The Hat Attack

While recently in London, I stopped by the Victoria and Albert Museum for the recently concluded Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones. The exhibition featured a handpicked assortment of hats grouped by materials and styles (think “turbans”, “plastic”, “geometric” and “nature-inspired”) which Jones felt best illustrated the limitless sources of millinery inspiration.

Catering to the knowledgeable couture-wearer and the fashion-layman, the exhibition included hats worn by the fashion elite, such as several sported by Anna Piaggi, alongside famous cinematic caps, like Audrey Hepburn’s pink straw and silk bonnet from My Fair Lady. Some might say millinery is an oft-unappreciated art, but it was hard to believe that in a room full of people ooh-ing over beaded appliqué flowers and watching videos on top-hat construction. And as Jones – himself a legendary milliner for celebrities and designers alike – points out, when someone wears a fabulous hat, they command attention!

“A hat makes clothing identifiable, dramatic – and, most importantly, Fashion…It’s the cherry on the cake, the dot on the ‘i’, the exclamation mark, the fashion focus.” -Stephen Jones

Today hats are often sold in department stores, making the nostalgic allure of a hat shop (and those scrumptious hat boxes!) even more endearing. Milliners were originally supposed to recommend face-flattering hat styles to wealthy clientele who could swan around the showroom selecting fabrics. And fun fact: apparently Lilly Daché, a milliner in New York in the 30s even had colour coded celebrity fitting rooms: gold for blonds and silver for brunettes.

All this hat knowledge intake made me feel a bit giddy, and upon my return home, my sister and I decided to embark on a little headgear hunt of our own. Bottom-line: family is an EXCELLENT source for hats – vintage and contemporary alike…seriously, one man’s (or father’s specifically) Indian Jones fedora is another girl’s indie cap and grandmothers knew sunhats were cool even before skin cancer. As the summer heats up, I can’t wait to search out new wide brims, remembering “however, the cardinal rule of hat-buying, as French fashion editor Genevieve Dariaux noted, is to ‘take the one you fall in love with, which mysteriously ‘does something’ for you, which magically makes you feel more beautiful.’”

Amen to [t]hats!

text & photography // Esmé Hogeveen