Friday, May 13, 2011

"The Hat" That Ate The Royal Wedding

Isabella Blow wore Phillip Treacy to death. Literally. This was a woman who treated fashion with respect, and yet, nothing wore her. She wore it. She wore Phillip Treacy hats with apblomb, and largely helped to establish him as a fixture in the fashion/hat firmament. It's said that Phillip Treacy designed more than 36 hats for guests at the Royal Wedding. The statements that his designs made reverberate in the fashion world even as they are seen on runways and on the heads of over-the-top celebrities.
This time, for the marriage of Kate Middleton and Prince William, Phillip Treacy outdid himself. This time, it wasn't just the world of glossy magazine layouts that sat up and took notice. This time, because of an interesting twist on a bow on the head of Princess Beatrice, , the entire world took notice.
The headpiece in question, done as an artistic and very creative interpretaion of a bow, was created in the palest of nudes, to accessorize the Princess' very chic Valentino ensemble.
"The Hat" sat forward on the forehead, much like the "dolls' hats" first designed by Elsa Schapiarelli in the 1930's . The cap was trimmed with what some have called "antlers". Treacy is no stranger to antler shapes as headgear: his collaboration with Alexander McQueen, for McQueen's 2006 collection demonstrated this. This was not an antler.
The trim of Princess Beatrice's hat was a monochromatic extension of the cap, largely resembling a bow, the knot of the bow, and the ends of the ribbon looping around and up . Treacy's vision was glorious from a milliner's point of view. How the molded bow was made is his secret, as are all of Treacy's methods. They appear as constructions molded and suspended in air. From his first collection, from his senior graduating project for the Royal College of Art, Treacy has learned how to defy gravity .
Bob Mackie once described a gown he made for Jayne Mansfield as a "hydraulic suspension bridge". Phillip Treacy designs create the same sense of awe and admiration from those of us who design hats.
Consternation, on the other hand, is what most of the world expressed when they saw "The Hat" . "The Hat" has been a hot subject of discussion since Beatrice stepped out of her limousine at the gates of Westminster Abbey
Reaching at least a foot above the Princess' height, "the Hat" cause an instant reaction in the worldwide press. "Overshadowing" most of the day, for some "out of place" for others. "The Hat"gave the public something to fixate upon. Here in the States, Joan Rivers called it an IUD. Some called it " a pretzel. "The Hat" gained an immediate following on Facebook, with thousands of commentaries decrying its originality and assertiveness.
For me, this bit of joyous exhuberance harkened back to the days when Isabella Blow was seen everywhere in her Phillip Treacy hats. Her spirit lives long after her death because of the phantasmgorical headpieces Treacy has produced through the years. Never one to demur to a regime of quiet reserve in her dress, Issy gave us Treacy by day, Treacy by night . Even the tribute that sat upon her coffin was her favorite Treacy hat. Isabella Blow was on all fronts, an innovator. Had she been at the Royal Wedding she most certainly would have applauded the little bow that sat upon Princess Beatrice's head. Certainly not screaming in color, "The Hat" represents the fashion forward direction that Great Britain had always taken. Traditionally, the Brits are a hat loving folk. May they be eccentric to our eyes? May they be silly by our standatds? to some, Great Britain resounds of colonial retribution since for centuries Britannia ruled the waves and it attributes. America was indeed one of those attributes, a colony of misfits that sought refuge on the shores of an exciting new continent.
Well, the excitement has diminished and the conservative fashion scene in the US now rules our shores. So thank God for the excitement generated by anything that Philip Treacy, Vivienne Westwood, or a host of other designers show us with their stimulating collections.
"The Hat " may cause strife in the minds of the more fashion conservative . Indeed it may cause consternation. But the primary rule of the fashion industry is to put something out there that will make people sit up and take notice.
Princess Beatrice has put her Treacy up for auction, to benefit UNICEF. Perhaps that was always the plan, to attract enough attention so that the buzz would reverberate around the world, and help to drive the feeding frenzy. This would be ingenious marketing at it's best. It worked with the ubiquitous floppy brimmed hat worn by Jennifer Lopez many moons ago, and it worked for the girls of Sex in The City. And now the worldwide press is watching every breath "The Hat" takes. Tracking "The Hat" has become a pasttime for some, an income for others.
"The Hat" lives on, but more importantly, the millinery industry may have finally gotten it's golden shot in the arm. You probably won't see "The Hat" walking down Main Street , but it might yet be caught on the High Street. The avant-garde of the fashion world may not feel as negatively as the middle class does. But fashion needs the middle class: they're our shopping public.
No, the ordinary woman may not pick up a over-the-top fascinator to wear to the country club, or to Coney Island. But hat have now captured their share of the popular cultural spotlight. The Headwear industry may now be perhaps experiencing it's long awaited Renaissance. No longer the forgotten child of the accessory world. Hats are finally out of the closet, and are yet on the tip of everyone' s tongue when they talk of the Royal Wedding.
"The Hat" will live on, in the closet of it's next owner. But it's myth will spark a renewed interest in headwear, and forever be a touchstone in fashion history. Hopefully "The Hat" will be won at auction by a museum, where it can be both admired and critiqued for centuries to come.
After all, fashion is, indeed, subjective. and it all started with a bow.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Alex McCord Does Wendy Williams

