Image: Peter Ashworth
May 07 2010
Lucia van der Post
Funny how we’ve never had “It” hats. We’ve had the “It” bag and plenty of “It” shoes, but this soubriquet has never made its way over to millinery – largely, no doubt, because, unlike shoes and handbags, we don’t have to wear them every day and we can segue through life without too many of them, even though that would be rather a pity. Particularly this year when there is a surfeit of witty and beguiling hats around.
Stephen Jones (first picture), who attentive readers will remember makes all the hats for John Galliano’s shows, has produced a special little collection for Ascot, all commissioned by a new hotel, Coworth Park Country House Hotel & Spa, which is close to the course at Ascot and opens later this year. There are just four designs and he’ll be making five models of each and all to special order only.
Each design has a theme connected with the hotel. I like best the Décor version, a chic confection of black tulle and an orange leather rose on a hairband, but others might go for the chic orange flower-trimmed black top hat (the Royal Ascot), while yet others may prefer the long branch of white silk flowers (the Glyndebourne). All can be seen at his London shop and two of the models will be on sale in Harrods’ millinery department.
(First picture shows Stephen Jones with, clockwise from top left, the resin Splash hat, £1,185; Royal Ascot, £1,260; Glyndebourne, £1,185; and Décor, £1,440.)
If you want a new name, let me introduce you to the work of Melissa Pemberton-Pigott, whom Fenwick spotted at the Kensington and Chelsea College HNC millinery show and whose entire collection it has bought up. She does small hats, sometimes with leather bases, which she embellishes with exquisite detailing. She’s taken Darwin’s The Origin of Species as her theme and used silk organza to create wonderful orchids, while her veiled top hat is painted with divine little beetles. She also uses quills and feathers, all very time-consuming, which is why they cost £700 a time. But get there first before everybody else discovers this bright new talent.
Lucinda Hostombe at Hostie Hats is also still doing small hats, many of them tiny pillboxes; one is covered in little bows (Lisbon, second picture, £49), and there’s also one with orchids on an Alice band (Lola, £89) – great for the young and quirky. They sell for between £30 and £300.
If, like me, you’ve always loved Patricia Underwood’s elegant straws but found them on the expensive side, look out for Kokin, a New York milliner who has a similar aesthetic, doing very fine straws, including the Sunday Floppy hat (£299) and the Sunday Cloche (£269, both from Fenwick).
Meanwhile, the general trend, it seems, is moving away from the tiny fascinators that dominated millinery departments last year to slightly larger hats. Stephen Jones himself, in the collection going into Harrods, has done some gorgeous large hats, including a very dramatic black straw and pink satin bicorne embellished with a big pink rose (Je Ne Sais Quoi, £1,200) and a large, cloche-shaped white-trimmed navy straw with a vast ribbon trimming (NY, £1,428). Not for shy, retiring types, but very much for those who think that the true function of a hat is to add a big dollop of glamour to the proceedings.