Guest Post: Stephen Jones Lecture

The University of Michigan’s Stamps School of Art and Design welcomed British milliner Stephen Jones last week to deliver a guest lecture as part of the Penny Stamps Speaker Series. We are most fortunate, dearest readers, that longtime reader and commenter, Mitten Mary, attended the lecture and generously offered to share the experience here. Mary- welcome to Royal Hats!

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Tonite!!! @umstamps @michigantheater

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When I read that Stephen Jones speaking locally, I knew I had to go. But, since the sponsor is an art and design school and Jones creates avant-garde statement pieces like these for couture shows and events like the Met Gala, would he be too conceptual for an ordinary royal hat fan?



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@thombrowneny The moretta was held close to the face without the use of laces, but by biting between the teeth a button just at the level of the mouth. A lady who wanted to wear the moretta, therefore, remained completely silent. The use of the moretta mask contributed to the fascination with the mysterious use of masks in Venetian life. It should not be confused with the desire of men to hide the features of women from the eyes of others. Covering her face with a moretta, the mask of seduction, and staying at the same time, a lady's intentions were completely indecipherable. And so it was the woman herself who decided whether she remained anonymous and silent or whether she decided to respond to the attentions, if not the advances, of some suitor. Removing the moretta mask, the lady offered not only the longed-for sight of her face, but also the sound of her voice, considered a faithful mirror of the soul. Only the truly fortunate had the privilege to admire that fand to hear her voice, but it would have taken a brave man to seduce a woman without knowing what he was getting - as well as bold, since he would have had to convince her to reveal her secret.

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As it turned out, no! There were only five hats on display, alas, not very well lit or easy to see, so I couldn’t take photos as Scarfie did when she visited the exhibit at the Royal Pavilion. Here is my recap instead.

When Stephen Jones started in fashion at an art college, he was told by an instructor that he’d need to learn how to sew, so he got a summer job at a design house. He saw a large pot of glue in the millinery department and thought if he moved into that department, he’d be able to avoid sewing. (He only learned later how much hand work was involved.) When he asked the milliner about joining her staff, she told him to create a hat over the weekend. Scrambling to meet the challenge, he used cardboard from a cereal box, fabric provided by his sister, and plastic flowers (a petrol station giveaway!) supplied by his mother. (He didn’t realize that hats were trimmed with silk flowers.) The milliner found the plastic flowers a punk touch. He showed an image of the hat — sorry, but I can’t locate it online — and it was amazingly plausible.

The London club scene was an early influence on him. He must have learned to sew somehow, because he started creating small hats that he and his friends could wear while dancing, sometimes taking apart and re-constructing hats from thrift stores. He was just barely in business with a tiny shop when a designer friend told him to come meet an important client. He was surprised to find that it was the Princess of Wales!

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#beret #princessofwales

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Jones spoke of the importance of having friends and a network to establish the business, which led to close collaborations with Thom Browne, John Galliano, and other designers. I was surprised that at least one designer starts with the model’s makeup and a Stephen Jones hat, then creates the runway design around that.

He reported that while clients come to the couture houses, milliners are apparently expected to go to the clients, so he is at Heathrow every week! As a result, he had some fun stories. Once, the young princes were in the room when he was fitting Diana. Little Harry threw a handful of pins in the air, so Jones was briefly worried that the future King of England would be blinded by getting a pin stuck in his eye! More recently, when he was fitting Amal Clooney for her dreamy royal wedding hat, George offered him a sandwich and proceeded to make it himself. 

For someone who travels in such lofty circles, he was a personable speaker. He acknowledged the importance of his shop’s team, admitting that he doesn’t make everything himself. (How could he?) During the Q & A, he was asked about sustainability and observed that fashion has a limited life span, which will have to change – a surprising (maybe a little disingenuous?) statement from someone who creates a lot of pieces that are only worn once. That topic also spurred his admission that he was wearing a sock with a hole, but he was determined to find a darning mushroom so he could mend it as he remembered his mother doing.

I was slow to raise my hand, so I didn’t get to ask my question: does your design dictate the material, or are the materials the source of the design? I also wondered about his innovative straw top hat – how did he think of that, and how are they selling?

