June 02 2011
Lucia van der Post
Summer is traditionally the high wedding season, and where there’s a wedding, there’s a call for a hat. The royal wedding gave those of us pondering a new hat a perfect opportunity to survey a vast parade of headgear, and it proved that hats are far more flattering than fascinators, which often look just plain daft. For my money, the most beguiling hat of the wedding was the soft-straw dusty-pink veiled cloche on the head of Spain’s Princess Letizia. It did what proper hats should do, which is to make its wearer look even more beautiful.
If a cloche is what you think might work for you, the wonderful old Italian brand of Grevi is the name to look for – check its website, filled with charming photographs and a history telling us that it has been producing hats since 1875.
Fenwick of New Bond Street, whose hat department I love, always has a good selection; prices mostly range between £60 and £100 for cotton hats and £150 to £200 for straws. Two new designers to look out for there are Rachel Richardson, who has some lovely straw hats shaped rather like shallow coolie hats, often embellished with shiny PVC flowers (a beige and black striped version with a deep red flower and bow, third picture, is £299). Also there’s Piers Atkinson, who might be called the king of florals. He does delicious little straw hats embellished with flowers and veils (a lovely lilac version sells for £299, second picture).
For more proof that there are people other than Philip Treacy who can do great things for faces, turn to Hat Gallery M/V, opened a few months ago by Marly Vroemen, whose hat boutiques in Amsterdam and Düsseldorf already have quite a reputation for innovative millinery. The shop in London’s Conduit Street is her newest venture and here you can find designs you won’t find anywhere else. Look out for Nerida Fraiman, whose hats are really more for parties than weddings – little numbers embellished with sequins, silver, jewels and net. Prices mostly range from £225 to £400 (first picture: diamond-cut feather spray, £240).
Also at the gallery, Mirjam Nuver is a Dutch designer who uses lots of organza and tinted straw, shaped by hand, to make spectacularly pretty hats for those moments when you need to make a bit of a splash (an ex might be there?); prices range from £300 to £400. Finally, look out for Karen Henriksen, who does for hats what Ingo Maurer does for lights – that is, make them look light, diaphanous and as if they’re floating. She uses ultra-fine straw to make hats that are quite strange yet beautiful and flattering. Prices start at £90 and go up to £400. If you want something different from the usual run of the mill, Hat Gallery M/V is a great place to start.