Queen Visits Science Museum

Queen Elizabeth visited The Science Museum in London today where she published her first post on the British Monarchy’s Instagram page- a letter from computer pioneer Charles Babbage to Prince Albert detailing his “Analytical Engine”.

For this visit, the Queen repeated her orange hat with sideswept brim and flared crown, trimmed with orange magnolia blossoms, twigs and brown straw leaves.
Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
Today’s outing made me notice a few things about this hat- while I previously thought it to be made of felt, it’s now clear the crown and bottom side of the brim are covered in the same wool as the matching coat (notice the straw on the upper side of the brim?). Interestingly, the brim is not round but an oval shape (see second and third photos in the gallery below) highlighted by the placement of the crown off center- a quirky touch that gives a modern feel to the design. I’m not fond of the seam running straight down the back of the crown (I think a bias seam looks more polished – maybe our trained milliners can provide some more insight on this) although I appreciate how it’s precisely matched with a similar seam on the brim.
Embed from Getty Images
Designer: Angela Kelly. Made by Stella McLaren
Previously Worn: Mar 20, 2018, Dec 25, 2017
I’m of two minds when it comes to orange hats on Her Majesty- while not the most flattering colour on her, it’s nice to see her in a bright hue. The colour of this ensemble is lovely, and I love the peek of teal that slows through on her dress, its print tying to the trim on the hat. What do you think about this hat on it’s third outing today?

27 thoughts on “Queen Visits Science Museum

  1. I’m super happy to see this hat again, and I surprise myself by saying so, since I am such a stickler for everyone wearing only their most flattering colours; but in this case, even though I can see how orange always leaches the blue out of HM’s eyes, I am enjoying what to my eye is a very balanced and harmonious design — and that includes the coat and dress as well. The use of brown as a contrast in the hat trim and for the coat buttons (take note, Princess Anne :)) is particularly deft, and I am enjoying tremendously the “just right” placement and scale of all the details. Of her current wardrobe, this winter hat of HM’s is one of my favourites.

  2. I love this! It’s so bright and cheery, much better than a lot of the muted colors that she sometimes wears. I also love the teal dress underneath. Very fetching, your Majesty!

  3. Like Jimbo I delighted in the picture of HM under the neon halo, echoing the shape of her hat!
    And unlike Mr Fitzroy I have no unpleasant associations with the colour orange, on the contrary, being Dutch, I’m all in favour. Although it is not my favorite colour for her, HM can wear all colours, and there are worse shades of oranges than this one.

    As to the question of the seams, we have had this discussion before on this blog, but I can’t remember exactly when. The subject was another hat of Queen Elisabeth, (I believe it was pale yellow with a diamond pattern) and I remember Mattthew sharing some of his special knowledge about weaving with us.
    My (professional) opinion is this: in thick, plain fabric, like this wool, the seams will always show up, whatever direction you make them take. A diagonal seam will be longer than a straight one, and may therefore attract more attention. (Rather like what you’d say to a child before it starts crossing a road: it will be in more danger when crossing in a diagonal line, then in a straight line, as it will be exposed longer to the traffic.)
    A brim binding should be cut on the bias, and the logical thing would be to have a diagonal seam. We have had different occasions to complain about Angela Kelly’s ugly, bobbly, straight cut brim bindings with conspicuous seams, but I think that with this hat, the fabric is worked very neatly. It looks like both brim and crown are covered in bias cut wool (as they should be) and to me it is a logical choice to make the two seams match. They form a continuous line with the back seam of her coat. Imagine wat it would look like if there were two diagonal seams, one on the crown and one on the brim, and if those two seams weren’t exactly parallel.

    • So then, maybe the question should be why Angela Kelly and her team didn’t make this hat in felt, which would have required no seams at all. I know dyeing felt to perfect matches is an art in and of itself and may never be as perfect a match to a coat as using the same fabric but I continue to wonder why Kelly, in particular, shies away from felt.

