In the Design: A Master At Work

In 2020, Craft (an Australian association that supports, presents and produces craft and design-focused creative practices) began a collaboration with videographer Mark Newbound on a series of short films about different makers. Last week, he released one featuring Australian milliner Louise Macdonald upcycling a straw hat.

I had the pleasure of working with Louise last fall while producing a month-long education series for the British Millinery Association. And I truly do mean pleasure- she is a lovely person, a gifted instructor and a millinery master.

Multiples: Crown Princess Mette-Marit

Crown Princess Mette-Marit has paired her raisin-hued felt calot hat by Mona Strand with six different coats to create several contrasting looks:

Look #1: With a deep eggplant dress and pale periwinkle wool coat worn October 25, 2005 on a state visit to the UK

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Look #2: With a pale lilac wool coat worn December 10, 2008 for the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony

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Look #3: With an ecru buttoned coat with fur collar for the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in 2012 

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Look #4: With a mulberry dress and palest lilac-grey coat for National Day celebrations in May 2013

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Look #5: With a black floral dress and ruffled coat, both by Valentino, for a Latvian state visit on March 18, 2015

Look #6: With a purple pleated Alberta Feretti bow necked dress and a gold embroidered lilac silk coat worn for an October 2016 state visit from Singapore

Which coat do you prefer most with this hat?

Photos from Getty as indicated; Vidar Ruud/ NTB Scanpix; NTB Scanpix

Queen Elizabeth’s Christmas Day Hats Part 2

Last week we looked at all of the hats Queen Elizabeth wore on Christmas Day in the 20th century. Today, we focus on the “Chapeaux de Noel” she has worn over the past two decades:

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2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004

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2005; 2006 in Rachel Trevor Morgan; 2007 in Angela Kelly; 2008 in Rachel Trevor Morgan; 2009 in Angela Kelly

2010 and 2011 in Angela Kelly (made by Stella Mclaren); 2012 in Rachel Trevor Morgan

20132014 in Rachel Trevor Morgan; 2015 in Angela Kelly (made by Stella Mclaren)

2017; 2018 and 2019 in Angela Kelly (made by Stella Mclaren)

There are a few surprises here- it has now been 20 years since we saw Her Majesty chose a green hat for Christmas Day and the past two decades have seen more fur than the two before. There are many more neutral hued hats in this group than in the hats worn last century and, aside from the fur designs in 2010 and 2013, all the hats since 2000 have had brims. Looking back, I admire the unexpectedly vibrant orchid purple design with red feathers in 2014 and turquoise blue with lovely velvet flowers in 2012, both by Rachel Trevor Morgan, along with the snow queen fur pillbox in 2010.

Sadly, it was announced this week that we won’t see the Queen publicly on Christmas Day this year (not surprising considering the surge of COVID cases in Great Britain) so we’ll have to make due with pondering past Christmas hats this year. Which one of these designs stand out most to you?

Queen Elizabeth’s Christmas Day Hats Part 1

With news that the Queen is expected to attend church publicly this year on Christmas Day, I thought it would be fun to look back at her past “Chapeaux de Noel.”

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1968, 1970, 1975 and 1980

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1982,1983, 1984, 1985 (see 1986 here) and 1987

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1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, and 1993

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1994, (see 1995 here) 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999

It’s a mostly jewel-toned choice with a few orange ensembles thrown in to spice things up and the unexpected pink beret in 1982. The earlier designs follow her preferred shapes in different decades- brimless through the 1960s and 1970s and a sprinkling of a few short brims in the 1980s. The larger brims of the 1990s, like the green one chosen in both 1995 and 1999, are all swept off the face.

For sheer fun, the first group of hats are my sentimental favourite for their bolder scale, texture and pattern (that red floral in 1970 is all kinds of fantastic!). Next week, we’ll look at all the Christmas Day hats from this century. For now, which one of these earlier designs stand out most to you?

Images from Getty as indicated  

My Hat: Pinkham Millinery

After a recent conversation here at Royal Hats about how we can all support the millinery industry,  I received several messages about custom hats readers have purchased. The stories attached to these hats are too wonderful not to share so that’s precisely what I’m going to do! We kick off this new series with a message I received from Angele:

I’ve read your blog for many years but I’m not one for commenting.  Yet I couldn’t resist the temptation to share my own recent hat purchase at Pinkham Millinery here in Portland, Oregon.  It has been a rough year and a half for the owner of Pinkham with everything going on and if my sharing results in even one extra sale for Dayna I would be thrilled.  She made the hat for me to go with my vintage 1970s coat.  Picking out the perfect color for the hat I wanted, then digging through her piles of ribbons, and having it fitted just perfect was an amazing experience.  Everyone at least once should get to have something special made just for them.  I feel like a movie star every time I put on my hat.

How did you choose this style?
This particular hat was all based on my 1970s wrap coat.  It has a rather oversized, fluffy collar and I did not want a hat which had such a large brim as to bump the coat’s collar in the back.  With Dayna’s help I tried on different styles to see what would work with the coat, and of course, what I liked best.  We ended up both really liking this style with the dramatic slice coming down over my right eye.  A little 1940s movie star look I think, yet somehow working well with the 70s coat.  It has the perfect brim in the front and Dayna made sure to trim up the brim in the back keeping it easily wearable.  She was very good about letting me try on lots of different things and then adjusting the brim and crown angles just so to get the perfect look.

What help did the milliner (Dayna) offer during the process that you particularly appreciated?
There were two really great aspects of working with Dayna.  First is that I know her hats are amazingly built and will last for years.  I have a few vintage hats I wear from the 50s and 60s.  I have no doubt that in 50 years her hats will still look perfect and someone will be wearing them talking about the great vintage hat they found; they are just that well made.  Second, she was really patient with me and excited to help.  I walked in and said, “I have this coat, it needs a hat but I don’t know what hat.”  The only thing I knew was it had to be deep red.  As Dayna put it, “The perfect shade of lipstick.”  She was great about taking the time to try different styles and then have me back for a fitting partway through the process to make sure the fit was exact.  When it came time to pick the ribbon we looked all through her huge collection of ribbons to find the right one.  The whole time Dayna was having just as much fun as I was. Of course, an added bonus to all of this was getting to hang out in her shop and play with her sweet, little dog too.  I’m a sucker for a shop dog.

How does this hat feel different to wear than other hats? 
I do wear hats pretty regularly: vintage, squishable sun hats, $10 hats from the mall, nicer finds off Etsy.  But having a hat made by a real milliner you can just tell the quality of the hat is so much better than anything else you can find.  Reading Royal Hats has probably made me a little bit of a hat snob, or at least better able to tell me what to look for in a quality made hat!  Pinkham Millinery makes very streamlined, non-fussy hats.  There is no room to hide a poorly made hat under a lot of decoration.  I love putting this hat on because it feels perfect.  It fits exactly, it is the exact color I wanted (I know because Dayna let me look through all the shades of red in the shop), the brim shape was cut exactly to fit with my coat, and even the crown was shaped so the dip would line up with my right eye exactly.  While I love all my hats this one in particular is special because I know it was made to make me look and feel amazing.


Angele- your hat is stunning! I adore the jaunty brim, the asymmetrical crown, the sleek lines and the gorgeous colour. You truly look amazing in it and I’m thrilled it makes you feel amazing as well. That’s exactly what a hat should do.

Does anyone else have a story to share about a bespoke hat?

Images from social media as indicated.