinner sans head wear.

"Fluffing my hair," she said, "will be a concern."

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