The Hat Doctor is more than just a catchy name for a millinery business. Ilana Kogan, MD, is also a full-time radiologist working at her practice on the front lines of imaging during an ongoing pandemic. Along with the entire Commonwealth, Ilana is looking forward to Derby Week, especially this year. Derby 146 may be different in many ways, but the event always holds a special place in Dr. Kogan’s heart. After all, her attendance at Kentucky Derby 131 is how she ”fell in love” with all things Derby. ”It has to be the best people-watching anywhere.”

Ilana Kogan is originally from New York City and moved to Kentucky in 2005 to attend the University of Louisville School of Medicine. That year was her first Kentucky Derby which she attended with some of her classmates. On student budgets, Ilana opted to make her own hat and her friends’ hats by reconstructing and embellishing hats she would find on sale. She later sold those hats on eBay and made a little extra money for schooling. She began crafting her own designs in subsequent years and throughout her residency at Ohio State. More than a hobby, The Hat Doctor morphed into a business partially out necessity, helping pay down her significant student loan debts.

The 2020 fashion trends for this Derby lean toward more vibrant, bold, bright colors as opposed to pastels. Many Hat Doctor clients are requesting either monochromatic looks employing different textures or ”wild multicolored” hats. Comfort is an important factor this year in case mask-wearing is recommended or required. Regarding headwear silhouettes, Ilana prefers ”more creative shapes,” not unlike the avant-garde designs worn in Australia and Great Britain. Fascinators comprise approximately 60% of the business and allow her to ”go wild with the shape” more so than brimmed hats.

Ilana does not duplicate her designs. ”I will never make the same hat twice.” The Hat Doctor hats are also surprisingly affordable especially considering they are handmade, unique works of art. Her hats have won awards including the most sophisticated hat at the 2011 Steeplechase and 2nd place in the 2020 Del Mar Opening Day Hat Contest. She never dreamed she would be in the fashion scene, but encourages others, "Do what you love and you can make it happen!"


The Hat Doctor can be found at TheHatDoctor Etsy shop, on Facebook, and on Instagram. See Dr. Kogan’s designs in person at Lulubelles Boutique in Norton Commons, Rodeo Drive in Holiday Manor, White’s Mercantile in Nulu, and The Swanky Shoppe in Elizabethtown.

Posted on 2020-08-10 by By Dawn Anderson | Photos by Dick Arnspiger