Righting A Wrong: Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee Hat

Earlier this week, I was doing some hat related research related to “Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen’s Wardrobe” and came across the Royal Collection Trust’s entry of the following famous hat.

1977 Jubliee

Interestingly, the Royal Collection named this hat as the design of Simone Mirman. This immediately piqued my interest as this hat has widely been reported for many years as the work of Frederick Fox. When he passed away in December 2013, numerous sources cited this hat as Fox’s most famous design for the Queen of the 400 hats he made for her over the 40 years they worked together (see articles at The New York Times, The Telegraph and Hat Life).

This set my research sniffers into action so I sent an inquiry to the Royal Collection Trust. Yesterday, I received a note back that the hat is undeniably the work of Simone Mirman- undeniably, as the the collection curator shared, because the hat has a Mirman label is inside of it.

Thus, I need  to issue a full correction with my sincere apologies- this famous hat was made by Simone Mirman. The original feature post of this hat has been corrected accordingly.

I’m incredibly curious about this hat’s long and widespread incorrect identification. How does such a thing happen? Even the 2012 exhibition “Hartnell to Amies Couture By Royal Appointment” at the Fashion and Textile Museum named the hat as a Fox design and included a replica of it, shown below, also attributed to Fox.

Exact replica of Queen Elizabeth’s June 7, 1977 hat without stitching detail as seen on the Jubilee hat.
Fabric and flower trim are leftovers from the original hat and the hat block was used to form both pieces. 

This leaves a lot of questions. While we know Mirman made the Jubilee hat, where did the replica hat come from? Was Fox tasked later with fashioning the leftover bits from the famous hat into a museum display piece? Did Mirman make the replica hat? If so, why didn’t she include one of her labels in the replica hat? And why is Fox indirectly quoted in the articles above acknowledging that this hat was his most famous work?  With both Simone Mirman and Frederick Fox having passed away, these questions will likely remain unanswered. 

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

What does remain, however, is our ability to correctly name Simone Mirman as the designer of this Silver Jubilee hat. My thanks to the Royal Collection Trust for their quick and efficient help. Their first two instalments of “Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen’s Wardrobe” at Holyrood House and Buckingham Palace have been exceptionally informative. I can’t wait for the third part of the exhibition to open later this fall at Windsor Castle.

Photos from Getty as indicated; Royal Collection Trust; Douglas Kirkland via Corbis; Powerhouse Museum; and and Cristina Polizzi

18 thoughts on “Righting A Wrong: Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee Hat

    • The plot thickens substantially with this! Thanks, Peggy, for sharing. But I’m left with a question- How could he have possibly made a hat that has a Simone Mirman label inside?! Somehow, this all just does not make sense. Even if Fox and Mirman made the hat in some sort of millinery collaboration, we wouldn’t end up with just one of their labels inside the hat.

      As I understand, Hardie Ames, who designed much of the Queen’s wardrobe in the 1950s and 1960s, would include the hat he envisioned to go with each dress and/or coat in the original fashion sketch. These were then sent, with fabric samples, on to the milliners, who made the hats. Could it be possible that BOTH Simone Mirman and Frederick Fox were sent this information with a request to make the hat? I’m grasping at straws here, simply trying to understand how one milliner takes credit for a hat verbally (and widely in the press) while another milliner’s label is inside.

  1. That’s really interesting. I’d always thought it was a Fox too due to constant reports. Very odd that it was never corrected by him. I wonder if (as some people have commented), he designed it and she made it. Would be odd for that to have happened though.

    Still, a wonderful and iconic outfit – the template of which was (less successfully) used for Charles and Diana’s wedding. The Queen’s softer silhouette at this time was a good precursor to the boxy outfits she adopted in the 80’s.

    • I saw that outfit, live and in colour, on a hot afternoon in High Park in Toronto, where Her Majesty had graciously come to put a bottle of small trout into the Humber River as part of a re-stocking project. The things we make these people do!!! Anyway, it was a nice bright pink as it appears in most of the photos where she is wearing it. I have seen a few photos that make it look peach-coloured, and they are entirely wrong.

  2. I have always liked this hat. It definitely seems to be a one of a kind. I always thought the flowers were bells. In the pictures of the queen wearing it, it looks pink but it the picture of it alone it looks like a peach color. I love this website, I am so glad I found it!!!!

