Ogilvy Wedding, Twenty-Eight Years On

Anniversary  Over the weekend, James and Julia Ogilvy (James is the son of Princess Alexandra and the late Angus Ogilvy)  celebrated their twenty-eighth wedding anniversary. We don’t often look back at millinery fashion from the late 1980s so I thought we’d grab the opportunity of this milestone to do so.

James Ogilvy and Julia Rawlinson met during their first year at St. Andrews University and married on July 30, 1988 at St. Mary The Virgin Church in Saffron Walden, a small market town in the bride’s home county of Essex just south of Cambridge. Julia wore a gown in white dupioni silk with a v-neck, fitted bodice, and full, ballgown skirt that swept into a short train. The dress is firmly dated in the late 1980s by the voluminous leg ‘o mutton sleeves trimmed with bows (a popular design detail that in all likelihood was also on the back of the dress!). Devoid of lace or beaded trimming, the stars of this dress are its silhouette and the silk of which it is made. Not surprising for a country wedding of a more distant member of the royal family, Julia forwent a tiara and anchored her silk tulle veil with a crescent of fresh flowers to match her bouquet.

The bridesmaids, which included Lady Gabriella Windsor (front left, below), wore dresses in the same white dupioni silk with pale pink sashes and similar floral headpieces to the bride. The bridal party had a quintessentially English country look that might seem familiar thanks to the popular movie “Four Weddings And A Funeral” which screened just six years later.

Princess Alexandra topped her cerulean blue suit with a matching straw hat. While not as tall as the designs we see her favour today, the hat had many design elements that seem “oh-so Alexandra”- a pork pie shaped crown, wide brim and lavish silk flower trim. It’s a wonderful hat and the saturated colour was particularly beautiful on her. Alexandra’s daughter Marina, shown on the right in the photo below, wore a classically shaped hat in black textured straw with a wide brim.

Princess Alexandra, July 30, 1988 | Royal Hats

Queen Elizabeth wore a two toned straw hat with rounded black crown and flat, yellow brim. A wide yellow hatband and spray of black cherries completed the hat. The cherries were an unusual and fun trim and while the graphic hat did an excellent job of grounding the eye-assaulting paint splattered suit, I think the entire ensemble was so firmly rooted in the late 1980s that it’s best left there.


Diana, Princess of Wales, topped her Catherine Walker dress and grey coat with white straw picture hat by Philip Somerville. The hat, with a short upturn on the brim, was simply trimmed with a ruched white hatband and marks a time when the princess was transitioning from the smaller, fussier hats she wore in the early years of her marriage to the more streamlined style she adopted over the next decade.

The complete antithesis of Diana’s streamlined hat, Princess Margaret’s hat was textbook 1980s excess! In vibrant royal blue, her halo brimmed design was entirely covered in silk blooms on the underside of the brim that framed her face like a peephole in a rose garden. Attractive? I’m not sure. Memorable? Absolutely!

1988-07-30 Ogilvy wedding 1

While just twenty-two years old at the time of this wedding, Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones (now Lady Sarah Chatto) was already showing signs of her uncluttered millinery style and preference for classic hat shpaes with a simple straw wide-brimmed hat with contrasting hat band.1988-07-30 Ogilvy wedding 3

The Duchess of Gloucester topped her red suit with a large boater style hat in straw trimmed with side sprays of flowers both above and below the brim and a monochrome hatband. The Duchess of Kent went for fashionable 1980s polka dots with her ensemble, matching her pale pink dotted suit to the bumper brim of her hat. It looks like the hat was finished with a bow at the back and a pale pink straw domed crown.

The Duchess of Kent’s daughter, Lady Helen Windsor (now Lady Helen Taylor) was typically fashion-forward in a crownless straw hat with upturned brim trimmed with a large scarf of blue organza at the back that trailed down her back (see it at the 6:00 mark in the video below)

1988-07-30 Ogilvy wedding 6

Finally, Princess Michael of Kent wore a pale pink straw hat edged in black piping, placed at a rakish diagonal angle on the side of her head. We’re so used to grand design elements (soaring brims, huge feathers etc.) on Marie Christine’s current hats that the smaller scale and gentle shape of this piece makes for a great surprise.

1988-07-30 Ogilvy wedding 7 1988-07-30 Ogilvy wedding 8

1980s fashion is often not regarded with kindness and while several design elements in the hats seen here seem rather dated, I think they are wonderfully elegant examples of the millinery fashions of the day. What hats stand out to you most at this wedding?

1988-06-30 group

Photos from Getty as indicated; Rex/Shutterstock; and Princess Diana Archive/Stringer via Getty

Hats From The Past

Royal Hats Here are three royal hats worn on this day by three generations of the British royal family. While the timeline here covers sixty years, we still see iterations of these hat styles and shapes today.

