Wrapping Up Imperial Royal Tour

In the midst of a busy schedule of royal events over the past two weeks, I completely forgot to wrap up the Imperial visit to Thailand. My apologies!

On Sunday, March 5, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko arrived in Thailand (see their departure from Vietnam earlier that day at this post). The Empress disembarked the flight in a new grey saucer hat with flat bow across the front, trimmed with a dotted black net tulle veil. The addition of the net veil is a trimming departure for the empress, one that gives a bit of textural contrast to the hat.

Empress Michiko, Mar 5, 2017 | Royal Hats

Empress Michiko, Mar 5, 2017 | Royal Hats  Empress Michiko, Mar 5, 2017 | Royal Hats

After a quick 24-hour visit, the Imperial couple departed on Monday, March 6 to return home. For their departure, Empress Michiko wore her ninth new hat of the tour. The pale grey rimmed saucer hat is trimmed with a double looped half bow in the same darker grey silk as her dress. This design is not a departure from anything else we’ve seen on the Empress, although the balance between the saucer brim and the side bow is particularly pretty in this piece.

Empress Michiko, Mar 6, 2017 | Royal Hats

The royal couple arrived home on the evening of Monday, March 6. The Empress disembarked the Japan airways jet in a repeated saucer hat in the same tiny black and white check as her coat, trimmed with a large curved bow.

Empress Michiko, Mar 6, 2017 | Royal Hats

Empress Michiko, Mar 6, 2017 | Royal Hats  Empress Michiko, Mar 6, 2017 | Royal Hats

Empress Michiko, Mar 6, 2017 | Royal Hats

Designer: Designer: unknown
Previously Worn:March 18, 2016January 19, 2015

Most of the extended Imperial royal family greeted the Emperor and Empress at the airport. Crown Princess Masako wore a new black (or navy?) hat with upfolded velvet brim, edged in braid trim. Some of you may recall that she wore a green version of this same for the Emperor and Empress’ departure.

 Crown Princess Masako, Mar 6, 2017 | Royal Hats

Crown Princess Masako, Mar 6, 2017 | Royal Hats

Princess Kiko,  Princess Kako both wore variations on bowler hats while Princess Mako repeated a navy cloche with upturned, short trim trimmed with a bow on the side. 

Imperial Royal Family, Mar 6, 2017 | Royal Hats

Imperial Royal Family, Mar 6, 2017 | Royal Hats

Princess Hanako repeated a white cloche variation with short mushroom brim and wide grey ruched hatband. Princess Nobuko looked to be wearing a large navy saucer hat (worn at a wonderfully jaunty angle) while her daughters Princess Akiko wore a grey trilby with navy hatband and Princess Yoko sported a white design with short brim and tall crown. Princess Tsuguko of Takamado looked to be wearing her navy indented pillbox with back bow and Princess Ayako topped her camel coat with a matching hat that appears to be trimmed in a Lady Amherst pheasant feather.

Imperial Royal Family, Mar 6, 2017 | Royal Hats

Several of you have commented about the tradition for extended Imperial family members to greet the Emperor and Empress at their departure and arrivals home- it is a lovely tradition and one that allows us to see lots of hats! Which designs here stand out most to you?

The Imperial Household Agency announced last week that the gruelling pace of this tour caused sickness for the Empress, who has now suspended engagements in order to recover. We wish her the very best in her return to health.

Imperial Royals Set Off For Vietnam

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko departed Japan yesterday en route to Vietnam where they will take part in a six-day visit. The royal couple were seen off at the airport for this historic visit (Akihito is the first emperor to visit Vietnam) by members of their extended family. Empress Michiko looked very smart in her repeated black saucer hat trimmed in origami folded bow, backed in the same black and white hound’s tooth check as her skirt.

Empress Michiko, Feb 28, 2017 | Royal Hats

Designer: Likely Akio Hirata
Previously Worn: Mar 16, 2015

Crown Princess Masako topped her emerald coat with a matching hat in velvet felt. The flat crown and upturned brim shape of this hat is one we’ve seen on Masako before but in a saturated colour and with the addition of braid around the brim edge, the familiar shape is transformed into something special.

  

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: this hat is new

Princess Kiko wore a cloche variation in camel felt with diagonally upturned brim. The brim shape is an unexpectedly pert departure for Kiko that works well for her.

Princess Kiko and Princess Masako, Feb 28, 2017 | Royal Hats

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: this hat is new

Princess Mako and Princess Kako both sported bowler variations with rolled brims and squared crowns in chocolate brown felt. This side-by-side view of these two very similar pieces shows the significant difference that subtle changes in crown height or tightness of brim roll can make to the overall look of a hat.

