British Royal Wedding Four Years On: The Kent Family

A wedding Some of my favourite hats worn at the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding four years ago were worn by the Kent branch of the British extended royal family. Here is a peek back at these hats.

The Duchess of Kent channelled spring in a percher cocktail hat with pale pink base. The centrepiece of the hat was its trim- a large bouquet of silk flowers and leaves, ribbon loops and soft white feathers. We don’t see many percher hats on royal ladies of a certain age and while this one showed that Katharine’s millinery approach has stayed right on trend, the soft colours were very flattering and suited her well.

Lady Helen Taylor (the Duchess of Kent’s daughter)  topped her floral appliquéd Erdem dress and coat with a coordinating embellished beret. In electric blue straw, the beret was trimmed with a side spray of white silk flowers and a tall swath of blue dotted net tulle. I assume the white flowers were added to tie in with the flowers on the dress but they didn’t work for me- the hit of white created a jarring contrast that put the whole outfit into ‘too much’ territory. With a fussy dress and coat, I think Helen would have done better with a less fussy hat.

The Duchess of Kent’s daughter-in-laws wore contrasting pieces in pale hues. The Countess of St. Andrews topped her oyster lace trimmed suit with a large picture hat. In pale beige straw, the hat featured a flat crown and wide mushroom brim. The hat’s only embellishment was a large bow which fanned over one side of the brim (you can see the bow here at 36:30). Lady Nicholas Windsor topped her pale pink suit with a Philip Treacy fascinator of purple orchids and swirling feathers. I thought the styling on Paola’s ensemble was perfect- her clean lined suit, simple jewellery and elegant up-do allowed this statement headpiece to be showed to maximum effect. I adored it on her.

2011-04-29 Andrews 5

The Countess of St. Andrews’ two daughters, Lady Marina and Lady Amelia Windsor, both chose black hats. Lady Marina wore a large lampshade hat in black and grey straw. The graphic stripes of straw on each layer of the tiered hat were countered by a massive and curvaceous grey straw bow on the back of the hat. The end result was a dramatic and very classic hat reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. Lady Amelia wore a more streamlined hat in black straw with a diagonally raised brim and a wide white band around the crown.

Lady Marina Windsor and Lady Amelia Windsor, April 29, 2011 | Royal Hats

Princess Alexandra topped her blue brocade suite with a monochrome picture hat. With a blue straw base, the hat was covered in ruched silk organza and trimmed at the side with large blue silk roses and gold feathers. While the overlaid fabric on the hat gave considerable texture, it combined with Alexandra’s suit to make and ensemble suffering from fabric texture overload. I think this hat would have worked better sans overlay, keeping those romantic floral embellishments.

Princess Alexandra of Kent, April 29, 2011 | Royal Hats   Princess Alexandra of Kent, April 29, 2011 | Royal Hats

Julia Ogilvy, Princess Alexandra’s daughter-in-law, topped her taupe dress and ivory lace coat with a cream straw picture hat. The streamlined Philip Treacy design was simply trimmed with a band around the crown and a signature Treacy large flying bow.

Princess Alexandra of Kent and Julia Ogilvy, April 29, 2011 | Royal Hats  Julia Ogilvy, April 29, 2011 in Philip Treacy | Royal Hats

Princess Michael of Kent chose characteristically dramatic millinery for this event. While her white picture hat followed a fairly traditional shape, the scale of the wide cartwheel brim was larger than life. The huge hat was trimmed with a wide scarf of ruched silk that looked to be effortlessly thrown over the hat. Marie-Christine wears dramatic hats so very well and this was no exception. I adore the wide brim and appreciate the way the large scale hat balanced her shiny satin Andrea Odicini jacket.

2011-04-29 Michael 1

One of the newest members to the British Royal Family, Lady Frederick Windsor wowed with her millinery choice at this event. Designed by Philip Treacy, Sophie’s navy straw hat featured a moulded crown (as opposed to a seam-joined crown) with wide, oval brim. The elliptical brim was balanced by another Treacy signature multi-looped flying bow. While very simple, the hat is quite a bold design. I particularly loved the way the asymmetrical hat both complemented and contrasted against Sophie’s streamlined Armani coat and dress.

Wearing one of my favourite hats at this wedding, Lady Gabriella Windsor was a vision in peacock blue. Her vibrant picture hat featured an upturned ‘slice’ brim which was trimmed with large silk roses and an arrow feather. The shape was wonderful on Garbiella and I adored how her pale seafoam coat and dress created just the right background for her bright hat and matching purse to ‘pop’. This slice hat is a slightly smaller scale than others in this same style and while it works wonderfully as is, I think it could easily have handled an up-sizing.