Alex Mc Cord, or may I say, the charming and lovely Alex McCord came to our showroom this week. Because I'm used to dealing with last minute crazed editors and stylists, I was amazed at the fact that she had prepped this visitation with a DM, and an email, to set the time up.
Here's the gig: an appearance on The Wendy Williams Show for The Royal Wedding post-ceremony commentary on Friday. With Simon . And, of course, clothes-conscious folk that they both are, they prepared ahead of time.
Let me say that again. Ahead of time. For those of you who read me, and/or who are used to the spontaneity of the fab fashion world (I'm being understated here), veeery (sic) little is prepared ahead of time. Oh, sure, Nicoletta Santoro, the saint of prep, or Karl Templer, another one who always calls me in early for their shoots....but normally? The shoot is tomorrow. The television show is in an hour. The photog wants hats. The star wants hats. The producer wants hats. Kill me, I'm not exaggerating. Life is a whirlwind .

So, Alex knows what she'd like to wear, and is hoping we have something in her colorway. Since I'm an avid fan of the show RHONY, and especially of herself and her dapper hub, I know her look. Besides, we've done a shoot together vicariously through my hats. And she's walked in Malan Breton's fashion shows, for which I've had the great pleasure to do hats. So I felt confident in what I'd like to put on her mane of blonde-ness.
But NOTHING prepared me! when they came to this humble, if flavorful establishment,they fill the room with their overall carriage, and personalities. They're incredibly well-paired, as if via central casting. Simon is in an impeccably casual seersucker jacket, which matches the monochromatic golden bronze tones of Alex's heels-but-still-casual ensemble. Blow me away for being a fan, but let me tell you! And I've done some superstars. Jack Nickolson once pinched my butt!
Let's get down to business: the piece I had chosen for her works perfectly. In an instant, I had her hair in a semi-lift, with softness around her chiseled features, and voila! Simon approves. but more importantly, I like it on her, and she likes it , too. Especially for her dress . Oh, la. Can life always be this easy, please? Champagne, and peaches. Love.

Watch for clips of The Wendy Williams Show on her site, unless Simon gets a hold of them first and shares.

Hat's Over!

Or, to those of you who aren't into hats: The subject of hats is just : too much , too many. For lovers, creators, and wearers of hats, it's the old sign from the LoneStar in NYC: "Too Much is Never Enough". We're drooling, we're in hat heaven. We're over the top with glee and childish excitement. Much like a love-starved guy on an internet sex site, hat fans are finally having their day in the sun.
We all have our favorites, and not-so faves, of the Hats at The Royal Wedding. Let me point out which ones Ellen Christine loved, and to underline just why.
It's page after page of hats, hats, and more hats. How to choose the pick of the litter: knock off the boring, conventional, the blase. Are you getting my drift?
Nude reigned, with washes of color a close second, in the choice of ensemble, as well as headgear for the day. Navy substitutes black in many instances, but the occasional black hat snuck into the Abbey. Phantasmagorical, oh, yes indeed. Phillip Treacy? Not to be overlooked as the Head of State in the Hat World , and seen on at least 36 heads , according to the quotes online.

