I’m so happy to welcome Lauren Ritchie, creator of Melbourne-based Lauren J. Ritchie Millinery, to share her thoughts on all of the royal hats we see today on the fourth day of Royal Ascot!
Queen Elizabeth wore her fourth new hat of this year’s racing event, in bright pink. The modified cloche shape features a squared brim and is covered in the same textured fabric as the ensemble’s matching coat. An oversize ostrich feather, dyed in the same hue, wraps diagonally around the side of the crown to complete the design.
Royal Hats: Does anyone wear this shade of pink better than the Queen?!
Lauren Ritchie: This is a striking colour that beautifully contrasts the softer tones Her Majesty wore throughout the rest of the week. The feathers add a lovely texture to the piece.
Royal Hats: Lauren, how is a large ostrich feather like this one, affixed to a hat such as this? I suspect it is sewn down the middle spine, leaving the upper feather wisps free to move but what can you tell us about the joy (and challenge!) of working with these types of feathers?
Lauren Ritchie: One option is the ostrich feather can be stitched down through the spine with the use of a straw needle and thimble. Moving through sideways the spine, not up and down, there would be around three secure stitches along the point of the spine. It is a challenge not to catch the soft plumes in stitches as they are difficult to control and keep out to the way while working.
Royal Hats: I can imagine! I’m a bit torn on this hat. The colour is fantastic and I like how the feather trim partially hides that the hat is covered in the same textured fabric as the Queen’s coat but… as expertly as it has been treated, it seems a little messy. It takes additional time and skill to make a beautiful fabric covered hat but I wonder, if with this ensemble, something in dyed straw might feel lighter and more summery?
Lauren Ritchie: While I do agree that the beautiful work of making a fabric covered hat with the highly skilled under brim finish is covered by the plumes, a different material would add yet another texture to an already full outfit with the contrasting patterned dress underneath.
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
There are some good elements to this hat, but overall I find this one a bit sloppy in comparison to many of HM’s hats. The color is great for HM, but it does feel a bit too monochromatic, and the coat design is a bit too odd for my tastes. My least favorite so far this week.
I’m not really loving this hat for some reason and I think it’s because the ostrich feather completely takes it over. If it had a bigger, more upturned brim like the hat worn to Lady Gabriella’s wedding or a taller crown or more of the hat was visible, I think it would be improved and the feather slightly more contained. There’s also no contrast anywhere with everything the same color. In some photos some bits of feather are hanging down in HM’s face and I want to run up there and snip it off for her. Great detective work on the coat! I don’t mind the cutout as much as some others do, since we get to see more of the dress. But usually the hat ties into the dress (which is why we’re always trying to see it!) and this doesn’t.
Of all her hats in recent times, this hat of HM’s is the closest I have ever seen to Princess Beatrix’s well-known “cake” hats. The crown is pretty much hidden, so the entire hat has a sideways rectangle appearance. It looks wide and blocky, and somehow makes the already petite Queen look yet shorter. I haven’t thought about this aspect before, but I much prefer HM’s hats with a visible crown — which I think adds height, as well as counter-balancing any widening effect created by the brim.
And I never thought i would say this about an ostrich feather as I love them so much, but this horizontal feather looks… messy. Not so with Camilla’s almost identical hat worn last year, which has all the luxuriance I expect from ostrich:
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I need time to work out why I think Camilla’s is fabulous, and the Queen’s isn’t. Treacy is a master, of course. I wonder what he would have come up with if he had to redesign the Camilla model to suit HM? lots of food for thought there
Good analysis, mcncln! This ostrich trim looks so much more polished.
I think Camilla’s wider brim balances out the feather
Larger brim: better balance. Better quality feather (look at the subtle colour shades and the gorgeous long plumes in the feather of the Camilla hat!), probably doubled by a second one to give it more body. Better placement of the feather: horizontaly round the crown instead of slightly diagonal.
Featherwork, like flowermaking is a special skill. It is possible that Mr. Treacy has his feathers prepared for him by a specialist. For a Philip Treacy hat you pay the top price (JamesB you’d be surprised!) but you get top quality.
To be fair, all the pictures of the Queen’s hat are taken outdoors and it was windy, wich sent the plumes flying.
I promised myself not comment anymore on Ascot hats as HatQueen so kindly “gave me the floor” to guest comment on Day 2 and I don’t want to tresspass on somebody else’s day (Hi, Lauren, so pleased to be in the team with you!) but I just can’t seem to help myself. I’m getting quite hooked on this blog!
Oh, I’m sorry, it was Jimbo who fell off his chair when seeing the pricetag of Sophie’s hat, not JamesB.
Jimbo, you add the price of the material to the hours and hours of handwork, then you add the cost of London premises and specialised staff and then you realise it is a miracle these hats are even made and that there are clients willing to pay for them!
I’ve noticed several hats this year on unnamed Royal Ascot attendees that graced high profile heads at the races last year (likely borrowed at the time). I’m further intrigued that there are some who will pay for styles this year that made headlines last year- truly, these are people who appreciate the quality, workmanship and style within each piece and aren’t concerned about making a splash themselves.
Bless them! I sincerely think that if it weren’t for the British Royal Family (and Queen Elisabeth above all others), there wouldn’t be a bespoke hat industry anymore.
