The annual Imperial New Year’s Lectures occurred yesterday at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Princess Kiko led the hat-wearing ladies of the family in a pale blue rounded pillbox hat made in the same silk as her gown and trimmed with a double bow at the back. While its simplicity could have been boring, I thought the clean lines of the hat were a good compliment to the smocking on the bodice of her dress. Kiko’s younger daughter, Princess Kako (who just turned 20 and now will be attending royal functions) wore a royal blue bumper hat. The brim of the hat was embroidered in the same royal blue bugle beads that trimmed the waist of her gown. This is the first time we have seen Princess Kako in a royal hat and while I don’t expect immediate perfection from our juniour hat wearers, I’m afraid this hat’s shape and shade of blue left me wondering if it belonged to a sailor costume.
Princess Hanako of Hitachi showed some unusual millinery bravado, topping her tawny brown lace gown with a bowler hat entirely covered in coordinating feathers. The short, rolled brim was further trimmed with a looped silk bow at the side. While the colour was not the most flattering of shades, the sheer drama and frivolity of the hat was a welcome sight for the conservative Imperial royals and I thought it was great fun. Princess Nobuko and her daughter, Princess Akiko, however, did not continue with such bold millinery choices. Princess Nobuko wore a dark myrtle green fascinator of curled ribbons (presumably made of straw) that fell flat against her dark gown. Princess Akiko wore a peachy-pink calot hat that again, coordinated perfectly with her gown. All of the monochrome hat and gown combinations left me wondering if entrance was denied those whose hats were not in the exact same hue as their gowns? Kidding aside, my guess is that a strict dress code was in place.
Princess Hisako of Takamado (far right, below) wore what looked to be a dark turquoise bumper hat. Iit looks like the same hat she wore last year’s New Year’s poetry reading (see it here). Princess Yoko of Mikasa (second from right, below) wore a brimless hat that coordinated with her pale blue gown. I suspect it was the same silk pillbox hat she wore to this event in 2014.
While I did not love all of the hats today, I do love to see the Imperial Royal Family honouring a tradition of court dress for these New Years events. We don’t often see gowns and hats in the daytime and it’s such a treat for those of us following royal hats.
Photos from Sankei
The best thing is that they are not all the same.
I adore Princess Hanako’s hat! Bravo!
I am disappointed in Princess Kako’s outfit after her recent splendid shoiwing in her new tiara. That blue seems too harsh for her and I think one of Crown Princess Mary’s calots or casques might suit her better. I like her mother’s dove grey dress but wouldn’t care if I never saw another pillbox. Princess Hisako wins this round for me.
I meant Princess Hanako of Hitachi for the win.
I do like all these outfits, hats and jewels, and they all look elegant and respectful. My wife says she would like to borrow it all, and she especially loved the smocking on the dress worn by Princess Kiko, which reminded her of the smocked dresses she wore as a little girl. You rarely see smocking on adult lady dresses, and here it is tasteful and not too young looking.
Princess Kiko´s pillbox is beautiful in size and color. I would never have thought I would see an adult wearing smock, but this works very well. Lovely detail on an otherwise rather plain court dress.
I agree with the comments of Tatsuya and ladyofthemanor, that the smocking is stunning and I love the simple pillbox with it. I haven’t seen a dress like that before and I would like to own it.
Dear Hat Queen. You have forgotten to mention Her Imperial Highness Princess Hisako of Takamado (the last, from left to right).
Showing great respect as they always do. Everything was fine.
I am perplexed by the Empress. I understand she does not wear a tiara any more because of neck problems. However, she does often wear a small hat, as we have seen many times in this blog. So why wouldn’t she wear a hat to this event? Does anyone know the reason for this?
I think it’s because she’s in her own home, so etiquette says no hat for her. None of the rest of the family’s residences are in the Imperial Palace, so they are ‘visiting’ and therefore wearing hats.
And yes, I agree with HQ that this was not the most successful showing of hats, apart from Princess Hitachi and perhaps Kiko.
The Empress is at her own home (though it’s a palace), so she doesn’t need to put on a hat as she is not going out.
Hope OoS will do a piece on all the different brooches on display.
I like all these hats and outfits. It is great to see Court Dress.