Catching Up With The Imperial Royals

The Imperial royal ladies have been on a vibrant and creative streak with their millinery the past week and a half, something I thought we needed to admire in a dedicated post. Brace yourselves, dearest readers, for some saturated colour!

On  December 1st, the Imperial House Council met to set the date of Emperor Akihito’s abdication for April 30, 2019. Princess Hanako attended the meeting in the most unusual and unique of hats. The design builds on a silk covered helmet shaped base with a very short, flat brim over which lies a voluminous wrap of loosely pleated dark green organza. The design is further trimmed with a vine of green silk leaves wrapped over the crown. It’s a little out there in terms of royal hat designs we’ve seen this year and that it appeared on an Imperial royal head makes me happier than I can express. We’ve called for Imperial royal millinery experimentation and dearest readers- THIS IS IT! Yes, the shape is odd and not terribly flattering but it’s not a standard bowler hat in a pale pastel. The colour is lovely on Hanako and while don’t particularly like the avant garde design, I absolutely adore that Hanako wore it. Happy claps.

Dec 1, 2017 | Royal Hats   Dec 7, 2017 | Royal Hats

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: I believe this hat is new

Last Tuesday, December 5, another jewel toned hat appeared at an Imperial royal function. For a Tokyo ceremony honouring individuals making significant contributions in support for persons with disabilities, Crown Princess Masako donned an deep purply-burgundy felt hat with oxblood pleated hatband in the same fabric as her suit. The brim on this design is a little larger than Masako usually wears and the larger scale is a great change on her. It’s a simple hat but the classically elegant shape is one that works really well for Masako. More happy claps!

Dec 5, 2017 | Royal Hats  Dec 5, 2017 | Royal Hats

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: Nov 10, 2014; Nov 18, 1996

Last Thursday, December 7, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko attended a ceremony marking completion of Tokyo’s new public square New Square in front of Tokyo Station. For this event, the Empress repeated an apricot hued flat saucer hat with hound’s tooth bow and silk flower. It’s not my favourite colour on her but it’s also not grey, something I’m always happy to see! The link between the hat base, the lapels and sleeve panel on the jacket and the skirt does make for a characteristically unified ensemble and the high contrast pattern adds a bit of punch. Happy claps again.

Dec 7, 2017 | Royal Hats   Dec 7, 2017 | Royal Hats

Designer: Akio Hirata
Previously Worn: March 28, 2014
Last Saturday, on the occasion of her 54th birthday, Princess Masako paid a customary visit to the Emperor and Empress at the Imperial Royal Palace. For this visit, she repeated a simple bumper hat covered in blue silk. This style and colour is a more traditional choice but there’s something so calmly beautiful about the subtle sheen on the smooth edges of this hat that makes me really like it on Masako. 
Dec 9, 2017 | Royal Hats 
Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: Dec 9, 2015
And finally, yesterday Princess Hisako attended the 130th anniversary of the Japan Red Cross Society Aichi Prefecture Branch. For her visit to a blood collection center and keynote address at the celebration ceremony, HIsako topped her ice blue jaquard patterned suit with a matching bowler hat variation covering in the same fabric. The hat is trimmed with a slim blue silk hatband that links to the collar on her suit, and a blue net veil wrap studded in blue silk leaves. The leaves on the veil is make an interesting textural addition that I’ve not seen closeup before and their effect keep me going in for a closer look- not something that Imperial royal hats often inspire me to do. I’m not such a fan of the repeated pattern on both the suit and hat but the leaf studded net wrap somehow makes it work.
Dec 12, 2017 | Royal Hats   Dec 12, 2017 | Royal Hats
Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: September 8, 2015May 13, 2015
Dearest readers, there is much here to discuss. We’ve got interesting shape, different proportions and unexpected colour. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on these hats!

17 thoughts on “Catching Up With The Imperial Royals

  1. Happy New Year to all!

    I love the fact that you show us the Japanese imperial ladies’ hats. I can’t say that I follow them all that much but it’s nice to see the contrasting styles. Crown Princess (now Empress) Masala seems to favor bumper hats while Empress (now Retired Empress) Michiko favors those tiny hats on a leaf or other small base. I’m sorry not to be using the correct hat vocabulary but I don’t keep up with hats that much. I’ve worn only one hat in my life, and otherwise use scarves, shawls, and stoles as head covering.