Queen Mary, February 12, 1932

Queen Elizabeth in Kuwait, February 12, 1979

Princess Diana in India (wearing a Philip Somerville design), February 12, 1992

Photo from Getty as indicated

Who Wore it Best: December Poll Results

The Royal Hats Blog

The Royal Hats Bog

The very last bit of business from 2013 we need to attend to is unveiling the result from our last poll. The clear winner of the black fur Russian-style hat was

Archduchess Kathleen, Dec. 29, 2012  | The Royal Hats Blog

Archduchess Kathleen of Austria, Dec. 29, 2012  

The Austrian royal ladies captured the top two spots in this poll with Princess Beatrix not far behind in third place. Stay tuned later today for the first poll of 2014!

 Photos from PurePeople; Princess Diana Fan Blog; UK Press via Getty; Hoy.es; Samir Hussein via Getty; Christophe Karaba via Corbis; Chris Jackson/Getty via Zimbio; and PurePeople

Who Wore it Best: December 2013 Poll

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The Royal Hats Bog

Many of the European and North American readers of this blog are deep in the throes of winter and will celebrate a snowy white Christmas next week. It seems fitting, therefore, to wrap up this year’s Who Wore It Best polls with the most traditional of royal winter millinery- a black fur (either faux or real) Cossack-style brimless Papakha hat. The hats seen here span four decades and are warming the heads of royals from five countries. With that breadth, it seems this hat is a royal classic. The question remains, however, Who Wore It Best?

*Note- for clarification purposes, each of the following royal ladies has been referred to by their current title and not their title at the time the photograph was taken. 

Archduchess Marie-Astrid of Austria, Dec. 29, 2013 | The Royal Hats Blog Princess Diana, February 1985  | The Royal Hats Blog Countess of Wessex, Jan. 6, 1999  | The Royal Hats Blog Queen Mathilde, Feb. 2, 2002 | The Royal Hats Blog

Archduchess Marie-Astrid of Austria, Dec. 29, 2012; Princess Diana in February 1985 
The Countess of Wessex, Jan. 6, 1999; Queen Mathilde of Belgium, Feb. 2, 2002 

Princess Anne, March 13, 2013 | The Royal Hats Blog Princess Beatrix, Jan.15, 2005 | The Royal Hats Blog Queen Elizabeth, Feb. 3, 2009 | The Royal Hats Blog Dec. 29, 2012  | The Royal Hats Blog

Princess Anne, March 13, 2013; Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, Jan.15, 2005;
Queen Elizabeth on February 3, 2009; Archduchess Kathleen of Austria, Dec. 29, 2012  

As usual, the poll will remain open until midnight GMT on January 1, 2014 and we will celebrate the winner the next morning. You are again welcome to vote as many times as you wish.

 Photos from PurePeople; Princess Diana Fan Blog; UK Press via Getty; Hoy.es; Samir Hussein via Getty; Christophe Karaba via Corbis; Chris Jackson/Getty via Zimbio; and PurePeople

Remembering One of the Greats

If we were able to turn back the clock twenty-five years, one of the designers we would be talking about most on this blog would be Frederick Fox. Australian born Freddie, as he was known, moved to London after completing his training and was called upon to make several hats for the Queen in the late 1960s. By the 1980s, he was not only making hats for Queen Elizabeth, but also the Queen Mother, Princess Alice, Princess Alexandra, Princess Anne, Princess Michael of Kent, the Duchess of Gloucester and the Princess of Wales. He held a royal warrant as “Milliner to the Queen” from 1974 until his retirement in 2002.

Frederick Fox passed away last week in his eighty second year. Here are a few of his hundreds of royal hats and some final words from the millinery genius himself.

Queen Elizabeth, 1977 in Frederick Fox | The Royal Hats Blog Princess Diana, November 10, 1985 in Frederick Fox | The Royal Hats Blog Queen Elizabeth, 1983 in Frederick Fox | The Royal Hats Blog

Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee, 1977; Princess Diana in the USA, 1985; Queen Elizabeth in 1983

Queen Elizabeth, April 1989 in Frederick Fox | The Royal Hats BlogQueen Elizabeth, October 2000 in Frederick Fox | The Royal Hats Blog

Queen Elizabeth in Fox hats in April 1989 and October 2000

Queen Elizabeth, Feb 20, 2002 in Frederick Fox | The Royal Hats Blog Queen Elizabeth, 1981 in Frederick Fox | The Royal Hats Blog Queen Elizabeth, June 12, 2005 in Frederick Fox | The Royal Hats Blog

Queen Elizabeth in Jamaica, February 2002; in 1981; and at the King’s Cup in 2005

Princess Diana, 1985, in Frederick Fox | The Royal Hats Blog Princess Michael of Kent, June 19, 1996, in Frederick Fox | The Royal Hats Blog Queen Elizabeth, June 2, 2002 in Frederick Fox | The Royal Hats Blog

Princess Diana in Italy, 1985; Princess Michael at Ascot, 1996;  Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee June 2002

Photos from Douglas Kirkland via Corbis; Getty via Vogue; Walters/Rex USA via Vanity FairVogueVogueTim Graham via Getty; Woman’s DayChris Jackson via Getty; Tim Graham/AP via PeopleTim Graham and Tim Graham via Getty  

Keeping Royal Hats in Place

Royal Hats Blog Reader Arianna submitted a question I suspect many readers are wondering about: And now you must allow me a silly question, but I’m always wondering about it: how do these hats stay on? Especially the ones placed at an angle… Is there a comb inside? I think I’m not the only one among your followers who asks herself this question!  