We loved Lady Sophie of Wessex in her Jane Taylor nude "headband". The sweep of straw base, wrapped around a headband base, was particularly well balanced by the trim of flower and feather. Loved the monochromatic tone on tone of her ensemble. So understated, and chic.

Lady Sophie Windsor, in her navy blue, off-kilter Treacy, led the way for the larger proportioned hats of the day. Her chignon finished her look perfectly, and brought Dior, in his "New Look" phase to mind . Yes it's got it's bow, in a space-age sort of way. Yes it's a large brim, in a modern take: balanced, in an unbalanced way.

The ashes of roses worn by Princess Letizia of Spain plays a safe game. this is the hat that most women will understand. It's a simple shape , in natural straw, with again, monochromatic tones. An Edwardian color, this pink, and it's echoed in her hat. Pretty, inoffensive, and practical: she won't be bumping her hat into the Archbishop's face! And you can see over her hat, if you've been seated behind her.

Ah, Mrs. Becks: Victoria Beckham resplendant in her pregnancy. She is wearing one of her lable's trapeeze dresses, clean lines, a hair sexy. Her glow is not in her smile, it's in her hat: Phillip Treacy. They say they worked on this hat until the second beforehand. And it's such a simple little pillbox, with a jaunty trim. Masterful.

We now come to our favorite hat of the day. Yes I said favorite: Princess Beatrice. Her stylized bow has caused incendiary remarks worldwide, but hey, it works! The color, again, the nude, soft tone, and after all ,it's just a simple bow. Read my separate article about this hat all it's significance to some of us. Bea's classic heels and oh-so-elegant Valentino balances the whimsical hat that Mr. Treacy made for her.

The Earl Spencer's Kitty worked the nude vibe as well. Her fascinator, as well as her sisters' choices, very age- appropriate, but punchy enough to stand out in a crowd of benign headgear in this category. The fascinator is a piece for women who can't yet handle a large brimmed knock- the -ball- out- of -the -ball -park kind of hat. The fascinator will help a whole generation come to love and learn the hat lore ahead of them (all puns intended).

The blue you have to love. Not just because it's Malan Breton's color, (we love Malan), but the uplift color, in the USA, is always seen at a wedding. This ensemble, on Tara Palmer-Thomkinson is topped with another mind-boggling Treacy creation. Yes, it has a name, according to the bible by Joan Rivers. But we won't go there. Again, a "cocktail hat", perched, like the hats of the WWII fashions. The vertical lines work with Ms. Palmer-Thomkinson's proportions, and don't turn her into an exclamation point.

Zara Phillips had on one of Treacy's most seen stylistic hats: the wide-brimmed, flower -tucked-under-the-ear idea. Spanish in origin, worn by centuries of Sevillanas, this style has been transformed by M. Treacy into haute couture. Indeed , we have seen a version on the runway. Ms. Phillips hat color choice is black, but with the airiness of the straw that was used, it doesn't read dense.

Jacqui Ainsley is wearing the "little " hat, that does compromise between the fascinator and the brimmed hat. Poised just to the front of the forehead, with the trim at the rear, this hat would work on any age , any coloring, any hairdo.

Princess Maxima of The Netherlands has been overlooked in the fashion press, with no nod to her perfectly draped calot. Her hat is an echo of hats favored by Princess Grace of Monaco, and millions of fashionable women in the 1950's. Another version of this would be the Juliet cap, oft favored by our brides here at Ellen Christine. Draping is an art taught along side construction and drafting in design school, but needs to be executed by a very skillful hand. Madame Gres is a name most known when draping is the subject matter, but Charles James loved it in his gowns, too.

Finally, The Duchess of Kent, chose palest pink, and on a woman of her advanced style, it might not work. But just look at her: resplendant in her (again!) monochrome. This Milady hasn't lost her stylish edge, and wore a small cocktail hat, with perfectly balanced trim.

There you have it. Now can we go on to other subject matter, please??????
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