 Prince Michael of Kent Family, April 29, 2011 | Royal Hats
The Kents brought us stylish cocktail berets and sublime picture hats at this wedding. Which hat(s) stand out most to you? Stay tuned later today when we look at hats worn by some of the royal guests.
Photos from Getty as indicated, Woman and Home, and BBC TV via The British Monarchy. Source of final photo is unknown.

British Royal Wedding Four Years On: Linleys, Chattos and Gloucesters

Royal Hats Some of my favourite royal hats worn at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge four years ago were worn by extended members of the British Royal family. Here is the first of two posts devoted to looking back at these hats.

Viscountess Linley kicks off our review in a straw based cocktail hat covered in small rectangles of silk. These rectangles were placed to form the petals for structured flowers, anchored with pearl button centres. These most unusual flowers were not only striking, but created the most wonderfully layered and textured effect on the hat. With her streamlined cream Roland Mouret coat, the Stephen Jones designed hat made for a modern and very chic ensemble.

Lady Sarah Chatto also turned to Stephen Jones for her grey straw saucer hat. I adore the juxtaposition between the modern shape of the hat and Sarah’s 1950s inspired Jasper Conran dress. Lady Sarah has cream and black versions of this same hat that she wears frequently, sometimes with the addition of a brooch on the top of the hat. If you start the wedding video at 38:00, you’ll see the brooch sparkling on the hat during her arrival at the Abbey.

Viscountess Linley, Countess of Ulster and Lady Sarah Chatto, April 29, 2011 | Royal Hats

The Countess of Ulster (pictured above in front of Lady Sarah, wore a small black straw percher hat. Her mother-in-law, the Duchess of Gloucester (below), wore a dramatic navy and white hat. With a small white straw crown and large navy saddle brim, the hat was trimmed with curled ribbons around two sweeping navy feathers. This hat is much bolder than what we’re used to seeing on the Duchess and I thought it was smashing on her.

 The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester’s two daughters, Lady Davina Lewis and Lady Rose Gilman, also attended the wedding. Lady Rose’s headpiece consisted of a a large white headband topped with a large, muti-layered pinwheel flower. The pinwheel, in a slightly darker shade of grey than her coat dress, looked to be centered with faux pearls.

Lady Davina Lewis and Lady Rose Gilman, April 29, 2011 | Royal Hats

While difficult to see here, Lady Davina’s hat was made of the same navy satin as her dress. Built on top of the cocktail hat’s round base was a tall slope of folded silk in high waves. The bottom of this trim was made in magenta silk, revealing a shock of pink contrast at the back of the hat. It is a rather avant garde piece that you might need to see on video for a better look (you can see the Gloucester family’s arrival at Westminster Abbey here at 37:00).

Lady Davina Lewis and Lady Rose Gilman, April 29, 2011 | Royal Hats Lady Davina Lewis and Lady Rose Gilman, April 29, 2011 | Royal Hats

This group of hats shows great creativity and style, don’t you think? Stay tuned later tomorrow morning for some beautiful hats worn by the Kent cousins.
Photos from Getty as indicated and BBC TV via The British Monarchy

British Royal Wedding Four Years On: British Royal Family

A wedding For those of us royal hat fans, a royal wedding is a millinery extravaganza and no royal family does hats at big events like the British royal family. After looking at hats worn by the Queen and the Duchess of Cornwall at the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s nuptials four years ago, we turn our attention for the rest of the day to those worn by the British royals. First up, the hats worn by members of the Queen’s immediate family.

In 2011, the Countess of Wessex had started wearing Jane Taylor’s designs and that’s where she turned for a bespoke piece to wear with her Bruce Oldfield suit. Taylor created a beige pink straw cocktail hat which was liberally trimmed with silk roses and three large vertical feathers in the same shade. The hat heralded a new era of hat styls for Sophie and was the first of numerous beret-based cocktail hats that she appears to still favour today. While the visible headband was a little awkward, the hat looked great on Sophie.

Princess Anne splurged for a new hat in royal purple. The flat, curved base, which was edged in slim white ribbon and came to sharp points on both sides of the piece, was topped by a large flat silk rose and a swath of white net. The randomness of the hat still puzzles me- the shape is a little odd and the trim looks like it was plonked on top with little thought. The shape of this piece may work well with Anne’s antiquated hairstyle but for me, this was not a brilliant hat.

Zara Phillips topped her metallic coat with a show-stopping Philip Treacy hat. Made of black and silver straw, the large picture hat featured a sharply upturned ‘slice’ brim. The underside of the brim was trimmed with a giant multi-looped bow. It was a dramatic hat but really- would we have expected anything less from Zara?

Autumn Phillips topped her grey and purple printed coat with a cocktail hat of fluted grey straw. Tucked inside the smooth folds of the hat were grey silk flowers and slim feathers. The shape is pretty enough but I did not like the placement, way out on the side of Autunn’s head.

