Thanks to Jimbo for providing the introduction and background research for the posts on Queen Elizabeth featured in this “Monday Multiples” series.
Jimbo’s Introduction: Queen Elizabeth is always pretty in pink when she is out and about. She wore a wonderful pink, brown and blue bouclé coat with two coordinating hats- straw on October 19, 2013, (perhaps the only photographed time for this hat) to the British Champions Day at the Ascot Racecourse and felt on February 2, 2014 to attend church in West Newton (She was spotted two more times wearing it for outdoor events – the Newbury Races on April 21, 2017, and the Braemar Games in Scotland on September 2, 2017). Whether her hat was straw or wool, the Queen always accessorized it with her charming smile.
Look #1: with the pink straw hat – textured parasisal on the crown and lighter sinamay on the mushroom brim – trimmed with a wide hatband bound in the same bouclé as the coat and coordinating feathers worn October 19, 2013 to Ascot Racecourse.
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Look #2: with a similarly shaped hat in pink felt trimmed with a braided hatband of scalloped-edge felt strips and blue and copper curled feathers worn February 2, 2014, April 21, 2017 and September 2, 2017
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Both hats were designed by Angela Kelly and made by Stella McLaren. The question is- which hat do you prefer most with this coat?
Photos from Getty as indicated
I’m a bit behind in commenting. I like both hats and think HM looks lovely in this coat/ hat combination. Maybe I prefer the second hat because of its slightly warmer shade of pink.
The third picture of the first slide of the second hat is interesting for its technical aspect:
You can look underneath the brim and see that the brim is placed upon the crown, instead of the other way around. This helps to raise the brim, so that it doesn’t cover HM’s face and can be better observed by the public. This is a very nice detail, especially in a hat for an elderly lady whose neck is shortened by age.
Wies, thanks so much for your fascinating explanation of the different straws used in the millinery world. You mentioned that the straw comes in different colors. I thought it was dyed for a specific ensemble, not the ensemble cloth selected to match the straw chosen. I, too, like both of these pink hats, and have noticed similar underside construction on some of HM’s other hats. Very interesting.
Most couture milliners will offer a dye-to-match service, but dyeing is tricky. And it takes time: you can easily spend an entire afternoon trying to find the right hue, making sample after sample. It is difficult to charge the real cost of the process to a client (unless you are a London based milliner working for royalty).
So when a colour is readily available, why bother? One of the reasons sinamay became so immensely popular, when other varieties of straw disappeared little by little, was because it came on the market in so many colours. And when you overlay several layers of sinamay in different colours, you get beautiful rich tones.
(When I started out as a milliner in Paris, dyeing wasn’t done in the workroom. The materials for custom orders where sent out by courier to a specialist “teinturier”. And in the theatre were I worked later, there was a highly skilled artisan for special effects on fabrics, which included dyeing.
So I never had a proper training in dyeing fabrics, but I do like to do my own coloring when I make silk flowers, gradient colours or lace trimmings.)
AWESOME! Thanks so much. It’s a fascinating world out there, knowing people like YOU make it so rich with beauty and knowledge.
I prefer #2 because I don’t like the way the decorations look on #1.
So I’m somewhat surprised… A) that this combo hasn’t had the this problem that treatment before and that B) it’s not been seen more; I feel this is a very familiar outfit, but it’s clearly just lodged in my head.
It’s a really nice look for HM, and both hats are great, at a push I probably prefer the more streamlined second hat, but I do appreciate the slight randomness of the feathers on the first. I’d be very happy to see either of these again.
Sorry – terrible autocorrecting. The first sentence was meant to read ‘hasn’t had the this or that treatment’. Tsk.
No to the first hat. Too messy!
Yes, to the second one. Lovely shape, but I long to just pluck out the feather!
Me too. I expect that would be easy to do if the hat were to be paired with another pink outfit!
I had exactly the same thought. Is there any evidence the hat was ever worn with other coats with the feathers changed?
I prefer the 2nd hat, mainly because the first one just seems too summery for that coat, but also agree with Buffy that the perfect hat would combine the body of #2 with the trim of #1.
Wies, that you so much for the behind the scenes details of how a hat like this might be made – fascinating that placing the brim on the crown rather than vice versa would make such a difference, I was never aware of that.
I think both hats are fantastic, each in their own way. I’d love to see either one come out of the closet sometime.
HQ, I would imagine that an inventory of pink/magenta/cerise/fuchsia hats would be an overwhelming task for you! There are just so many!
Milliner’s question: (Polly, Wies, are you out there today?) The straw hat appears to be made of a much denser gauge than the straw hats of summer. Do you find it more challenging to work with the heavier grade material, or does the steaming process do all/most of the work for you? Are both of today’s hats from the same block?
That’s a lot of questions Jimbo! It certainly looks like both hats came from the same block, or rather blocks: crown block and brim block. The original posts say the felt hat is made by Angela Kelly, the straw hat “probably A.K.”. I think it is safe to presume they were both made by her AND on the same blocks.
The straw hat is made from two kinds of straw: parasisal for the crown and sinamay for the brim.
This is where it gets a bit technical Jimbo:
Sinamay is woven like fabric; you can buy it by the meter and use it either straight cut or on the bias. Parasisal is woven in cloche or capeline shape; a cloche is a bell shape. So it is not flat, like sinamay, and has a rather elastic weave.
The crown of this hat is larger at the top than at the bottom: it is difficult to block it nicely in sinamay. It is a lot easier and therefore quicker, to block it in parasisal.
The milliner combined the two materials for technical reasons and she did well, for the result is lovely.
Both types of straw can be worked equally well with steam, the choice depends on a lot of factors. Sinamay is available in a much larger range of colours than parasisal for instance. Parasisal is a bit coarser and therefore not suitable for all kind of shapes. Sinamay exists in different qualities too, the finer woven quality is somewhat more expensive than the coarser.
When I started in millinery, a lot of different types of straw were available which no longer exist anymore. Once in a while, when I stumble upon a vintage, handwoven parabuntal capeline of superb quality, I feel deeply touched.
Thanks, as always, for your great insight, Wies. I’ve made a correction to this post- both hats were designed by Angela Kelly and made by Stella McLaren.
I like the deeper color of the felt hat, but the trim on the straw hat. Combine the 2 and it would be perfect!
I’m being very inconsistent here, because although I generally don’t like a hat that is too matched to an outfit, I actually love the first hat, with its messy bow trim and think it really adds to the Queen’s look, even though it couldn’t really be worn with anything else. This is obviously an outfit for cooler Spring and Autumn days, which is why the Queen seems to prefer the felt hat, which is also pretty, but I think the feathers that tie this hat in with the coat colours don’t really go with the braided pink trim.
Consistency is not required for royal hat followers! I surprise myself how fickle my own tastes are!
I’m with you trickymum! I prefer Hat #1 as I love the space between the braid, and I like that the coat fabric was incorporated into the braid.