Welcome to the first day of Royal Ascot 2013! I am thrilled to welcome British Milliner Katie Vale of Katie Vale Designs to the blog! Katie, who makes some wonderful hats, is joining us this week to chat about hats and share her millinery expertise. So with no further adieu, here is our review of the royal hats we saw today for the first day of the Royal Ascot Races.
The Queen in Rachel Trevor Morgan
Katie Vale: I love the soft pink colour, she doesn’t wear it very often. The shape of the hat suits her and this is very popular with the Queen, we saw her wear this exact same shape on Saturday for Trooping of the Colour. It’s come from the same block. The pink straw is lovely and the loops add an element of modernity to it. If it was just a flower on there it would be too dull.
Royal Hats Blog: I absolutely adore this hat. The brim size is lovely on the Queen and I agree that the colour is just wonderful on her (without looking twee). My first thought was that the side bow loops make this hat interesting but you’re right- it makes it modern and fresh. I love the graduated layers on the brim and crown- one more soft and subtle bit of interest on this hat. The crown shape looks different to me than the one she wore on Saturday (less diagonal on top) but no matter! All in all I agree- it’s a beautiful hat.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum of Dubai and Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, Princess of Jordan, Sheikha of Dubai
Katie Vale: Urm…..she has orange flowers on her hat and lime & lilac flowers on her dress. This doesn’t work for me at all. It looks like it’s been in the bottom of her wardrobe for years and she’s found it squashed under a pile of shoes……and has just plonked it on her head. This is not for me. Sorry!
Royal Hats Blog: I agree- this looks seriously disjointed. The rough weave of the hat does not work with the very elegant and formal lines of her dress. The flowers are flat and the large keyhole just looks awkward.
Queen Mesenate Mohato Seeiso of Lesotho
Katie Vale: I like the apple green colour, it’s very fresh. But it doesn’t go with her dress. We’ve seen lots of skull caps and disc hats this week, and I’d say this is the least successful. To me, the skull cap and the disc look completely separate are and not joined smoothly. It looks like a disc just balancing on top of it! Which is a shame because actually I love the flower and material.
Royal Hats Blog: I want to like this hat- like Katie, I love the colour and the flower embellishment. There’s just something wonky about how the top of the hat is attached to the cap. It looks like a gust of wind might set it teetering back and forth.
The Duchess of Cornwall in a design by Philip Treacy
Katie Vale: Camilla always wears a big hat with a very wide brim. This upturned brim is typical Camilla style, but the crown has an unusual shape to it too, leaning to one side. To get a bright white is quite unusual and she likes her muted tones, so it’s nice to see this on her. I like the unusual knotted design too. I think it softens what could be a very harsh hat. It suits the outfit, I’d just like to see her in a little more colour.
Royal Hats Blog: I had no idea that getting a bright white straw was unusual! Camilla has many large-brimmed cream coloured hats (she has worn the ones here, here, here, here and here in the past eight months alone!) and while I like a neutral hat from time to time, I would like to see her in more colour as well. That being said, this hat is a beautiful shape and I really like the pleated band and knot around the crown. That feature really makes this hat.
Princess Anne, The Princess Royal
Katie Vale: The colour is lovely but the crown is too complicated. It’s too high, has draped material and a flower! I’m not a fan. But it is very delicate and light weight so matches her outfit very well. I love the feathers but the boxy crown and the fabric draping is not a good look. Maybe 50% smaller it would be better?
Royal Hats Blog: I also really like the colour but I find the hat too big for her. Anne is wearing a great tailored suit and the fussy, voluminous hat just isn’t flattering. I find this hat tired and dated.
Princess Eugenie in a design by Nerida Fraiman
Katie Vale: I actually really like this. It’s a cream sinamay disc with a black crin edging and loose knot on it. I love the simplicity of it, yet it also has loads of wearability as it could go with anything! She’s definitely got it right with this one. The only thing I would say is that it needs to be pushed up a little more so that it is more of an angle and a little more upright. From the side view (below with Princess Beatrice) seeing the make of Eugenie’s makes me love it even more 🙂 Gorgeous!
