Royal Ascot Day 3: Queen Elizabeth

I’m thrilled to welcome Ellie Vallerini, creator of Sussex-based Ellie Vallerini Hats, as my guest to share her thoughts on all of the royal hats we see today for Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot! Thanks for joining us, Ellie!

Keeping the bookies on their toes, Queen Elizabeth surprised in silver grey today with her her third new hat of the week. The design features a flared crown covered in the same silk cloque fabric as her coat and a mushroom shaped straw brim overlaid in pleated crin. The hat is finished with a grey goose feather mount and vine of gold silk flowers that wrap around the front.

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Royal Hats: Another colour surprise from Her Majesty! I don’t think very many predicted grey.

Ellie Vallerini: It’s really lovely to see the Queen in some different style hats this year! This one is quite unusual with a mix of textures and fabrics and I like the proportions of this hat, the crown is less heavy than previous years. The Audrey Hepburn style brim really suits the Queen and although I love her in bright colours it’s nice to see her in something soft. The brim is made from sinamay and has a layer of pleated crin around it which is very interesting and I haven’t seen it used in this way before.

Royal Hats: Agreed. The mix of sinamay, pleated crin and silk cloque fabric works really well here.

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Royal Hats: Stella McLaren tends to set these brims an inch or two up the side of the crown so that you can see the crown’s base on the underside of the brim. Ellie, is this a standard technique for constructing this style of hat?

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Ellie Vallerini: It is a very popular technique for brims like this ‘Audrey’ style because it allows for that lovely downward shape without covering the face. If the brim was attached at the bottom of the crown it would fall too far over the face, obstructing your view and face in photos. If the brim is much shallower then is isn’t always necessary or if the crown is smaller and the hat simply perches on top of the head with a wire or elastic fitting that can also give the desired effect.

Royal Hats: Thanks, Ellie! That’s really insightful.

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Royal Hats: I’m annoyed by the visible, plastic stem on the flowers trimming the hat. In yesterday’s discussion about the Queen’s hat, our guest milliner Wies shared great insight into the art of millinery flower making. The yellow flowers are a good call here (they tie well with the applique cutouts from the patterned silk on dress that are placed around the coat’s neckline) but these are disappointing.

Ellie Vallerini: I love the sweep of feathers and splash of yellow however I do think the yellow flowers could have been bound by hand onto cotton covered wires instead of left with the plastic. Creating your own branch of flowers by hand gives it that real couture finish. Overall I thought she looked lovely, as usual!

Designer: Angela Kelly. Made by Stella McLaren
Previously Worn: This hat is new


What do you think of the Queen’s hat today?

Photos from Getty as indicated 


30 thoughts on “Royal Ascot Day 3: Queen Elizabeth

  1. Just gorgeous! Those touches of yellow are genius, and the hat is really special. I do wonder why in the world she can’t coordinate her shoes and purse with her outfits. That black is so dowdy. I understand getting older and wanting to be comfortable, but surely she could break in some different colored shoes! Is she being thrifty?

  2. It’s so exciting to see HM wear these new looks! The colour scheme is refreshingly different, so is the pleated crin, the “ears of wheat” feathers which are usually more Camilla’s territory, are a nice change- and I adore the flared shape coat with its applique work beautifully framing her face. (And the brooch matching the hat and coat flowers is so sweet!) I hope there will be more coat and hat experiments in this direction.
    I do have one quibble –much as I like the hat as is (plastic stems aside- it’s so hard to understand !) the strong horizontal lines of the brim, reinforced by the spiky horizontals of the feather, don’t relate as well as they might to the applique flowers which have no straight lines at all. If it weren’t for the colour connection, the hat and coat would look as if they belonged to 2 different outfits. I am sure the appliques are cut from the same fabric as the dress underneath, so only from the coat point-of-view, I would prefer to see fewer of the spiky feathers, or less stiff,more drape-able ones.
    Recent hats of HM’s have got me thinking about brim shape. Now that HM is quite petite, I am leaning more towards brim shapes which have some section of uplift, or curl back, to reveal more of her face. This one, much as I love it, is wider I think than her more recent hats, and puts her upper face in shadow. It’s not a deal breaker for me, but an upcurve anywhere on HM’s brim these days I find to be a particularly lovely effect.

  3. MrFitzroy is totally enchanted by this look…..yes, a few of the smaller details could have been fixed: the stem on the hat flowers chief among them, but it’s a lovely new interpretation of a fairly classic shape for HM, and the pleated wrap really adds an interesting dimension. The feathers could have been a bit too much, but in this colorway it all works.
    The main quibble with the ensemble would be the applique around the neck of the coat….it would have been so much more ‘royal’ and elegant, had they been embroidered rather than applique (C’mon, she IS the Queen!) The way the floral detail melds with the brooch….so it’s almost as if the applique becomes the jewels, is particularly wonderful.

    It is interesting to see three days in a row — of these very subtle pastel/neutral tones….MrFitzoy wonders whether this is perhaps a little signal that some of the more saturated and bright tones that have comprised so much of the royal wardrobe over the past years may be slowly retired….It certainly works well on her if that is the case — and time will tell! Tomorrow will be very interesting to see if HM returns more to usual form in a brighter color or if this ‘quiet’ toned Ascot week continues.

  4. Regardless loosing my bet , I did expect yellow on HM today, I do love this elegant outfit in steel grey. What do you think_ are the daffodils and forsythias a nostalgic Good bye to Spring which ends today?

