to thirty-one years ago yesterday and a fabric-wrapped, maroon felt pillbox hat worn on a visit to Cumbria.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
Two royal hats, worn to a grand event. Any guesses as to the royal wearers?
Photo source is unknown.
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
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 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!
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, 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; 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.
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, May 1999; Princess Diana in the USA, 1985; Queen Elizabeth in 1983
Queen Elizabeth in Fox hats in April 1989 and October 2000
Queen Elizabeth in Jamaica, February 2002; in 1981; and at the King’s Cup in 2005
Queen Elizabeth in the ‘marble run hat worn in Italy, Oct 17, 2000; at the June 19, 1999
wedding of the Earl and Countess of Wessex; at the June 1988 Epsom Derby
Princess Diana in Italy, 1985; Princess Michael at Ascot, 1996; Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee June 2002
Photos from Tim Graham via Getty; Vogue; Walters/Rex USA via Vanity Fair; Vogue; Vogue; Tim Graham via Getty; Woman’s Day; Chris Jackson, Tim Graham, Ian Waldie, Tim Graham, via Getty; Tim Graham/AP via People; Tim Graham and Tim Graham via Getty