Designer: unknown
Princess Mako’s hat was worn Jan 30, 2016 and Nov 29, 2013
Princess Kako’s hat was worn Jan 30, 2016. I believe it was also worn by her mother, Princess Kiko on Nov 29, 2013 

Princess Nobuko and Princess Hanako both sported navy and white hats (far left, below). Princess Nobuko’s winter white felt ddesign (a fedora variation maybe?) featured an upturned brim and navy hatband while Princess Hanako’s hat contrasted a cream brim against a navy crown. Both hats are sharp, stylish pieces that I wish we could see up close.

Princess Nobuko and Princess Hanako, Feb 28, 2017 | Royal Hats

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: I believe both hats are new

Princess Akiko repeated her winter white cloche hat with an upturned cuff brim while her sister, Princess Yoko topped her yellow coat with a matching bowler variation with yellow squared crown and rolled ivory brim. Princess Tsuguko of Takamado wore what looks like an ecru bumper hat with large bow trim at the side.

Princess Tsuguko, Princess Yoko and Princess Akiko, Feb 28, 2017 | Royal Hats

Princess Tsuguko, Princess Yoko and Princess Akiko, Feb 28, 2017 | Royal Hats

Designer: all are unknown 
Previously Worn: Princess Akiko’s hat was worn Jan 26, 2016. I believe Princess Yoko and Princes Tsuguko’s hats are new. 

When the royal couple touched down in Hanoi, Empress Michiko embarked in a mushroom grey hued suit with coordinating hat. One of her larger saucer shapes, the hat is simply trimmed with a curling ribbon in the same two shades of grey as her silk suit. It’s a simple hat but one that works really well with this ensemble.

   

Designer: Likely Akio Hirata
Previously Worn: I believe this hat is new
There are some nice surprises in this group of hats- which designs stand out to you?
Photos from Getty as indicated; Shizou Kambayashi via Associated Press; Kazuhiro Nogi via Getty; REUTERS/Issei Kato

Imperial Royals Attend New Years Poetry Reading

The annual ceremony of New Year’s Poetry Reading (Utakai Hajime) was held at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Friday. As per tradition, the Japanese royal ladies attended this event in court dress, just as they did for the annual New Years lectures last week. As host of the event, Empress Michiko was again not required to wear a hat.

Imperial Royal Family, Jan 13, 2017 | Royal Hats

Princess Kiko repeated her pale lime pillbox hat with lattice woven detail to match the bodice of her gown. The lattice looks to give some much needed texture to the hat and ties the ensemble together, beautifully.

Princess Kiko, Jan 13, 2017 | Royal Hats

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: Dec 23, 2013Dec 23, 2006

Princess Mako topped her gown with a bumper brimmed calot hat. While both pieces are impeccably cut, the head to hem use of the same printed blush pink silk makes the ensemble rather bland.

Princess Mako, Jan 13, 2017 | Royal Hats   Princess Mako, Jan 13, 2017 | Royal Hats

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: Dec 23, 2015

We can usually count on Princess Hanako to spice things up in the Imperial fashion stakes and she certainly delivered! Her rose silk hat featured a pork pie style crown around which was set a moulded brim. While the shape was interesting on its own, the hat was trimmed with feathers at the back and a half overlay of the same lace used on her gown. The half overlay is a wonderfully interesting design detail- not only does it make use of the lace’s beautifully scalloped border, it gives some textural contrast to the hat, saving the ensemble from head-to-toe lace overkill. This hat keeps drawing me in for a closer look, something that rarely happens with Imperial royal hats and that makes me love this piece all the more.

Princess Hanako, Jan 13, 2017 | Royal Hats

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: I believe this hat is new

What do you think of this trio of Imperial royal hats?

Photo from The Asahi Shimbun via Getty, NHK and Sankei

Imperial New Years Lectures 2017

Members of the Imperial Family gathered yesterday at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo to take part in the Kousho Hajime (Imperial New Year’s Lectures).

Imperial Royal Family, Jan 11, 2017 | Royal Hats

Held annually since 1869, the Court Dress code for this event sees all the ladies in gowns and hats except for Empress Michiko, who forgoes a hat as she is officially hosting the event in her home. Princess Kiko repeated the blue grey calot she wore to the lectures last year.

Princess Kiko, Jan 11, 2017 | Royal Hats

Princess Mako repeated a turquoise pillbox with bumper-style raised sides she first wore for her grandfather’s 80th birthday three years ago.

