Hats Off to the Hat Contest at Opening Day in Del Mar

The most sought after contest at the Del Mar Races!



owner, Deena Von Yokes

Deena Von Yokes

From the beginning, the Del Mar Race Track Opening Day were a party like no other, a playground of the stars where high society gathered in a spectacle of beauty, finery and competitive spirit. But in the 1930’s, what Bing Crosby might have seen as the most commonplace of things, the wearing of a hat, morphed into one of the most fun and anticipated fashion scenes of the year, The Hat Contest on Opening Day. Get to know the person in charge of this years contest at the races. 

The five categories, Most Glamorous, Best Fascinator, Best Flowers, Best Racing Theme and Funniest/Most Outrageous, usually attract hundreds of contestants. Winners receive a wide array of prizes from various sponsors, among them, Studio Savvy Salon in Rancho Santa Fe, which plays an integral part in the contest.  

And not many know fashion like Studio Savvy’s owner, Deena Von Yokes.  At the early age of 17, when most teenage girls were busy daydreaming, Deena was already cutting, styling and coloring hair. Her mother’s salon was the perfect playground for her talents and she quickly fell in love with the fashion world.

Fast forward 34 years and Deena is still rocking the local glamor scene. Her salon, Studio Savvy, a cornerstone in Rancho Santa Fe, is best known for their crew of color specialists. Having been dubbed a “salon for the perfect blonde,” Deena contests the title.  “Our glam squad doesn’t try to specialize in blondes. It’s just a niche that we happen to be very good at. Personally, I just love working creatively with color. It's important not to be limited in such a creative arena. I think hair is a beautiful art form and I consider myself, above all else, to be an artist.”

With her expertise in all things fashion and beauty, it made perfect sense when Craig Dado of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club approached her with the opportunity to direct, with Joe Cuviello, the famous Opening Day Hats Contest at the Del Mar Races.  

Her experience in the community with events for the Children’s Hospital, National Charity League, Art of Fashion, San Diego’s Top 10 Dressed and her collaboration in the industry with fashion leaders like Zandra Rhodes lend credibility to her new position and make her the perfect spokesperson for the event. “This event is a blast,” Deena commented.  “Fun for the judges, fun for the contestants and fun for the spectators. It’s a great way to honor the tradition of the racetrack’s early days with new creative flair.”

Deena’s fashion tip for the races: This is one day where you don't want to blend in with the crowd. It's a great opportunity to have crazy fashion fun and go big, literally.  It just makes the going to the del mar racetrack opening day, that much fun! Good luck at the contest.