There was a videographer on the event, so if anyone is interested in the full presentation, I’ll let you know when it is posted. In the meantime, here are some of his recent designs for the royals highlighted in his presentation:

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It’s amazing that Mr. Jones’ illustrious millinery career started with a cereal box and petrol station plastic flowers!! Thank you so much Mary, for sharing this fascinating look at a milliner who has made so many fantastic royal hats. 

Photos from Getty as indicated 

Dutch Queen Atteneds Sciencemakers Awards

Queen Máxima was at the Spoorwegmuseum in Utrecht yesterday to attend the Sciencemakers Awards given to young people who have won national or international competitions in science, technology and making/inventing during the past year. For this year’s ceremony, the Dutch queen repeated her muted burgundy melusine felt fedora with relaxed brim, trimmed with a hatband of the same fabric as on her coordinating dress.

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There’s a chic effortlessness about this hat, I think that comes from its relaxed shape and slightly fuzzy pile of the felt. On their own, the hat and dress could easily read as one note, boring or flat, but the styling here, with this fantastic necklace, works so well, especially at a less formal event such as this.

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Designer: Fabienne Delvigne. It is the “Borsamalia”
Previously Worn: Jan 31, 2019

I’ve warmed to this hat since its first outing. On its own, I’d probably it pass over in a millinery shop but today, it topped a great working royal ensemble. Are any of you warming to it as well?

Photos from Getty as indicated 

Monday Multiples: Queen Máxima

Late last month, Queen Máxima repeated a fuchsia picture hat with sharply sidesweeping ‘slice’ brim. We’ve seen her pair this hat with three ensembles so far:

Look #1: With a fuchsia silk Natan dress with wide collar and beaded waist detail worn April 27, 2015 for Prinsjesdag and April 13, 2016 in Germany

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Look #2: With a tropical sunset printed silk Valentino dress worn July 4, 2016 to welcome a Greek state visit

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Look #3: With a Natan cream silk blouse and textured skirt with large sash worn August 31, 2019 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Dutch Liberation in Zeeland

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Which ensemble do you prefer most with this hat?

Photos from Getty as indicated 

Tassels?

News of Princess Beatrice’s engagement yesterday brought me hopeful thoughts for a 2020 wedding (with HATS!) and nostalgic admiration for some of her great millinery looks this year. One of my favourites was the sky blue straw boater with tassel trim by Bundle MacLaren she wore to Ascot. This got me thinking, dearest readers… how many other royal hats have been trimmed with tassels? Or long fringe? What do you think of such trimmings?

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Photos from Getty as indicated 

Top Royal Hats: May 2019

Despite stiff competition, two very clear winners (both in pale shades of pink!) have emerged in the races for favourite new design and favourite repeated hat worn back in May:


Countess of Wessex’s blush pink straw disc hat with black windowpane crin by Jane Taylor worn May 21



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Sarah, Duchess of York’s pink layered disc with pheasant feathers by Jess Collett worn May 18 

Jump over to the poll for favourite new hat here and the repeated hat poll here to see the results in greater detail.  
Photos from Getty as indicated

Monday Multiples: Queen Elizabeth

Thanks to Jimbo for providing the introduction and background research for this “Monday Multiples” post.

Jimbo’s Introduction: Today’s pair of hats, made of the same very palest blue material as Queen Elizabeth’s dress and coat, are quite different in style.  Both are adorned with a single ostrich feather, giving each hat a wonderfully light and airy, whimsical touch, great for outdoor events with a little breeze.  The original brimless hat from 2012 was replaced by a very typical, business-as-usual shape in 2017, which we have all come to know and recognize as perhaps her current trademark style.

Look #1: A formed beret with tall peak on one side, trimmed with a button-anchored upright white ostrich feather designed by Angela Kelly and made by Stella McLaren first worn November 27, 2012 to welcome a Kuwaiti state visit and repeated March 17, 2016 at the London Zoo.

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Look #2: A slightly flared crown hat with upturned kettle brim trimmed with the same button-anchored white ostrich feather placed diagonally across the front of the hat, also designed by Angela Kelly and made by Stella McLaren, first worn May 13, 2017 at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. 