Princess Mako, Jan 11, 2017 | Royal Hats

Princess Hanako of Hitachi repeated the vibrant blue leopard printed silk gown and matching bumper hat with feather trim that she wore for the New Year’s Poetry reading last year.  While the detail on this hat is not visible on this photo, jump over to this post for a better view taken during its first outing.

Princess Hanako, Jan 11, 2017 | Royal Hats

Photos from The Asahi Shimbun, The Asahi Shimbun, The Asahi Shimbun, and The Asahi Shimbun

Japanese Royals in Italy

Prince Fumihito and Princess Kiko visited Italy earlier this month. While their program included visits to the Vatican and Bologna, some of their time in Rome was not covered by the mainstream media and we missed a new hat worn by Princess Kiko on May 11 (thanks to reader Angela for finding this!). In natural textured straw, this design features a rounded crown and cartwheel brim and is trimmed in a wide hatband in the same navy silk stripe as Kiko’s dress. The scale of the piece is much larger than she usually wears and the overall ensemble is a far more bold and graphic one than we have seen on her in a very, very long time. It’s not the best hat or dress she has ever worn, but it is a departure and that’s worth something in the world of Imperial Royal fashion.

Princess Kiko, May 11, 2016 | Royal Hats

Thanks again, Angela, for passing this along. What do you all think of this uncharacteristically graphic hat on Princess Kiko?

Photo from EPA/Angelo Carconi via Alamy

Imperial Royals At Spring Garden Party

Members of the Imperial Royal Family attended an annual spring garden party hosted by the Emperor and Empress yesterday at the Akasaka Imperial Garden.

Imperial Royal Family, April 27, 2016 | Royal Hats

Empress Michiko led her family in an elegant white wool suit topped with her large white saucer hat with pink petal trim. Within the realm of the empress’ style, it was a lovely hat for this event.

 Empress Michiko, April 27, 2016 | Royal Hats

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: April 24, 2014December 2, 2013

Crown Princess Masako was also in white, pairing her suit with a squared bowler hat with short, upturned brim. If you look closely, you will see that the band around the crown of this piece is anchored by very slim braided trim which brings some much needed texture to it.

Crown Princess Masako, April 27, 2016 | Royal Hats

Designer: unknown
Previously Worn: November 5, 2014

From a distance, Princess Kiko’s pale green hat looked to be a silk covered pillbox but closeup, it revealed itself to be a bumper hat with flat, upfolded cuff brim. Her daughter, Princess Mako, wore a square-crowned pink hat with short rolled brim.The shape of this piece looks like a cross between a bowler hat and a top hat… a hybrid that I’m not keen on.

Princess Mako, April 27, 2016 | Royal Hats   Princess Mako and Princess Kiko, April 27, 2016 | Royal Hats

Princess Mako, April 27, 2016 | Royal Hats

Designers: unknown
Previously Worn: Princess Mako’s hat is new. Princess Kiko’s hat was worn April 26, 2007
Princess Hanako of Hitachi, seen below on the left repeated her smart ecru hat with square crown and linear, upturned brim.
Imperial Royal Family, April 27, 2016 | Royal Hats
Princess Nobuko of Mikasa topped her pale aqua suit with a whimsical hat wrapped in a swath of coordinating tulle that leaves one thinking of cotton candy. Princess Princess Akiko’s rounded crown white hat featured what looks like a moulded sash and brim combination in the same pale celery as her suit. Princess Yoko wore a pink hat in the same square crowned shape as the one worn by Princess Mako. A wide ruched silk sash wrapped around the crown, ending in a flat bow on the side.
Princess Akiko and Princess Nobuko, April 27, 2016 | Royal Hats       MIkasa Princesses, April 27, 2016 | Royal Hats
Princess Hisako of Takamado wore an suit and matching hat, both from the same ecru patterned silk. The hat featured a low, flat crown and short, U-shaped curled brim- a shape which, unfortunately, looks like a squashed top hat.
Princess Hisako, April 27, 2016 | Royal Hats
The most dramatic millinery shapes of the day were worn by the younger Takamado Princesses. Princess Tsuguko topped her navy and black printed dress and jacket with a wide brimmed black picture hat trimmed in what looks to be a wide bleu sash (or long navy feathers?) wrapped around the flat sided crown. Princess Ayako topped her pale lilac ensemble with a matching saucer hat, placed at the most rakish angle we’ve seen among the Imperial royals in a long time. Both ensembles showed more personality than we’ve seen in a long time on Imperial Royals, something that fills me with glee!
 Princess Tsuguko and Princess Ayako, April 27, 2016 | Royal Hats  Princess Tsuguko and Princess Ayako, April 27, 2016 | Royal Hats
It is always fun to see such large scale royal hatted events such as this one, even if the hats are not exciting. The last two certainly piqued my curiosity (oh how I wish we could see them better) which is not something I often can say about Imperial millinery. What do you think of this parade of Japanese royal hats? Are any of them worthy for your nomination of favourite hat worn this month?
Photos from Getty as indicated; The Asahi ShimbunThe Asahi Shimbun, The Asahi Shimbun via Getty; and Sankei

