Fashion archivist Julie Ann Orsini, who preserves garments for the likes of Tom Ford and Jason Wu, remembers the ride of her life.

A poster advertising the 1978 Hampton Classic Horse Show in East Hampton, New York

I GREW UP RIDING HORSES. My parents got me a pony before I could walk, and I joke that I was born in the saddle.

When I was 13 years old, I competed in the Hampton Classic Horse Show, a top, AA-ranked show. I put in a lot of hard work mastering the quirks of my horse, a hot-blooded Thoroughbred racehorse named Jim Beam, throughout the year leading up to the competition.

A young Orsini takes the reins, photograph courtesy of Julie Ann Orsini

Orsini, at 13, and Jim Beam competing in the Hampton Classic, photograph courtesy of Julie Ann Orsini

Hundreds of kids entered and were divided into two sections, with hundreds still in each one.

Jim Beam and I put in a solid trip — everything flowed perfectly and I was in the pocket — but I wasn’t expecting a ribbon because he was green to showing.

The judges announced the winners in descending order from tenth to first place.

McClain Ward and horse Lucky Lord 20 compete in the 2012 Hampton Classic, photograph by Shawn McMillen

They were getting pretty close to finishing [and hadn’t called our names], so for a moment I thought maybe I’d get a ribbon — and I did for second place!

I’ve never been happier with being second in my life. To this day, it’s one of my greatest accomplishments.

— as told to The Thick

Did you see? Vintage fashion dealer Gabriel Held takes The Thick Questionnaire, flip through rare Comme des Garçons publications at The Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute Library.


Clockwise from top: Third, first, and second place prize ribbons awarded at a horse show