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The sweeping collar on Her Majesty’s coat is a unique style feature for her- which hat do you prefer most itt?

Photos from Getty as indicated 

Guest Post: Sporty Royal Hats

I’m pleased to welcome New Zealand reader Sandra to Royal Hats today. Sandra is going to guide our look at a series of royal hats we don’t spend much time discussing. Welcome, Sanrda!

Sometimes Royals have to be as practical as us ordinary folk when it comes to their attire in certain weathers – although, naturally, their ensembles are “fit for a Queen”. There are many times when Royals don, for instance, hard hats or sporting hats. Those are not the focus here, this is all about dressing for the elements while still managing to be stylish.

The Scandinavian Royals understand the cold, just look at these magnificent furs from King Harald’s 70th birthday in February, 2007 – Queen Sonja and Prince Henrik of Denmark on a joyous, snow-filled ride near Oslo.

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Princess Madeleine (left) and Crown Princess Mette Marit. Crown Princess Victoria, for some reason, was bare-headed (I love her expression in the photo, almost as if she’s just realised how cold it is).

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Queen Silvia is the perfect Nordic snow queen (and toasty warm).

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When a brolly just isn’t enough … practical wet weather gear for Queen Maxima at Queen Sonja’s 70th birthday in July, 2007 and birthday girl Queen Sonja was a picture in an all-white ensemble on her rainy day.

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But the best – and I have no doubt she will always retain this title – wet weather ensemble comes from the artistic and effervescent Queen Margarethe. 

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Pictured below at Queen Sonja’s 70th birthday (at a summer event where seems like some of the royals had packed for any eventuality!), there’s a story behind this cheery raincoat. According to a great post about the outfit at the Royal Order of Sartorial Splendour, Queen Margrethe purchased the wax cloth fabric in London on one of her annual shopping forays there. Jørgen Bender, responsible for several royal wedding and gala gowns, made the raincoat, which Margarethe helped design, in 1995. The coat and hat featured in a 2015 exhibition of Margrethe’s wardrobe to mark her 75th birthday.

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The heat requires certain precautions too and Queen Noor of Jordan chose a simple, but stylish straw hat during a visit to St Tropez, France in July, 1983. She’s pictured with her infant daughter, Princess Iman bint Al Hussein.

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Princess Anne has been photographed many times wearing  sunhats while attending horse trials and the like. However, she has had a ‘working’ stylish sunhat or two, this one is from a visit to Kenya in 1971. She’s chatting to Jomo Kenyatta, the first president of the country which gained independence from Britain in 1963.

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Full points to Queen Maxima who protects her face with a large hat, keeps her eyes sun safe, stays hydrated – and looks gorgeous – during a 2018 visit to the Caribbean island of Curacao. (SunSafe motto: Slip, slop, slap and wrap – slip on a shirt/into the shade, slop on sunblock, slap on a hat and wrap on sunglasses.) 

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Oddly, Crown Princess Mary isn’t often pictured wearing hats in her native Australia, despite the sun’s stronger effects there. This large hat was worn in November, 2011. The occasion was the awards ceremony for Sculpture by the Sea in New South Wales (they’re pictured with a piece in the third photo in the sequence below).

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Pictured at a children’s swim event in Monaco in 1964, Princess Grace keeps the sun off with a lovely straw hat. Sitting in front of her, enjoying lollipops are Prince Albert, 6, and Princess Caroline, 7 (in an intriguing swim hat). Princess Grace had just announced she would be having a third child in 1965.

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Forty-seven years later, Princess Caroline chose a sensible and stylish hat for the religious ceremony when Prince Albert married in 2011. Guests were seated in an outdoor courtyard at the Grimaldi Palace.

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I look forward to seeing other marvelous examples of stylish “weather dressing” unearthed by Royal Hats readers!

Sun, rain and snow hats are usually left for our weekly end-of-week “Extra’s” posts and it’s fun to bring them out for full review and admiration here! Thank you so much, Sandra! I particularly love your description of Queen Margrethe and her fashion as ‘effervescent’.

Photos from Getty as indicated