This is a great question (and for the record, not all royal hats stay on royal heads!). For an answer, I turned to talented American millinery designer, Jill Courtemanche. Her perspective, from the ‘inside out’, is most insightful. Here is what she had to say:

With the younger generation of royals taking center stage in the last few years, the classic cocktail hat has been reinvented and rebranded as the fascinator. These often whimsical fancies come in all shapes and sizes and give the impression that they are defying gravity; suspended in mid-air atop a well coiffed lady.

In my shop in southern California I have a wall of these little perchers and it is always the first stop for clients looking to play dress up, and they always ask the same question, “I love fascinators but how do I keep them on my head?”. There are as many answers to this question as there are heads, as everyone has a different sense of how a hat feels comfortable and every milliner has their own special trick on how to make it fit just right. Here are a few of the more commonly used options:

My personal favorite, as I find it to be the most comfortable for all day wear, is an elastic. Preferably the elastic should be the same color as the wearer’s hair and is worn under the hair at the back, resting below the bump on the back of the head. You can see an example of this here on Princess Marie of Denmark.

Princess Marie, Oct. 6, 2009 | The Royal Hats Blog   Princess Marie, Oct. 6, 2009 | The Royal Hats Blog

Princess Marie attending the opening of Danish Parliament, Oct. 6, 2009

Probably the most common way to attach a fascinator is with a headband. One of the advantages for the designer of using a headband is one can be sure the hat is perched just so. A headband can only be worn one way ensuring perfect positioning every time. The milliner can choose to make the headband very narrow so that it blends in with the wearers hair as seen here on Zara Phillips or incorporate the headband into the design itself for a more seamless look, as seen here on the Countess of Wessex.

Zara Phillips, Dec. 25, 2012 in Karen Henriksen  | The Royal Hats Blog   Countess of Wessex, April 29, 2011 in Jane Taylor | The Royal Hats Blog

Zara Phillips, Dec. 25, 2012 in a Karen Henriksen design
The Countess of Wessex in a Jane Taylor design for William and Kate’s wedding, April 29, 2011

One of the more classic ways of keeping on a hat which is traditionally worn further back on the head, such as a pillbox style is with combs. Seen here on Princess Diana and Princess Beatrice, there is usually a wider comb at the front of the hat, acting as a true anchor and then floater combs or loops for hair pins on each side of the hat for added security.

Princess Beatrice, June 5, 2012 in Philip Sommerville | The Royal Hats Blog   Princess Diana, April 10, 1983 | The Royal Hats Blog

Princess Beatrice in a Stephen Jones design worn for the Diamond Jubilee, June 5, 2012;
Princess Diana while on tour of Australia in April 1983

Of course we can’t talk about any of this without touching on the most classic method of all for keeping ones hat in perfect position, the ever traditional hat pin. This method has been used for centuries and it is fool-proof although less than gentle on the hat! Hat pins are generally 8″ to 10″ in length and go first through the hat, then through the ladies hair and back out through the hat and can be elaborate with jewels or feathers, tone on tone like the one seen here on Queen Elizabeth or simple with a pearl tip as seen here on Queen Máxima.

Queen Elizabeth, July 11, 2001 in Philip Somerville | The Royal Hats Blog   Princess Máxima, April 12, 2011 in Fabienne Delvigne | The Royal Hats Blog

Queen Elizabeth in a Philip Somerville design worn at a Buckingham Palace Garden Party, July 11, 2001
Princess Máxima (her title at the time) in Fabienne Delvigne for a visit to Germany, April 12, 2011

Of course there are many other methods used but these are the most popular and in my opinion the most comfortable. Feeling secure in your hat is the most important thing, it should look and feel effortless!

Thank you so much, Jill, for sharing your hat knowledge with us. I now find myself looking at hats analyzing if there is a comb, elastic, a hidden headband or a hat pin! For those of you unfamiliar with Jill’s marvelous hat design work, do check out her website here. 

Photos from Hanne Juul/Image Magazine via BilledBladet; Leon Neal via Getty; SOPHIE; Chris Jackson via Getty; Tim Graham; John Stillwell via Getty; and Andreas Rentz via Zimbio