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From the Runway to the Show Pen: Designer-Inspired Horse Show Looks – with Ali Hubbell and Alexis Potts

Need some inspiration for your next look? Horse show fashionistas Ali Hubbell (pictured) and Alexis Potts share runway inspirations for their show clothes and everyday attire.

Trotting down the middle of the pen is the equestrian’s version of strutting down the runway. Just like a model in a fashion show, exhibitors wear beautiful garments made by talented designers. Couture brands create unique and show-stopping pieces that are handcrafted. Taking inspiration from high fashion is a great way to stand out and feel like a superstar in the show pen

We asked two fashionistas and competitors about some of their favorite designers that influence their show and everyday attire, and how it helps them feel their best in the arena. Ali Hubbell, an equestrian photographer and amateur exhibitor, and Alexis Potts, a college athlete and youth exhibitor, shared their expertise with us. 

Horse Show Fashion
Fashionista Ali Hubbell has taken a lot of inspiration from Balmain for her show outfits. Balmain is a French fashion house founded by Pierre Balmain in 1945. Now designed by Olivier Rousting, Balmain is known for its feminine and unique luxury designs. Celebrities such as Beyonce can be seen wearing signature Balmain silhouettes to award shows and premiers alike. The symmetrical designs, impeccable tailoring, and incredible craftsmanship of the outfits easily translate to the equestrian world. 

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Hubbell noted that she has “worked with Melissa Ilic a lot in the past, and a lot of the things we created were based on Balmain designs. She is an incredible artist and can so easily bring my designs to life.” One of these pieces is a showmanship jacket based on a dress from the Fall 19 women’s collection. The dress was “inspired by the rich colors, intricate patterns, and traditional designs of Asia,” according to Balmain. These features translated beautifully into the jacket.

Potts described a show shirt she has that also reminds her of Balmain, who she said is one of her favorite designers. The shirt is “white satin with purple ribbon detailing.” As soon as she saw the piece, the detailing reminded her of Balmain. Potts designed and made the shirt with her mom, who makes all her show clothes. Together, they can “think outside the box and bring their ideas to life”. (pictured below)

Everyday Wear
Both Hubbell and Potts shared their admiration for fashion label Zimmerman and how they enjoy it for their everyday style. Zimmerman was founded by two sisters, Nicky and Simone Zimmerman, in 1991. Nicky started by making clothes in her parent’s garage during fashion school and selling them locally in markets. Despite their humble beginnings, the brand now sells its high-quality designs all over the world. The distinct aesthetic of Zimmerman’s pieces is floral, romantic, and full of lace. Their beautiful pieces can be used as inspiration if someone is looking for a whimsical outfit to wear in the arena.

Potts highlighted that Zimmerman (pictured right) is one of her favorite brands because of “their use of florals, laser cut-outs, and three-dimensional designs.” She added that these could “easily be incorporated into today’s show tops, bringing them to a whole new level.” Besides stylistic reasons, simply the attention to detail and craftsmanship of Zimmerman’s pieces can be mirrored through attire in the show pen. A well-fitting garment is the first step to feeling confident. 

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The importance of confidence
When asked about her everyday style, Hubbell described it as “eclectic.” Similarly, she views her style in the show pen as different and unique. She loves Anthropologie and Free People for casual wear and mentioned BCBG, and Dolce & Gabbana for black tie. She added, “I prefer things no one else has. However, I know how to dress for my body type,” which she feels is very valuable. Most of all, she thinks people should wear what they love. Her favorite quote is “Look Good. Feel Good. Ride Good”. What’s most important when choosing an outfit or inspiration for a new look is that you feel confident in it. 

As a college student, Potts describes her everyday style as mostly athleisure. She is an apparel merchandising major at Auburn and is able to learn about up-and-coming brands that help inspire her. She uses this to her advantage by finding unique pieces, such as “a fun pair of shoes or style of clothing.” Adding on, she notes it’s exciting to “learn about these pieces before they hit the general public.”

Creating show clothes with her mom is a great way for Potts to stand out and feel confident. When she designs with her mom, she thinks, “It is so awesome to see an accumulation of ideas come together.” Potts utilizes her everyday style and inspiration from designer fashion to create looks that help her feel confident and positive in the show pen. 

At the end of the day, exhibitors should choose show clothes that help them feel their best. Taking inspiration from designer brands can open up a whole new world of fashion possibilities, and increase confidence. Hubbell and Potts both find joy in creating unique outfits that help them stand out from the crowd. Next time you need inspiration for a new look, consider flipping through the pages of a fashion magazine.


About the Author: Kendall Lance is a third year at the University of California, Davis studying Communications and Professional Writing. Along with her studies, she serves as the Horsemanship captain of UC Davis’ Division One Equestrian team, and Communications Director of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Before entering college, she showed the all-around at AQHA and APHA competitions
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