Catching Up With The Imperial Royals

There are a number of hats worn this month by members of the Imperial Royal Family that we must catch up on:

April 2: The Imperial couple visited Nara to take part a memorial service commemorating the 2600th anniversary of the death of Emperor Jimmu (the first emperor of Japan). On the first day of their visit, which took them to the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara, Empress Michiko wore a new ensemble in a cool slate blue. Her saucer hat, a larger scale than we often see on her, was simply trimmed with silk flowers and leaves. It’s a great piece on her that worked well with her suit (love the lattice smocking detail!).

Empress Michiko, April 2, 2016 | Royal Hats

Designer: unknown. Likely house of Akio Hirata
Previously Worn: I believe this hat is new

April 3: Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko, Prince Fumihito and Princess Kiko visited the mausoleum of Emperor Jimmu. Empress Michiko repeated her small, stacked grey saucer hat with slim stripe around the outside of the hat and flat bow trim. Princess Kiko wore a large black bumper hat without embellishment.

Empress Michiko and Princess Kiko, April 3, 2016 | Royal Hats

Empress Michiko and Princess Kiko, April 3, 2016 | Royal Hats

Designer of Empress Michiko’s hat: Akio Hirata
Previously Worn: April 16, 2015November 20, 2013; August 15, 2011;  August 15, 2009; June 22, 2009; August 15, 2008August 15, 2007; August 15, 2006; August 15, 2005; August 15, 2004March 17, 2004; August 15, 2003; August 15, 2002August 15, 2001August 15, 1995
Designer of Princess Kiko’s hat: unknown
Previously Worn: November 12, 2012 

For their visit to the Kashihara Jingu Shrine later that day, Empress Michiko changed into a white suit topped with a white silk covered disk hat. We have seen this piece before on her- I like the wide, swathy white silk bow trim (Michiko’s hat trims are usually smaller) and the touch of grey silk on the bow ties the hat beautifully to her jacket.

Empress Michiko, April 3, 2016 | Royal Hats

Designer: unknown. Likely house of Akio Hirata
Previously Worn: February 20, 2016; March 13, 2015

April 4: On the final day of their visit to Nara Prefecture, the Imperial couple visited Takamatsuzuka Tomb and museum in Asuka Village. Empress Michiko repeated her dove grey rimmed saucer hat with folded bow trim for this engagement.

Empress Michiko, April 4, 2016 | Royal Hats

Designer: unknown. Likely house of Akio Hirata
Previously Worn: November 17, 2015

April 12: Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko  visited the Mausoleums of Emperor Showa and Empress Kojun. For this, she wore a new hat in slate blue-grey. The saucer design featured a short rim around the perimeter (it looks like the outside of the hat is white) and a stacked, folded bow encircling one side of the piece. Changes in the Empress’ millinery are subtle at the best of times but this is certainly a departure from the go-to shapes we usually see her wear.

Empress Michiko, April 12, 2016 | Royal Hats

April 20: And finally, Princess Kiko of Akishino, who is president of the President of the Imperial Gift Foundation Boshi-Aiiku-Kai, attended the foundation’s 48th National Convention in Tokyo. Made of the same monochrome striped silk as her ice blue suit, Kiko’s bumper hat was trimmed with what looks to be a small bunch of silk flowers on the side. What stands out to me here is how the brim has been covered on the fabric’s bias, creating a diagonal stripe. It’s another very subtle but rather lovely touch.

Princess Kiko, April 20, 2016 | Royal Hats

Princess Kiko, April 20, 2016 | Royal Hats

These aren’t the most exciting hats (and believe me, the sea of grey pieces in the Empress’ wardrobe is getting harder and harder to tell apart) but there are some design details, particularly on the first hat and last two hats, that are really lovely. Any thoughts on this bunch of very neutral Imperial hats?

Photos from Sankei; The Asahi Shimbun, The Asahi ShimbunThe Asahi Shimbun via Getty; Sankei; Sankei; and FNN News