  3. Curiouser and curiouser, as Alice might say…
    MrFitzroy wonders if perhaps it was a Freddie Fox Design, but for some reason fabricated by Simone Mirman….that would at least be an explanation. Or perhaps the original hat was damaged after Montreal and Ms. Mirman recreated it for the jubilee, but then what about the other copy…neither possibility are particularly convincing. Considering how iconic this particular hat is, it is remarkable that there should be any confusion or conjecture.
    If one looks at the original Amies sketch, the archive credits the hat to Mr Fox, but it also doesn’t mention that it was previously worn for the Olympics opening.

    This does raise another question, in several of the surviving fashion sketches by both Mr Amies, and Mr Hartnell (the PoW investiture outfits come to mind) the hats are shown in situ with the clothing sketch. Does that mean that the clothing designer also conceptualized the hat, and then the milliner interpreted the sketch and made the actual hat…..or perhaps were the sketches done after the hat design had been completed by the milliner and matched to the dress…. It becomes a bit of a chicken or egg question.
    MrFitzroy’s brain is starting to hurt, so will stop speculating.

    Well done HatQueen in working to solve The Great Bells Mystery! Bravo on getting a response direct from the source!

    • Absolutely fascinating to see that in Hardy Amies’ sketch, the hat is credited to Frederick Fox. No wonder there has been so much confusion on this piece!

  4. Even the New York Times called this hat a Fox design! I don’t think you need to apologize. Obviously, this hat was wrongly identified all across the media. Maybe Frederick Fox made the museum display hat and that caused all the confusion?

    I am completely shocked this hat was not new when the Queen wore it for her Silver Jubilee. People must have recognized it from the Olympics.

    You are so dedicated to accuracy and that is part of why this blog is so great. You also have such a humble attitude about corrections. Most other bloggers get offended but you take it in stride. Thank you.

    • I was the guest Curator of the Fashion & Textile Museum exhibition Hartnell to Amies. Freddie Fox hats were included as part of the displays and as it proved impossible to include the original ‘Silver Jubilee Hat’ Freddie not only said that he had made it for the Amies ensemble, but also volunteered to recreate it having found the fabric . Alas, he was already ill and unable to finish it, so we exhibited it in it’s incomplete state. The original ensemble was worn first in Canada with the hat, as is well known. It is extraordinary that a Simone Mirman label should be attached to the original. The design was by Kenneth Fleetwood with Hardy Amies , as seen reproduced in my book on him.

      Incidentally, in another post Simone Mirman is credited with making the hat worn by the Queen at the Investiture of the Prince of Wales. It was of course designed by Hartnell to go with her ensemble and he was complimented on it in a letter from Cecil Beaton, to which he replied that he wanted a Tudor reference. By 1969 Hartnell no longer had an inHouse milliner and used Simone Norman, whose husband gave him financial advice, see my forthcoming biography of Hartnell!!

  5. My favourite hat. — what a back story and excellent detective work. I can see the outline of a mystery series here at Royal Hats, starting with “The Case of the Twenty Five Bells”!

  6. Being Canadian, I was always puzzled by the assertion that this was a new hat for the Silver Jubilee, when I was convinced I had seen it before. Of course this was long before the Internet made it easy to search such things. I am glad you have at least solved that part of the puzzle, Hat Queen.

  7. people always say this was made for the Jubilee but I am convinced this is the exact same outfit Her Majesty wore to open the Montreal Olympics in 1976

    Oh, and well done with your research, Hat Queen!

    • By golly Joanne- you’re right! The hat got so much coverage because of the Jubilee but it was indeed worn to open the Montreal Olympics. This adds another question- why wear a hat with 25 bells (when your 25th anniversary as Queen is just around the corner) to open the Olympic games?!

      Embed from Getty Images

      Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

      • So this hat was a repeat when QE wore it for the Silver Jubilee???? That really surprises me. You’d think she would have sprung for a new one.

        Talk about a lot of mystery for one of QE’s most famous hats!! Thanks for getting to the bottom of it HQ!

  8. “research sniffers” HA! You have some doggone GREAT sniffers.

    Learn something new every day at this blog. You ROCK HatQueen.

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