As for the York Princesses…. you already know about THAT hat.

For me, this hat was a complete disappointment and error in judgement. I couldn’t stand it then and I can’t stand it now. I despise the sheer ridiculousness of it. I loathe the way it upstaged Princess Beatrice’s gorgeous Valentino coat. I detest the way it monopolized attention at an event where Beatrice was not the star. I abhorred the way it ruined all shots of the Queen inside the Abbey (Bea was seated behind her granny) and I continue to curse how the press STILL refers to it as a fascinator (see the visible base? That clearly makes it a cocktail hat!). Most of all, I deeply resented how it this single piece created the perception that all royal hats were silly.

UPDATE: Several insightful commenters have reminded how Princess Beatrice turned this lemon into much lemonade, auctioning the hat for charity. It was a very classy move on her part and I admire her for it. And, as much as I didn’t like this piece worn to this wedding, it did get the entire world talking about royal hats. I just wish she had worn it to Ladies’ Day at Ascot instead.

Lucky for Princess Eugenie, Beatrice’s infamous hat drew attention away from her chapeau. Also a Philip Treacy design, her vertical cocktail hat was a bespoke creation to go with her Vivienne Westwood suit. Neither, I’m afraid, were a success. Eugenie’s hat, a crescent shaped electric blue boat worn smack on the top of her head, was trimmed with a bouquet of dark purple flowers and a large spray of pale grey feathers. I appreciate that the colours tied in with her suit but the shape of this piece was both unattractive and unflattering. I remember wishing it would just sail away…

In this group of hats, I see one as beautiful, one as bold, and several as bizarre. What did you think of the hats worn by Prince William’s royal aunts and cousins at his wedding?
Photos from Getty as indicated

British Royal Wedding Four Years On: Immediate Families

A wedding When Prince William married Catherine Middleton on April 29, 2011, there was nearly as much speculation about the colour of the Queen’s ensemble as there was about the bride’s dress. While bookies predicted blue, Queen Elizabeth arrived at Westminster Abbey in a dress, coat and hat in sunshine yellow. Designed by her longtime dresser Angela Kelly and made by in-house milliner Stella McLaren, the Queen’s sailor style hat featured a round, flat crown covered in the same silk crepe as her dress and coat. The flat straw brim was edged in a wide band of the same fabric and the hat was trimmed with a side spray of yellow silk crepe rosettes and velvet leaves. The side of the crown was also sewn with the same pintucks that starburst around the neckline of Her Majesty’s coat. While the shape of the hat was rather austere (and minimally flattering), the colour was the epitome of spring.

The Duchess of Cornwall went with her usual uniform of a tailored Valentine coat and larger-than-life Philip Treacy hat. While its wide, upturned brim gave the hat dramatic shape, the gossamer ivory straw it was constructed from made the hat feel very airy and light. Interestingly, Camilla had worn this hat before and was one of a few members of the family not to choose a new chapeau for this event.

Carole Middleton had the toughest fashion challenge of the day, coming up with a hat and frock that fit in with all the other royal guests. Her pale blue Catherine Walker coat hit just the right note and gave a subtle nod to William`s mother (who wore many Catherine Walker designs). Carole topped her hat with a Jane Corbett designed saucer hat in the same pale blue as her coat. The saucer was edged in a wide stripe of pale blue silk and the underside was trimmed with a folded ruffle of silk edged straw. The same ruffle trimmed the top of the hat, anchored with one of the embroidered frogs used for the closure on Carole`s coat. These details combined to create a balanced hat that looked beautiful on Kate`s mum.

In their pale pastel hues, these hats were well suited to this spring wedding. Did any stand out in particular to you?

Photos from Getty as indicated

British Royal Wedding Four Years On: The Bride

2011-04-29 William and Catherine

While much of the royal watching world has their attention glued to the doors of a certain hospital’s maternity wing, it seems like a great time to take a royal hat detour. Numerous readers here have requested look back at the hats worn at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. As the couple celebrates their fourth anniversary tomorrow, let’s revisit these millinery masterpieces.

Before we get to the hats, we need to look back at the bride. Expectations for Kate’s gown were monumental- not only was this a dress for a future queen, it was going to placed under more media scrutiny than any other British royal wedding gown had ever been before. Kate entrusted this challenge to Sarah Burton, creative director at Alexander McQueen, and reports are that the two worked closely together on the design.

The dress’ bodice followed a decidedly traditional shape, thanks to a McQueen signature boned corset, with a cinched waist and sweetheart neckline. Made of ivory satin gazar, it was overlaid in appliquéd silk net tulle; 58 gazar and organza buttons fastened up the back with rouleau loops.