For less hats means less suppliers, less materials, less work for blockmakers etc.
The British Queen deserves a Hat Medal, I mean it.
This is part of the reason that I appreciate when royals keep their hats in rotation. Better to repeat a quality piece than pile up shoddier one-offs.
Wow Wies, what great points. I can see how Camilla’s hat might have 2 feathers, now that you say it — that’s something that would never have crossed my mind! And there is not one single tendril of feather hanging over the brim edge either. Seeing the problems that ostrich feathers can bring, I feel I’m beginning to understand why there would be a need for feather specialist.
Thank you for posting this photo mcncln. Camilla’s hat is an ostrich feather fountain and really does show the difference in workmanship and styling. Thanks also to Wies for her impassioned explanation of couture millinery. I have learned so much this week!
I like the movement the feathers give the hat and HM wears this colours very well. However, in many of the photos I can see something white peeking/poking out from under the feather, which doesn’t look right at all in the monochrome scheme. (It almost looks like a hen’s feather!?) And like others, I’m not such a fan of a one-colour hat when she has a floral dress.
Mind you, hard to top the previous three days worth of magnificent looks and this isn’t terrible.
Undyed strands of ostrich feather?
Zoomed into a newspaper photo and it’s definitely ostrich feather. In some shots the feathers are clearly raspberry and white so presumably the dye job was deliberate.
The hat and coat are splendid!
My first thought was, as has been suggested, that the feather made the hat look messy, but we are looking at this in still pictures. I imagine, with some breeze, that this hat looks much different.
Despite a previous comment about repetition of bright pink, she looks wonderful!
So, I was working at home today and etched the procession on tv, and thisnhat has a lot of movement which I loved. Ostrich feathers are lively but they’re under control. What I’m not loving is the coat cutout. The dress bears no relation to the hat and so the two elements jar for me.
This has been a looooong Friday, waiting for this post! I hope all is well down under, Lauren, your corner of the world is unbelievably beautiful!
HM’s hat: There must have been a sale on ostrich feathers lately, as we’ve seen them pop up on hats often. (I’m not a fan – the queen’s hat is hidden by a messiness that my untrained eye cannot appreciate. A spray of flowers would have been my choice.)
Speaking of sales, could the equivalent of our “Joanne’s Fabrics” been having a sale on this coat’s pink material? Three years running, Queen Elizabeth has debuted VERY similar pink coats . . . could the 2017 coat have been transformed into the 2019 coat? I’m not a gambling man, but I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that it is the same coat, but reworked, perhaps because the original high double collar was too heavy for the summer?
Happy first day of summer, everyone! (or winter, Lauren!)
2017, 2018, 2019: ALL Royal Ascot appearances.
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The 2017 fabric is different (it’s silk cloque, a specialty fabric she had several outfits made in different colours) BUT if you look closeup at the 2018 and 2019 coat fabrics they have an identical weave. Definitely the same fabric.
This gets more interesting- the coat worn in 2018 was confirmed as a Stewart Parvin design and it, along with its Rachel Trevor Morgan hat, were worn to Lady Gabriella Windsor’s wedding in May. The hat today was an Angela Kelly/Stella McLaren piece, which are almost always worn with Angela Kelly designed clothing. Unless the coat was remodeled in the past three weeks (which seems unlikely), I think we have two coats.
Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
HQ, you’ve just shattered my Sherlock Holmes detective work. I compared the 2017 and 2019’s five buttons, the linings inside her sleeves, everything! I cannot compete with your professional eye.
BTW, are you familiar with Joanne’s Fabrics?
Truly sorry to ruin your evening, Jimbo! That silk cloque fabric is emblazoned in my memory because HM’s famous blue coat and “EU Flag” hat for the opening of parliament was also silk cloque!
Of course I know Joanne’s Fabrics! It’s on the official Canadian shopping ‘Must Do’ list whenever we cross the border. (Kidding… but not really).
You had me agreeing with you until HQ gave us the word, Jimbo! I much prefer the 2018 hat and coat to the 2019.
It doesn’t seem like Ascot if HM doesn’t show up in pink.
Reading your comment I’m realizing even more peculiar it is for the Queen to wear these two pink coats and different hats Ascot in subsequent years! Both of them had an Ascot debut on the 21st of June (a year apart). Of all the hats in Her Majesty’s closet…
It’s actually three consecutive years, as Jimbo has noted. My only guess is that she didn’t want to repeat so soon after Gabriella’s wedding.
P. S. Joann’s is alluring even to those of us who don’t sew!
The 2017 coat is a different fabric.
Ostrich feathers in general are messy: they blow in the wind. That means in some photos they look good; in others they just look disheveled.
Since the ostrich feathers are the same color as the hat today, I don’t find this hat so messy as the chartreuse/purple hat worn to Prince Harry’s wedding or the gray with pink Christmas 2018 hat.
On the other hand, since today’s hat only matches the coat and not the dress in any way (even though the dress is prominently shown with this coat), I don’t understand the one-color scheme of the hat.
This is my least favorite hat the Queen has worn for this Ascot, but in some photos — with the wind blowing — it’s striking. Considering that each year we have a coat in some shade of bright pink, it must be increasingly difficult to create a hat that looks any different from previous years’ bright pink hats.