On Wednesday, Empress Emeritus Michiko and Crown Princess Kiko, along with their husbands, visited Meiji Shrine ahead of its 100th anniversary today. The former empress wore a small cream rimmed saucer with white lattice crin underbrim and folded bow. Princess Kiko wore a white bumper hat.
The following new millinery designs caught my eye this week:
Queen Silvia celebrated Swedish National Day, along with the king, in Ludvika last Thursday in a repeated ivory felt calot hat with silk flower and brown feather trim. Festivities later in the day saw the Queen and adult princesses in folk costume with traditional white cotton folded hats.
Also on Thursday, Prince Harry was in uniform to preside over the annual Founder’s Day Parade at the Royal Hospital Chelsea (a retirement and nursing home for former members of the British Army). Royal Hospital residents, known as Chelsea Pensioners, wore their distinctive tri-corn hats.
On Thursday, Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko conducted rites related to the abdication at the Musashi Imperial Graveyard in Tokyo. The empress emerita repeated a slate grey veiled saucer with knotted bow.
On Saturday, members of the Imperial royal family attended the 5th anniversary memorial ceremony for Prince Katsura. The Imperial royal women, who included the Empress, the late Prince’s mother, Princess Yoriko and sister, Yasuko Konoe (formerly Princess Yasuko of Mikasa) all wore black hats.
Infanta Elena and her father, King Juan Carlos, attended the men’s singles final match yesterday at the French Open Tennis tournament in Paris in summery straw fedora hats
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko have been busy this week, the final week before the emperor’s abdication next Tuesday, with a series of events in Tokyo. On Tuesday, two days ago, the couple visited the Mausoleum of Emperor Showa (Emperor Akihito’s late father) to report the upcoming abdication. For this rite, Empress Michiko repeated a charcoal grey disc hat with knotted bow and black dotted veil.
Designer: likely Akio Hirata
Previously Worn: I think this is new.Interestingly, she has a similar one in black that we’ve seen a few times (here and here and here) over the past two decades.
Later that same day, the emperor and empress visited Takao Mikoromo Seido, a temple for victims of work accidents. For this visit, Empress Michiko repeated her silver shantung silk rimmed saucer hat with flecked charcoal grey double bow in the same fabric as her jacket. The sheen on the base of the hat, thanks to that shantung silk, is so pretty.
Yesterday, the couple visited the Luxembourg Embassy to offer condolences on the death of Grand Duke Jean. Empress Michiko repeated a mini pillbox variation with raised height around the front, trimmed with a simple, fanning black silk and dotted net veil.
Today, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko attended the Midori Academic awards ceremony. For this final official engagement of the Heisei period (the emperor’s reign), the empress repeated a hat we have much admired in recent weeks. Covered in oyster silk, this saucer features an ivory crin lattice underbrim and layered bow two-toned bow, trimmed in darker grey silk piping. The detailed view of the hat, below, shows the silk covering it (and on the empress’ suit) is woven with a metallic thread woven, giving it the most beautifully gentle sparkle.
Like many of you, my awareness of the Imperial royal family has grown during the later years of the emperor’s reign and my knowledge of the Chrysanthemum throne is limited at best. I have come to know Empress Michiko through her hats and have come to appreciate them and their wearer for their quiet elegance. I’m sure you join me in wishing this couple a smooth transition into their new role and the ability to truly enjoy a restful retirement which they have earned.
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko journeyed to Ise this week to take part in rituals at Ise Jingu Shrine related to the emperor’s upcoming abdication. One of the most sacred Shinto shrines in the country that can only be overseen by a chief priest or priestess from the Imperial family, it is currently under the charge of Sayako Kuroda, the couple’s daughter, who celebrated her 50th birthday on Thursday.
The Emperor and Empress’ arrival at Ujiyamada Station on Wednesday gave us a great view of the oyster hat Empress Michiko recently brought into rotation. The lattice crin underbrim and darker grey piping on the bow are delicate touches to be appreciated and ones easily missed from the further views we usually get. These subtle contrasts give layers of texture and interest to the hat, making it a much more complex and nuanced design than it appears at first glance.
Designer: unknown. Likely Akio Hirata
Previously Worn: March 25 2014;
Following the shine visit, Empress Michiko repeated her pale pink disc with crin underbrim, trimmed with double silk bows and silk flowers. It’s another delicate design (and not grey!) that she wears really well.
For the couple’s return train journey to Tokyo yesterday, the Empress repeated her slate bluey-grey rimmed saucer with looped silk bow trim. We’ve seen this hat a few times on Michiko but it remains a great one on her- at closer view, the silk bows have the most beautiful sheen that just makes the hat.
It’s amazing to think that there will be a new emperor and empress in Japan in 10 days… and while it’s unclear what role this couple will have, I hope we’ll see them from time to time. I’ve come to appreciate many of Empress Michiko’s signature saucers – especially some of the ones here – and I would hate to see both the hats and their very dignified and elegant wearer disappear altogether from public view.