Royal Hats Blog: Princess Eugenie continues her streak of amazing hats! This one seems very modern but still light and pretty which is a great look for her, I think. This hat gets two thumbs up from me.
Princess Beatrice in a design by Nerida Fraiman
Katie Vale: What can I say? But from the side (photo above) it just looks like a large grey crin pancake on her head. There is little shape to it. From the other side (photo above with Princess Eugenie) it just makes me squint even more! It is also very light in contrast to her very heavy brocade jacket! This doesn’t do it for me! Sparkly metallic base……not working…..especially with that outfit! Put it this way……I’d not let it go out of my studio!
Royal Hats Blog: It’s another very disjointed look. Lace, net, brocade, polka dots- it’s too much. The combination of this hat and coat does not work. I’m not sure the hat would works for her at all. The brim is too flimsy and I don’t like the overall shape. I’ll pass on this one as well.
The Countess of Wessex in a design by Jane Taylor
Katie Vale: I’m a big fan of colour blocking and it’s everywhere at the moment. But to me this isn’t the right blue. It might just be the sunlight, but it either needs to be an exact match or a completely different shade of blue altogether. I also think she’s wearing it in the wrong position. Fascinators like this are either on the side or completely central…..rather than be positioned at 12 o’clock or 2 o’clock, she’s stuck at 1 o’clock! However…..I like the idea and design, and the flowers are fine where they are. And I actually really like the over-sized edging. It’s still worn incorrectly though I think 🙂
Royal Hats Blog: I think this is a fantastic hat! I love the colour, shape, flower trim, and the position Sophie is wearing it! It is a beautiful percher hat and, I think, my favourite hat of the day!
The Prince of Wales and the Duke of York
Katie Vale: They are in traditional top hat attire- worn as expected and made in the standard way. I have to say, a top hat can be extremely expensive. The reason for this is due to the sheer amount of work that goes into them! They take days and days to make!
Royal Hats Blog: Only the British men can wear a top hat and make it look handsome (and not ridiculous). I had no idea they are so labour intensive (they certainly look simpler than most of the women’s hats).
Viscountess Linley in a design by Stephen Jones
Katie Vale: I love this hat! The bright pink plummage is stunning! And it really goes well with her coat. I also like the beret style design. It’s very reminiscent of the 20s which is so “in” at the moment with The Great Gatsby film out. But I’d say so far out of all the designs this is the one that I would be wearing!
Royal Hats Blog: For an all feathered hat, it’s quite good. A pillbox covered in feathers doesn’t sound like a great idea to me but it’s a fun hat that actually works. This shade of magenta pink is also very striking on Serena. It’s interesting how a movie can influence hat fashion so much!
Lady Helen Taylor in a design by Stephen Jones
Katie Vale: The black satin material is way too heavy for her delicate dress. They have draped the satin which makes it look even larger and heavier. Also this is very modern, but her dress is very old fashioned looking…..so the two just don’t work. Some times opposites like that work, but for me this is a big no no.
Royal Hats Blog: I think this looks like a huge piece of fabric rolled up and stuck it on her head. I’m not a fan.
Princess Michael of Kent
Katie Vale: OMG! I love this! My favourite so far! The upturned brim is lovely as it’s quite delicate; and the white feathers are stunning! I love the very shallow crown that you can see on the hat….and the echo of the flowers that are placed in the bowl of the hat as well as underneath it. High 5 for this hat!
Royal Hats Blog: Princess Michael wore this hat to the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation earlier this month. For that event, I thought it was a little much. I think it’s a much better hat for Ascot. I’m not personally a fan of all the roses but Marie-Christine does have a penchant for dramatic hats and this one certainly is dramatic!
There were a few noteworthy hats worn by non-royals today: Lady Penny Romsey, Danielle Lineker, Ruth Langsford, The Earl and Countess Spencer, Katherine Jenkins, Aishwaya Rai and Isabella Kristensen (who was one of the attendants at the wedding of Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco)
Katie and I will be back tomorrow with more hats from Ascot!
Photos from Getty as indicated