While initial reports stated the lace was handmade, the Royal School of Needlework confirmed that the lace appliqué was cut out of larger lengths of lace produced on large 19th-century machines (from Sophie Hallette and Solstiss in France as well as the Cluny Lace Company in Derbyshire) then hand stitched to silk net tulle. This method of assembly created the illusion of lace woven to perfectly (and symmetrically) fit the bodice of the dress.

In a patriotic nod, Kate reportedly requested the lace include all flowers of Great Britain- roses for England, daffodils for Wales, thistles for Scotland, and shamrocks for Northern Ireland.

Following a traditionally Victorian shape, the dress was lightly padded at the hips and opened into a long, full skirt. The pleated skirt, described by McQueen as designed to echo an opening flower, featured a back bustle which flowed into a three metre (nine foot) train. Unlike many other trains on royal wedding dresses, McQueen’s incomparable structure held the shape of the dress and the train beautifully as Kate walked the aisle of Westminster Abbey. I loved how the train seamlessly flowed from the skirt, making it look like an integrated part of the design (instead of looking like a long bed sheet thrown on the back, as many royal wedding trains unfortunately do).

Also made of satin gazar, the skirt was covered in the same lace appliqué as the bodice. Unfortunately, the intricate lacework did not show up well on video and the detail we see now in photographs was not visible to viewers on television.

Kate topped her gown with a fingertip veil of ivory silk tulle edged in lace. For her processional down the aisle, she wore the blusher over her face. During the first hymn, her father folded it back.

Kate’s veil was was anchored by the Halo tiara; the scroll motif of the tiara was a beautiful compliment to the delicate lace on her gown and edging her veil. The Middletons commissioned diamond earrings for the daughter as a wedding present. The earrings that incorporated the scroll of the tiara and an acorn from their family crest.

Kate changed into a different McQueen gown for the private evening reception. The strapless dress was also made of white satin gazar and featured similar padded hips and full skirt. A diamante studded belt gave a little sparkle and Kate topped the dress with a short white angora cardigan to keep away the evening chill. While this dress was an anticlimactic end to Kate’s wedding fashion, it looks like a fun frock for dancing.

It was reported that Kate’s ‘something old’ was the 19th century style lace on her dress, ‘something new was her dress and earrings, ‘something borrowed’ was the tiara, and ‘something blue’ was a ribbon sewn inside the dress. While this may or not be true, what’s clear is that Kate followed very traditional shapes and materials for her dress. At the time, I remember those in the fashion world being slightly underwhelmed as it was not the high fashion masterpiece they had hoped for. Looking back, Kate’s dress seems entirely her- traditional, understated and classic with a subtle modern twist. It’s a royal wedding dress that I think will stand the test of time and look as beautiful to us viewers in 40 years as it does to us now. I think it  is a dress of exquisite detail that was a perfect proportion for both Kate and for Westminster Abbey.

What did you think of Kate’s wedding dresses? Did you think the Halo tiara was the right choice for her? Stay tuned first thing tomorrow morning for our first look at the hats worn at this wedding. As I’m sure you can recall, there were some corkers.

Imperial Couple Award Midori Prize

The Midori Prize is a biennial international prize awarded to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity at global, regional or local levels. The 9th prize was awarded yesterday at a ceremony in Tokyo attended by the Emperor and Empress. Empress Michiko repeated her pale grey rimmed saucer hat with folded flower trim in the same charcoal grey as her suit. Interestingly, this is the same hat we saw the Empress wear last week– since she seldom repeats the same hat back to back, we can only guess she is very fond of this one. Of all her grey hats, this one is certainly my favourite as well.

Empress Michiko, April 27, 2015 | Royal Hats

Empress Michiko, April 27, 2015 | Royal Hats

Designer: likely Akio Hirata
Previously Worn: April 17, 2015; January 14, 2015;  April 11, 2014December 6, 2013; December 2, 2013

Photos from Asahi 

Takamado Princess Supports Arctic Science

Princess Hisako of Takamado travelled to Toyama City yesterday to officially open Arctic Science Summit Week. For this honour, Princess Hisako wore a cream straw hat we have not seen on her before. At its base, this hat is quite simple- it’s a classic bowler with rounded crown and short, folded brim. The trim, a wide fluted band anchored to the base of the crown, gives structural interest to the piece and makes the bowler shape disappear. I’m not sure this hat is entirely successful (it looks like it has two unrelated brims) but is is a creative shape and I’m all about encouraging millinery experimentation with the Imperial royals. This piece immediately reminded me of Queen Beatrix’s ‘spool’ hats– what do you think of it?

Princess Hisako, April 26, 2015 | Royal Hats


Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: This hat is new

Photo from Kitanippon Shimbun