Like most in Middleburg, she was bitten by the horse bug, and indulged that passion for 20 years before returning – a mere six years ago – to fashion. She now designs day and evening wear for ladies and gentlemen near her Pigeon Hill Farm atelier in Berryville, less than one hour from Washington. For the coming social season and spring races, Karen suggests donning “a lovely lightweight wool suit in pale green or mottled pink.”
Wendy Pepper, Middleburg’s most well-known designer, gained national attention three years ago during the first season of Bravo cable channel’s Project Runway. For the steeplechase races, she advises: “Comfort, comfort, comfort. The weather is very changeable in the spring. Dress carefully and dress smart.
“Nothing is more comfortable or breathable than cotton.” Wendy says. “Bring a nice sweater and a flask, and you’re ready to meet anyone. While going up and down the grandstands, in and out of hot tents, pressing the flesh with the crowds, and seeing old and new friends, comfort is the key,” she says.
Wendy recently expanded her horizons with a ready-to-wear sportswear collection called Pretty World (W. P. reversed). “I’m using vibrant colors and punchy printed knits for sporty separates which can be combined to create individual looks or used to accent the perfect pair of jeans or evening skirt you already own,” she says.
She’s also making new pieces all the time and can frequently be found at her sewing machine at Mark Metzger’s Highcliffe Clothiers. The haberdashery, which offers custom designed suits and shirts for men, has recently relocated from the city to South Madison Street in Middleburg. And, as if all this work was not enough, Wendy continues her haute couture business from her studio in the village … by appointment only.
Troye Plaskitt has opened her new shoe salon, Nobel Nielson, on the other side of South Madison Street. After studying English Literature and theater at University of Virginia and traveling through Europe, Troye went off to work in New York City’s fashion industry.
Troye first worked with Calvin Klein Classifications (later renamed Calvin Klein Classics) and later at Ralph Lauren Women’s Wear. However, “the commute from Middleburg was horrendous,” she says. She took a local job restoring furniture and also worked with Nancy Bedford and the latter’s Welsh ponies (Middleburg women and their horses are a constant). She worked in several shops in the village and eventually decided to start one of her own.
The several lines of classic shoes Troye carries include the Italian-made Franchetti Bond (sturdy handsome flats with accents of a snaffle bit, bamboo, or tassel). These elegant yet simple suede flats come in classic colors: cobalt blue, black, emerald green, bright red, and on and on. Troye discovered these shoes while strolling through Burlington Arcade in London and immediately tracked them to the source. She also tracked down Stephen Bonanno, the original cobbler of those well-known multi-colored Palm Beach sandals.
On a fashion spree in Middleburg, one can track down all types of places to indulge. Who knows, you might even spot a famous fashion plate like Luciana Pedraza, the stunning wife of actor Robert Duvall. “Fashion in Middleburg is timeless, it’s never too provocative,” designer Karen Ewbank concludes. “It always has taste. That’s very important around here.”
Touring the County’s Farms
For anyone who wants a peek inside some of the Middleburg estates, the Trinity Episcopal Church Annual Hunt Country Stable Tour will take place on Memorial Day Weekend (May 24 and 25). The Trinity Episcopal Church, an Upperville landmark, is an architectural adaptation of a 12-13th century French country church. The native Virginia sandstone complex was given to Meade parish by Bunny and her late husband, Paul Mellon, in 1960.
As part of the self-driving tour to visit many of the thoroughbred breeding farms, show hunter barns, fox hunting barns, and country estates, visitors can stop at Mrs. Mellon’s Rokeby. The famous courtyard barn has provided exquisite shelter for many leading races horses such as Quadrangle, winner of the Belmont, Wood Memorial, and Travers Stakes in 1964; 1993 Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero; and champions Fort Marcy and Mill Reef. There will also be beagle demonstrations. (For the uninitiated, “beagling” is the sport of hunting hare with a pack of hounds bred especially for this purpose; it is done on horseback as well as on foot.)
Other stops on the stable tour include: Edie and Bruce Smart’s Trappe Hill Farm, Joe and Laura Cramer’s Fox View Farm (where they will have side-saddle riding demonstrations), Lou and Bill Kennedy’s beautiful private PeakeWood Pharm, and Maggie Bryant’s 1,037-acre Locust Hill Farm, a working farm with thoroughbred racehorses, Angus cattle, and horse-quality hay. What more could one ask for? All proceeds support Trinity Church: for details, call 540 592-3711.