      • Ah, that we will probably never know! But it seems to have become a standard procedure for A. Kelly to make the Queen’s hats out of the same fabric as HM’s coats, on a basis of sinamay. Dying to match is indeed very tricky (as well as time consuming), in fact it is a different “métier” altogether.
        I feel you are being particularly harsh about this hat, which is (as far as I can see) well made. I think this design, in combination with the modern cut of the coat and the bright colour, gives Queen Elisabeth an attractive, even dynamic look!

        • You’re right- the same criteria used to measure how well constructed a felt hat is simply can’t be used fairly to evaluate a fabric-covered straw hat.

          • I take note that if ever we should meet, in this life or another, I will not present myself to your critical eye in a fabric covered hat, but in a proper fur felt (or straw, according to the season)!

          • Oh Wies- your hats are so beautiful, I’d be happy to meet you in ANY of them! It’s interesting- you’ve made me realize I am a bit more harsh with fabric covered hats than their felt or straw counterparts. I think it’s a textural issue- I just like the slight textural contrast that a different material brings.

          • This is an interesting point you are making. Actually, fabric covered hats aren’t that fashionable any more, probably for that same reason.
            When I used to work for Jean Barthet in Paris, back in the eighties, we sometimes made Chanel style hats for clients, to go with their Chanel suits. They were classic “breton” hats, in the same Chanel bouclé wool as the suit. Chanel is still doing this “all over look”: there were fabric covered fedora’s in the latest Chanel fashion show, the last one designed by Karl Lagerfeld. Unfortunately the fabric covered hats look a bit heavy sometimes. We used to make them on a sparterie basis, supple, strong yet light weight, but sparterie isn’t being made any more.
            I like to mix fabric with other materials, leather for instance, to give the hat a more modern look and make it visually more interesting. Whenever a client suggests I make a hat completely covered in the same fabric as her garment, I’m in the habit of replying that only Queen Elisabeth wears such totally matching outfits. But then, she is over ninety, and a category on her own.

          • I have read that HM is very thrifty — is it possible that any of her newer fabric-covered hats are actually older hats recently recovered in different fabric?

          • I think only the milliners know for certain, Matthew. That being said, I think Weis summed it up best- the effort involved in remaking a hat is so great that it’s easier to start from scratch. Looking at the Queen’s hats, there are slight tweaks between designs that indicate they are all unique.

          • Wies, since you are indeed a wonderful milliner yourself – your turquoise hat (and the model, BTW) featured in “This Week’s Extra’s Caught My Eye” section are cute as can be – please be the spokesperson to contact AK. Don’t all you hat makers get together on Friday nights and shoot pool or something? Please tell her to put the seam of her cloth covered hats behind all the fluffy feathers, flowers, and fru-fru. Then TWO stones are killed with ONE bird!
            Matthew, if your theory proves true, I will personally pay for your plane ticket over to London, so you can see it first hand! HA HA!

          • Jimbo, thank you for the compliment. And as to the model, she has the most wonderful green blue eyes, like those of a husky dog.
            I don’t know about British milliners shooting pool on Friday nights (never heard of such a tradition!) but I am on my side of the Channel and A. Kelly is on yours, so I’m not very likely to meet her. This said, we must remember that there are as many methods as there are milliners, and although some are more “couture” than others, one can’t be too over critical, or there would be no creative freedom left.

            Matthew, I have heard about HM’s thrift before on this blog, but I do not honestly think that her hats are recycled the way you describe. It would be a rather awkward process, the hat would have to be taken apart and reblocked which would be almost as much work as making a new one, so why bother?

    • Although orange is not, in my opinion, one of HM’s best colors, I’ve always liked this hat in particular because of its unique embellishments. I agree with Wies that diagonal seams, if not perfectly aligned, would have looked very bad – in this case, lining up all the vertical seams including the coat was probably the best way to go. In bulkier fabrics that either are handwoven or made to look handwoven, it is often possible to join seams by hand in a way as to make a seam almost invisible, but certainly not on thinner manufactured fabric such as this.

      And I am reminded by Wies’s comment that I had promised quite some time ago to post a photo of my loom, which I never did, but I will try to do it as soon as possible!