    Princess Hisako’s hat was not bad in of itself. It just seemed too much and too matchy matchy with her suit. I suppose so elaborately textured suit goes well with a plain hat, plain shoes and plain handbag) not necessarily all matching but usually do). I’ve seen pictures of Princess Alexandra of Kent in both too-elaborate hats with a textured suit, and simple hats with an elaborate suit or an elaborate hat with a plain suit. I know I prefer the last two options to the first. This also reminds me of the way Diana started dressing in the 1990s. I recall though that she went hapless most of the time.

    I have a request. Since I am not familiar with the different Japanese royal ladies, would it be possible to identify the ladies abut e.g. Emperor Akihito’s sister-in-law or first cousin’s widow. I read on my phone and it isn’t possible to switch to a page about the Japanese imperial family that easily.

    Thank you and belatedly, Happy New Year!


  2. The Japanese imperial family tend so much towards hat blandness that hats of greater interest, such as all these, are very much to be applauded, whether they are nice hats or not! The green one is indeed interesting… Not a favourite, but also not bad. I love Masako’s burgundy one, such a good rich colour. The silk bumper tends to the bland formal style we are used to seeing on such formal court occasions, and within that context it isn’t a bad hat either. And the high contrast of the Empress’s hat pleases me.

  3. CP Masako’s hat is my favorite. Great to see Empress Michiko’s apricot colored and patterned hat. I’m not a fan of Princesses Hanako and Hisako’s hat shapes although the textures are pleasing.

        • I think the hatband is actually still the same! The colours look different because of the photo exposure but this is certainly the same hat! I think it’s just the buttons on the suit that are different. How fascinating. You’re absolutely right- in the 1990s, Masako did wear lots of very colourful ensembles. We’ve seen her slowly wear more of these this year, something which is so wonderful to see.

          Thanks so much for sharing this, Jessica!

  4. Cheers for some differences, however subtle, to the imperial look! CP Masako’s burgundy is especially lovely, even if it isn’t new. Princess Hisako is often one of the best imperial hat wearers, and the texture makes the design more interesting.

  5. It seems to me that this year the ladies of the Imperial Court have been allowed a little more leeway in their hats, which has made it more interesting for us.
    Princess Hanako interests me. Her hat has a Queen Mary vibe to it which is quite attractive.
    Anyway, I’m all for the variety and colors we’re being treated to by the JIF.

  6. I actually quite like Princess Hanako’s green hat, though I can’t quite put my finger on why. The loose pleating of the trim echoes the drape of the bodice of her dress, which is a nice touch.

  7. Hanako’s hat isn’t my favorite design ever, but I do like the uniqueness of it, especially for the Imperial Court, and the jade/emerald color is divine! I have a feeling this hat looks better in motion, and it definitely deserves another outing.

    If I’m correct, I believe Masako’s hat is a repeat from this outing: At any rate, it is still my favorite of this group, and I’m glad to see it in natural lighting. The colors and simple details make this hat easy and versatile, and Masako certainly knows how to wear a larger brim (she has worn similar hat shapes/colors a few times over the past few years).

    I’m also glad to see the Empress out of grey and back into this dusty rose and apricot houndstooth ensemble, which has been hiding for far too long. I always love when the Empress brings out her houndstooth.

    The color and sheen of Masako’s bumper pillbox is nice, but it’s just so plain for me. However, it’s great to see her lovely smile!

    Finally, while I love Hisako’s patterned suit, I don’t think the hat should’ve been made of the exact same fabric; find a plain material in this color, and it would be so much better. The veiling trim is a nice touch. It’s interesting to see her change into a simpler brooch from the order pins she wore during her speech, but both looks work well.

    Thanks for keeping the Japanese royal millinery in front of us HatQueen! They deserve the coverage!

  8. Hat Queen, I love reading your descriptions of these hats. My favorites are the two on Princess Masako, burgundy and blue sheen. Lovely.

  9. These are all interesting and attractive hats, and like Shannon, my favorite is the burgundy one – I hope CP Masako continues with this new direction in hat styling. I also like the sheen on Masako’s hat – it almost looks metallic – but I don’t really care for that style on her – it over-emphasizes her eyebrows!

  10. Those first three hats are fabulous! I think my favorite is probably the burgundy, I love the slightly larger brim, but all three are wonderful and it’s so refreshing to see some variety!

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