Earlier this spring, reader Scarfie attended the exhibition, “Stephen Jones Hats at the Royal Pavilion”. I’m so pleased to welcome her to Royal Hats this week to generously share her thoughts on this momentous millinery event.
In April, I visited Brighton Pavilion to see the hat exhibition by Stephen Jones. I had never been to the Pavilion before so it was a very exciting prospect.
As you entered the pavilion via the Octagon Hall into the Entrance Hall, you were greeted by a table with a few hats displayed on it – hats inspired by this very building no less and quite a tease for the delights to come!
After getting the tickets, you proceeded along the Long Gallery, a beautiful long corridor decorated in pink wallpaper, bamboo effect woodwork and chinoiserie which was lined with lots of millinery but I can‘t remember too many of the pieces as there was so much to take in. There was one headpiece made with oversize paper clips and another of spanners(!) and at the end of the gallery the staircase has some mannequins on the stairs in lovely dresses with full head “hats” quite striking yet spooky at the same time! I think the effect was to be like you are at a party with everyone dressed up.
After leaving the Long Gallery you entered the Banqueting Room. Wow, what a fabulous room – the dining table was laid out as for a banquet and then each chair has been given a hat! A lot of the hats displayed belong to celebrities and royalty.
Of the Royal Family loans are the white beret worn by the Duchess of Sussex to last year’s Commonwealth Day service, the beautiful navy coolie hat worn by Lady Sarah Chatto to the Sussex’s wedding last year, and Princess Eugenie’s teal green beret percher worn to Royal Ascot in 2011.
Embed from Getty Images
Milliner Stephen Jones adjusting a cream felt beret he made for the Duchess of Sussex
One of my favourites in this room was the lovely red feather creation made for Dame Joan Collins. What a fun, elegant hat and I loved how the top feathers sort of exploded out of the top of it!
The exhibition in many places was roped off so you can’t get that close to the hats but most of them you could get close enough to see some detail.
After passing the first side of the Banqueting Rom, you entered the Great Kitchen filled with the most fantastical head pieces! The kitchen was the perfect location for these hats as many featured food and creatures of both sea and air – fish and birds! There was a fun jam sandwich, an afternoon tea and then a huge red bird hat over the stove. Along the tops of the kitchen cupboards were more feathered creations in the shapes of birds. The central display table showcased fishy hats and a “whale with a veil”.
Here you can see some of the fish head hats.
The Victoria Sandwich/afternoon Tea type hat was unusual to say the least as was the pleated jelly and jam sandwich, the crusts of which were leather!
After going around the kitchen, you were lead back to the other side of the Banqueting Room. I was a bit sad to read that the hat designed for Diana, Princess of Wales was not actually hers but a replica that was displayed. Nonetheless, it was nice to see it. It is made of suede.
The mustard yellow hat worn by Amal Clooney at the Sussex’s wedding last year was nice to see close up and I particularly noted the sequins sewn on the net veil. Next to this was also an eye-catching (and odd!) crocodile head shaped hat! Kylie Minogue’s huge show girl type hat of gold leaves/feathers with red lilies heads was at one end of the table with Lady Gaga’s large pink feather creation at the other end.
What a fascinating review of this exhibition, Scarfie! Stay tuned, everyone, for the second part of this review, tomorrow.
Photos from Getty and social media as indicated