  5. The coat is an excellent new pattern, and I quite like the hat too. I’m actually more bothered by the visible base of the crown than by any objection to plastic stems.
    It’s so nice to have a new, unexpected color combination, although this does remind me slightly of the outfit worn to Princess Eugenie’s wedding. Today’s hat’s mushroom shape with the pleated crin is unexpected too I think that this hat makes a fabulous first impression, and the more one looks as it, the more I appreciate its design. The brim looks slightly wider than many of the Queen’s recent hats, and I think that’s more flattering.
    But will tomorrow be a lightish blue too?

  6. Such a fun surprise once again from HM! I love everything about this, except the pleated crin overlay on the sinamay brim; the crin isn’t terrible, but it does give it a slight lampshade feel. The appliqué on the coat is wonderful, and the swooping feathers are great. My favorite for HM so far this week. I’m pulling for a green ensemble for one of the last two days!

    • Not aimed at you personally, Jake, but I’ve been thinking over the past couple of days about how a comment that a hat resembles a lampshade is almost always intended as a negative or even an insult, and I’ve finally decided, what is wrong with a hat being shaped like a lampshade? I bet many other hat shapes that are widely used and admired today may have been considered negatively when they were first introduced. I vote for even more lampshade-shaped hats going forward, so people can get used to them and feel more positively toward them!

      • Sorry Matthew, just now circling back to this comment! It’s not the lampshade shape that I’m opposed to (there are many hats I love whose shapes could be described as lampshades); rather, I’m not so keen on how the crin overlay makes the brim of this hat look more like an actual (and vintage) lampshade, if that makes sense? Again, not terrible, but I’m just not thrilled with it either.

  7. Love the brim love the colour surprise and trim. I think the Queen is enjoying herself and has more surprises in store. Exciting.

  8. On my first view I thought the yellow flowers were ‘burnished gold’ (gold leaf?) and once I saw the plastic stem oh I wished they were. From afar this hat is perfection – great shape, lovely style and colour with a pop of colour to catch the eye. But plastic on the Queen’s hat? The coat is beautiful and I really like the neck detailing. Something a bit different that works.

  9. We usually expect new hats during Ascot, but HM is really switching things up this week! I like the pleated crin on the brim, it gives a nice soft detail around her face. Thank you Ellie for the insight on how the hat is constructed! The color combination of silver grey and yellow is lovely and I really want to know if the coat is embroidered or appliqued. I don’t remember Angela Kelly using either method before, other than the appliqued lace of the Wedgewood coat so I want a closer look! I agree about the plastic stem on the yellow flowers. I also wish that the yellow flowers were woven just a bit more through the grey feathers rather than being all at the back to integrate them a bit more. But like Jimbo, they remind me of forsythia which always makes me happy. So far this week has been blue, blue & grey. What will HM go for tomorrow!?

  10. I love mushroom brims in general and especially on the queen. This one really stands out for that fabulous pleated crin (what great texture!) and the grey/yellow color pattern. I understand the arguments about the plastic stems, but I definitely like that the flowers are airier in their distribution. Part of my frequent dislike for silk flowers (including yesterday’s hat) is their often overwhelming (in my opinion) density. In any case HM looks fabulous and I love this hat.

    • I agree with you. I love this hat, and the flowers on their stem, rather than yesterday’s one and a half rows of solid blooms. I really like the pleated brim!

  11. what a surprise – steel grey. i love it!!
    hm looks an absolute picture in her new hat. its modern, fresh, yet very queenly. an unusual combination of silver and gold which suits her majesty to perfection.
    and thanks for your insight into the making of the hat

  12. Well now, I like this! I like this a lot! I love the shape and the different textures, and the feather spray is lovely with the peek-a-boo yellow. Very nice how it complements her gorgeous coat. Even her brooch got in on the gold and silver bandwagon. Overall, fabulous look!

    • I did not immediately realize that the three flowers “covering” the brooch were actually part of the it. My first thought was that she should have put the brooch lower so the neckline flowers didn’t cover it! Does anyone know anything about this brooch or where I might see close-up pictures of it? I can’t look it up because I don’t know what it’s called.

        • Maja, thank you for this link, the information there is fascinating, as well as the possibility that this piece is part of a larger set of similar brooches. The other thing that was interesting to note is the way the appearance slightly alters, including the color of the “flowers”, depending on the fabric behind it.

          I do still think though that on this coat it should have been worn a little bit lower. I like the idea that the flowers on the brooch appear to be connected to the ones on the neck trim, but not that they appear to be tangled up in it.

  13. An unexpected and softly pretty combination of colours today. The hat’s shape, scale, colour, texture and trim (plastic flower stem aside) are all winners in my book! A very attractive look for HM. I can’t imagine what colour will be coming tomorrow. Pale peach, maybe?

  14. I really like the grey/yellow combination, and it’s the third-hat-in-a-row with a new, unexpected shape! The yellow flowers remind me of forsythia blooms, which are very early harbingers of spring where we live. So far, three new winners for HM.

  15. The Queen is adorable:-)
    She’s a) messing with the bookies and b) trying out new hat shapes at 93!
    I love this hat and the grey and yellow colour scheme.

    Since she’s going for the unexpected this year, my guess for tomorrow is white with gold accents.

    • It’s not entirely a new shape for her:

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      • I was more referring to the pleated crin. Have we seen this use on the Queen’s hats before?
        It looks familiar, but I can’t place it.

        • Ah. I think you might be thinking of this one- also a Angela Kelly/Stella McLaren collaboration
          Embed from Getty Images

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