Ascot Day 1: British Royals Part 2

Royal Hats Is there anything more fun than chatting about Royal Ascot hats? I am so honoured to be joined by milliners Christie Murray, Fiona Mangan and Jill Courtemanche, here to share their millinery expertise and thoughts on the final royal hats we saw today on the first day of the Ascot races.
Princess Anne in a new hat of unknown design

Jill: This is a hat seemingly more fit for a hunt than the races. I think the colors are lovely on her but the detailed, feathered up-brim feels too fallish and the billowy fabric around the crown is dated. It doesn’t convey the joy or freshness of the fashion that is more customary at Royal Ascot.

Royal Hats: Jill, it might not feel ‘fresh’ because the coat is from 1980!  2 words come to mind- feather overdose.

Christie: I think that the shape of the hat is very age-appropriate and I love the look of the feathers on the upturned brim.  I just can’t say that I’m a big fan of the trim.  The material is quite wide and heavy, and is draped quite loosely. I’m not 100% on the feather and brooch detailing either. I think, the shape and idea of this hat is there, but tend to think that less-is-more in this instance.  Princess Anne is so elegant and I’d love to see this hat paired back a bit, even with no trim, to let the feather work and shape speak for itself.

Fiona: Oh dear….I feel the hat is more suited to a winter race meeting with all those guinea fowl feathers (I suspect, they are some kind of guinea fowl) to the underside of the brim although it is a sinamay hat. Not particularly liking the loosely draped fabric around the crown either and it looks a little shoddy on the top edge, as though it was badly blocked or perhaps squished in a suitcase!!!! The outfit wouldn’t be my favourite, not a fan of that rich beige colour. On the plus side, this hat shape is nice on her and I love her skinny belt. So I think Anne on this occasion, in my opinion, has not got it right!

Zara Phillips Tindall in a new cocktail hat by Rosie Olivia. Dress by Paul Costelloe.

Fiona: Nice, simply detailed hat which suits Zara very well. I like the combination of nude sissal and primrose yellow flowers though there is nothing particularly stand-outish about this hat, she played quite safe today! The yellow colour she seems to like a lot and we see it on Zara quite a bit. That dress is beautiful – the cap sleeves and turtle-neck collar do wonders for her figure. Overall a nice look.

Jill: Lovely and those daffodil yellow flowers, made from goose feathers are gorgeous (if I was there I would have a hard time keeping from reaching out to touch them)! From all angles this hat is chic and suits her perfectly.

Royal Hats: I adore the fresh,unexpected colour scheme. At first glance, I missed that the flowers are constructed from feathers and agree that they are fantastic. It’s a very pretty hat with a sense of humour that I really appreciate.

Christie: How lovely is this colour on Zara Phillips! The feather flowers are very clever, they bring a floaty, lovely element to the piece. Again, I don’t think it’s actually on quite correctly, which does make it difficult to comment on balance. It’s looks as if it should be sitting slightly lower and more forwards on her face, which I think would then help the straw drape to work with the lines in her look.  I really love how she’s accessorised this outfit, it really nails the summer racing brief.

Autumn Phillips in a new saucer hat by Gina Foster. It is the “Anzio” design.

Christie: It looks like a beautifully constructed hat, again I just want to go and tilt it on her head so that it’s sitting beautifully! The curls in the half-burnt ostrich feathers work well the the lace detailing in her outfit. As a blonde, and with the hat in sinamay, she can get away with more black in her look, without it being too heavy.  Although, I’d still love to see it broken up a bit ~ I do love colour for Royal Ascot!

Jill: Very nice, I love the saucer shape and that the floral trim frames her face above and below the brim. The most important factor here is that she is wearing it correctly, so often these platters are sitting flat on the head and without the angle they can be too harsh to the profile. My only comment on this would be that it would have been nice to pull a little white into the trim to match her skirt and brighten the whole thing up a bit.

Fiona: Nothing spectacular about this whole outfit, looks very last minute and possibly a little cheap and nasty overall! That wrap-top does nothing for her and the hat might be improved if the placement was slanted more. The twisted spines needed to be better thought out and less crazy looking for such a safe outfit. Sorry Autumn, not a huge fan of the outfit today!

Royal Hats: Fiona, you have me rethinking my adoration for this hat! I still love it it but agree that the outfit isn’t Autumn’s best.

Lady Sarah Chatto in a repeated saucer hat by Stephen Jones

Christie: How lovely is this image! I think that Lady Chatto has stayed very true to her personal style with this headpiece, I can’t imagine her being comfortable in anything large and ostentatious.  I like how there’s a sneaky fur felt crown with a sinamay brim, it works well with the lines in her jacket. I would have loved to have seen her hat slightly more tilted, and her hair up with this look, but other-wise it’s very paired back elegance, and very her.

Royal Hats: The hat is lovely (although I would love to see a different shape on Sarah) but since the straw brim shows as grey, I really don’t like it paired with with this black and brown striped coat. Sarah has a cream hat in this style that I think would worked much better.

Fiona: I think this hat is a little small and would look better placed at a slant. I do however like the simplicity of it and the velvet juxtaposed with the sinamay, it is a good combination. Although I am not a mad fan of brown I think she can carry the horizontally striped coat well.

Jill: This is very safe, it’s a clean line and very classic. My only issue is that it is sitting too far back on her head, the brim line should be more in line with her eyebrows. I don’t even mind the velvet as it is paired with the open weave straw but it would have been more adventurous in brown or with a bit of trim to mark the liveliness of the occasion.

Immense thanks to Christie Murray, Fiona Mangan and Jill Courtemanche for your contributions today. We will all be back late tomorrow to chat about the hats from the second day of the races.  To sign off now, here is a peek at a few more royal hats spotted at the Ascot racecourse today:

Duke of York and Prince Harry, June 16, 2015 | Royal Hats
Prince Andrew, Duke of York and Prince Harry in silk top hats – one polished and one not. After our wonderful tutorial on buying a silk top hat last week, I find the look of an unpolished silk hat rather ragged in comparison!
Lady Grimthorpe, June 16, 2015 | Royal Hats  Duchess of Devonshire, June 16, 2015 | Royal Hats
Lady Grimthorpe and the Duchess of Devonshire

The Duchess of Gloucester in a repeated navy straw beret

And my pick for favourite non-royal hats today? A fantastical headpiece by master milliner John Boyd and an elaborately flowered saucer hat by Edwina Ibbotson. I think they both capture the spirit of Royal Ascot millinery!
Photos from IKM/Splash News,  Anthony Stanley/Retna Ltd. and Anthony Stanley/Retna Ltd. via Corbis; Getty as indicated