Dannielynn Birkhead is honoring her mother Anna Nicole Smith.
On Friday night, the 16-year-old and dad Larry Birkhead attended the 34th annual Barnstable Brown Kentucky Derby Eve Gala with a black tulle skirt and shirt with her mom’s Guess campaign photos and rhinestone heels.
“She’s showing off her fashion sense but at the same time paying tribute to her mom,” Birkhead told PEOPLE before the annual event.
Birkhead’s tie matched his daughter’s blouse. “It came from a Guess collection that sold out and she [Dannielynn] saved it for a special occasion,” he said. “It’s done with photos from some of Anna’s best Guess campaigns.”
“We’re both paying tribute because it’s the 20th anniversary of our first meeting,” says Birkhead, who met Anna Nicole at the Barnstable Brown Gala in 2003 as a young photographer covering the annual event that benefits the University of Kentucky’s Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center.
“It seems like yesterday to be honest,” he recalls. I was carrying my camera bags and hoped for a good shot. I got much more. One incident may alter everything. This party gave me that. If I hadn’t been there that night, I wouldn’t have met Anna and had our baby.
The father-daughter pair will attend the 149th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday.
Birkhead and Dannielynn attend every Kentucky Derby. Churchill Downs hosts the first Saturday in May horse racing event in Louisville, Kentucky.
He’s happy that high school student Dannielynn is “on the honor roll and starting to look at colleges.”
She periodically browses her mom’s things in his storage. “There’s some t-shirts and different things she fits in but there’s also some that she’ll say ‘Dad, no thanks, that’s not my style,'” he explains. “There’s also some things that would have to wait,” he says. Some items are exposing and low-cut. She had every size imaginable because she was a range of sizes.”
“Dannielynn is such a great kid and she makes me so proud every day,” he told PEOPLE. I’m shocked she’s old enough to drive! “I was pushing her in a toy car yesterday!”
The pleased father also sent a touching message to his daughter on Instagram with a montage of Dannielynn’s photos.
“My darling baby was born sixteen years ago. “If you want to feel old,” he joked. Many believed the chances were against you, but maybe that was more about me than you. After tragedy, turbulence, and a few infant tantrums, you shine bright and successful. “Proud Dad!”
He explains, “She just has a big heart.”