New Hats For Empress in Vietnam

The landmark visit of the Japanese emperor and empress to Vietnam this week has included four new hats so far for Empress Michiko (see the first one, worn for her arrival, here). On Wednesday, she topped a white suit with a petite new design. The hat features a central saucer with slightly raised edges, and a delicate, transparent lattice underbrim. We’ve seen a few of these lattice underbrims on Michiko’s newer hats- it can’t be easy for her milliners to come up with subtle touches to rev up a saucer hat and this underbrim is a really lovely addition. The hat is trimmed in a knotted silk bow in the same palest celery green as the collar on Michiko’s suit, and five silk leaves. The leaves have a slight seaweed vibe but give a much needed hit of colour to the hat.

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Designer: Likely Akio Hirata
Previously Worn: this hat is new
Today, the Empress wore a twin to this hat with the same raised edge saucer shape and transparent lattice underbrim. The trimming sets these two pieces apart- this second hat is embellished with a flat bow in two-toned grey silk, a grey silk anemone blossom and grey leaves. The floral motif gives this piece some life and movement, even despite its monochrome colour scheme, and works really well with the lattice underbrim and withe the ombre colour effect on Michiko’s suit.
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Designer: Likely Akio Hirata
Previously Worn: this hat is new
As the royal couple departed Hanoi for the former Vietnamese imperial city of Hue today, Empress Michiko donned another new ensemble. Her mushroom greige rimmed saucer hat is trimmed with a double origami bow, each bow in the same fabric as the skirt and jacket of the empress’ suit. Empress Michiko is nothing if not subtle and this ensemble fits this very well. It’s not terrible exciting but I can see it becoming a serviceable, working outfit repeated easily in the future.
Embed from Getty Images


Embed from Getty Images
Designer: Likely Akio Hirata
Previously Worn: this hat is new
I must confess- I imagine the Empress’ millinery closet to be a giant toast rack contraption inserted with row upon row of hundreds of similar saucer hats. The three designs we see here are all in keeping with her very specific millinery style (almost indistinguishable from previously worn hats) with subtle touches between them. Which hat stands out to you here, most?
Photos from Getty as indicated

8 thoughts on “New Hats For Empress in Vietnam

  1. I’m never going to be crazy over the pancakes she slaps on her head, but of the ones here the first is my favorite. I love the subtle green, and the style of the suit itself is nicer than usual. These hats mystify me because I understand that she suffers from headaches; I’m a headache sufferer myself, and I would NEVER be able to wear those elastic straps around my head.

  2. Another vote for hat #1. At first glance, I thought the leaves were feathers — have we ever seen the Empress in a feather-trimmed hat? I like contrast and the motion of the trim. The lattice underbrim is indeed a lovely, subtle touch. The brown is less successful for me. I usually like origami bows on these hats, but this one seems too loose.

    And now I’m having fun imaging that giant toast rack full of saucer hats!

  3. I give another vote to the first hat, although the second outfit is equally interesting. The green on white in #1 is a pretty combination, and that’s more color than one often gets out of the Empress.
    The workmanship on all three outfits — hats and suits — appears to be so precise.

  4. While the first two are very similar, I have to say the very first one wins as my favorite of these three. The trim detail is different enough from other hats we have seen in the past to make it stand out more, and the green against the white also wins my approval. I’m so glad for the closeup photo so we can truly appreciate the design and work that have gone into this hat.

    The floral detail on the grey hat is exquisite, but as the Empress often wears grey, this hat doesn’t quite make the same statement the stark white with green hat does.

    Finally, I agree that the taupe hat and outfit would make an excellent working ensemble for the future.

    What I’ve found interesting with the Empress’ hats is, yes they are quite similar in design, but even more so the color schemes don’t really venture beyond the neutral colors. The green on the first hat, a couple others with green or teal as an accent color, and the pink houndstooth one she’s worn are the only ones she’s worn in the last few years I can think of immediately that don’t fall in the black/grey/brown/blue neutral colors family. Do you think there is any reason behind this? Does she just prefer these colors, or does she wear them as a way to remain “humble” and not draw too much attention to herself during public appearances? We know the Japanese Imperial Court generally has more conservative dress, but I didn’t know if there might be any further reason behind her very sedate color choices, especially since some of the princesses can get quite colorful.

    Personally, I would love to see a revival of the hats worn by the Empress during their 2009 visit to Hawai`i. Those were some great outfits!

  5. I love the first white saucer. There’s such grace in the lines of the different colored leaves. Love seeing these hats, and it’s fun to see three together, especially because as you say they can often blend together.

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