  4. I still love this and think HM can definitely pull off orange, but the right side of the brim (right side being HM’s right) seems a bit flatter than previously; this may be an illusion of the angle of the photographs, however. While there are other hats I would like to see her repeat, I’m happy this one is getting some mileage.

  5. Bright orange aside, the hat is really quite a good one. I like its shape and the trim. I do have a question about the hat seams. While the hat’s back seams are straight lines, the hat fabric is cut on the bias, is it not? So you’re suggesting a straight seam on the fabric to make it appear on the bias while on the hat?
    I don’t know whether the turquoise dress came before the idea of the orange coat or vice versa. I would like to see the hat and dress together. Could be striking or might look totally out of place.

    • You’re right- the fabric covering the hat would be cut on the bias to smoothly cover the rounded shape so a straight seam might be the couture way to go. It still just doesn’t look attractive- I think I liked this hat better when I thought it was made of felt.

  6. MrFitzroy seems to be a bit contrarian this morning, but has had the same thoughts on each outing of this hat. Probably because of the orange, it makes one think of Halloween. Once that thought is anchored, it is impossible not to associate (especially from a distance) the dark trims as thin licorice ropes, and the blooms as those horrid ‘wax lips’ which were an extremely confusing childhood confection.
    Now, HM looks great, the saturated color is wonderful, the hat is certainly serviceable, and the trim is fine in and of itself — but there is something about the overall combination that evokes unfortunate associations….at least in this ones slightly skewed brain!

    • Mr. Fitzroy, today’s orange extravaganza brings several things to mind:
      First, I thought its debut was an unusual choice for Christmas Day. Since December of 2017, HM has debuted an absolutely wonderful dark forest green ensemble, as well as a cranberry/maroon coat and hat this past March, and so far, I think both outfits have only been worn once. Either one of them would have been perfect for Christmas.
      Second, I don’t necessarily associate today’s orange with Halloween, as I do the beautiful yet quirky orange/black hat from (literally) the turn of the 21st Century.
      October 30, 2003 (P. Somerville)
      Embed from Getty Images
      Third, I’m thinking that all this orange HM is wearing is just too much of a good thing, with no other visible color for contrast, as Elizabeth Davies has suggested.
      Fourth, don’t you absolutely LOVE the 5th picture in the 2nd slideshow? HM’s halo is just great!
      All this said, it is so nice to see Queen Elizabeth still out and about, even in the colder weather. Not only is she the oldest, but also the most active of the world’s Royals today. What a treasure.
      Side note: When I was growing up, my mother would strain my orange juice of its disgusting pulp for me, which resulted in my five siblings giving me no end of loving harassment. So I guess subconsciously I really don’t like too much orange!

  7. The Queen always has visible “bumps” where her hat pins go, and I’ve twisted myself into knots trying to figure out just *how* they anchor her chapeau. She has short hair, so the pins can’t possibly find any purchase there, can they? Decades ago, I was the designer of some cutting edge fashions for my Barbie, and I was particularly fond of pill box hats for her. I could never devise a way to keep them secure on her beehive, so I resorted to driving a straight pin through the hat. And then through her skull. . . I’m reasonably certain The Queen’s dresser has a more sophisticated and less lethal method, but I can’t for the life of me figure it out!

    • You’d be surprised how well hat pins can work with short hair! Since the weight of the hat holds the hair down, the pin does have some purchase and can have a very strong effect. That could be why she wears so many hat pins in each hat, though, because you’re right, her hair isn’t as long as others and wearing four pins gives her more precaution.

  8. I really like the magnolia blossom trim on this hat, with the brown. Not sure about the overall orange-ness of the outfit – a ver neck allowing more teal to show through might have been an advantage; but just looking at the hat; I love it!

  9. I would like it if this ensemble was just a little bit darker overall, but I think this is one of my all-time favourites of Her Majesty’s hats. A work of art in itself.

  10. Still liking this orange number, it’s not the easiest colour to wear but I think she looks fab. And Angela Kelly has applied the trim with a subtle hand, which works very well.

    • Well written! I agree. I first saw the hat on this outing and smiled. It’s lovely and bright and brought a smile to my face.

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