Feathers, bows, giant flowers and even one bun.
Contrary to popular belief, the tradition of British aristocrats to wear extravagant hats to festive events, such as horse races and weddings, is not so ancient. A hundred years ago, mostly classic hats with wide brims were in use. A lady could decorate such a hat with a lush floral “ikebana” and feathers, but it usually did not go further than that.
By the middle of the twentieth century, pill hats, miniature and brimless, began to come into fashion. In Europe and America, they are often called “cocktail”. Such headdresses were often decorated with embroidery, flowers, feathers and veils. The brighter the cocktail hat was in the 40s, the more fashionable it was. Some experts believe that this is how European women protested against the Nazi occupation and the hardships associated with it.
Guests of the royal wedding in Belgium
Establishment ladies’ hats have become truly unusual and creative since the 80s, when legendary hat designers Philip Tracy and Stephen Jones appeared on the fashion scene. At the same time, facinators began to gain points — catchy, often complexly constructed jewelry that is attached to the hairstyle with hairpins or tied with ribbons. Unlike hats, they have neither brim nor crown.
Although “crazy” hats and facinators are an English invention (British aristocrats have always been the most eccentric), recently this tradition has been adopted in other countries. Fancy headdresses are worn by members of the royal families of Sweden, Belgium and Spain.
Princess Astrid of Belgium at the wedding of Prince Willem Alexander, 2002
The younger sister of the Belgian King Philippe (although in 2002 her brother was “only” the Crown Prince) came to the wedding of the future ruler of the Netherlands Willem-Alexander and an employee of Deutsche Bank in Brussels, Argentinian Maxima Sorregieta (today we all know her as Queen Maxima), in a strange double hat. The exit, of course, did not go unnoticed. On the Internet, people laughed at Astrid: “Did she grab a spare hat for Queen Sofia and didn’t know where to put it?”; “or maybe she just got a second hat in Photoshop?”. These were the mildest comments of the network wags. But personally, we don’t mind: if Astrid had been wearing an ordinary straw hat, would anyone have remembered about it now?
Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands at the wedding of Johan Friso, 2004
The wedding of the Nederland Prince Johan Friso and entrepreneur Mabel Visse-Smith made a lot of noise at the time. Marrying the former mistress of a famous drug dealer cost the groom his claim to the throne. For the sake of the opportunity to marry a woman whose past raised questions from members of parliament, Johan Friso renounced the title “Prince of the Netherlands” and was excluded from the list of heirs to the crown. However, the celebration was remembered not only for this. A photo of the prince’s mother, Queen Beatrix, in an unusual hat, more like a giant wreath woven from the feathers of tropical birds, flew around the news agencies. I must say, Beatrix generally likes this style. Many of her eccentric “feather” hats were created by Dutch Suzanne Mulgin. Last year, the Royal Summer Palace in Apeldoorn hosted an exhibition of one hundred and eleven of the Queen’s most spectacular hats, and this wreath hat was among the exhibits.
Norwegian Princess Marta-Louise at the wedding of Spanish Prince Felipe, 2004
The daughter of Norwegian King Harald V at the wedding of Spanish Prince Felipe and journalist Letizia Ortiz found a way to pay homage to the Spanish royal family, and indeed to the whole of Spain in general. Her dress is bright yellow, and her sculptural straw hat is scarlet. These are the national colors of the flag of Felipe and Letizia.
Camilla Parker-Bowles at her own wedding, 2005
In this extravagant hat made of gilded feathers and Swarovski crystals, resembling an angelic halo, Camilla appeared before the Archbishop of Canterbury: together with Charles, they received a blessing for marriage. This ceremony replaced their wedding, which it was decided to abandon, since both the bride and the groom were divorced. Before that, during the civil part of the ceremony, the bride was wearing a much more “traditional” wide-brimmed white hat decorated with lace and feathers. Both copies for Camilla were created by Philip Tracy, a hatter who is unofficially considered a court designer in Britain.
Laura Parker-Bowles at her mother’s wedding, 2005
Philip Tracy also worked on the headdress of Camilla’s daughter Laura. The complex design was a wide gilded ribbon tied in a bow and surrounded by gilded feathers resembling arrows in shape. The color of the facinator contrasted with Laura’s mint-colored dress and perfectly “rhymed” with gilded pumps.
Trudy Styler at the wedding of Camilla and Charles, 2005
Sting’s wife at the wedding of Charles and Camilla is a real show stealer, a person who attracts all the attention of the public. However, as is usually the case, increased attention is not always synonymous with admiration. So, The Guardian compared the feather decoration on her pillbox hat to “a circle through which hamsters jump in a cage.” The quote remains in the annals of fashion history, but the name of the hat designer, alas, is not.
Kate Middleton at Laura Parker-Bowles’ wedding, 2006
This was the first appearance of the future Duchess of Cambridge at the wedding of a member of the royal family as the official bride of Prince William. In general, for Kate it was almost as exciting an event as for the bride herself, who was preparing to give her hand and heart to Harry Lopez, an aristocrat with a modeling past (he worked for Calvin Klein). For the grand exit, the prince’s girlfriend chose an elegant double-breasted cream coat, and so that the image would not seem boring, she diluted it with an extravagant hat with a large feather decoration. Fashion critics approved.
Princess Beatrice at Peter Phillips’ wedding, 2008
Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson’s daughter Beatrice loves unusual hats. Each of her facinators is a small work of art. This one, in the form of huge multicolored butterflies fastened together, was created for her — it’s easy to guess! – Philip Tracy. As a result, the wedding of Beatrice’s cousin Peter Phillips and Canadian Oton Kelly was also remembered for this unusual exit.
Robert Armani at the wedding of Albert II, 2011
Giorgio Armani’s niece, who is responsible for PR in his fashion house, came to the wedding of Prince Albert and Charlene Whitstock on the arm of her uncle and in an elegant hat resembling a rosebud decorated with black ribbons. Quite in the spirit of the Italian king of minimalism.
Kate Middleton at Zara Phillips’ wedding, 2011
This time Kate was already in the status of a wife and with the title of the Duchess of Cambridge, but the fitted ivory coat from designer Jane Troughton she was wearing was the same as five years ago at the wedding of Laura Parker-Bowles. Journalists approved such a move: they felt that this is how the newly-made wife of Prince William demonstrates a negative attitude to mindless consumption. And since Kate’s hat was new (its author is designer Gina Foster), the image looked completely different than in 2006 (read: From commoners to aristocrats: how Kate Middleton changed in 7 years next to the Queen)
Princess Beatrice at Zara Phillips’ wedding, 2011
This time, the author of the creation that Beatrice decorated her hairstyle with was Angela Kelly, not only a designer, but also since 2002 the personal stylist of Elizabeth II, fully responsible for her wardrobe. She was also the author of the entire princess outfit. As we can see, years of working with the Queen did not turn Kelly into a conservative. At heart, she remains a lover of the avant-garde, besides, not devoid of a sense of humor. Beatrice’s hat was not compared with a satellite antenna this time, except that a lazy one.
Princess Eugenie at Zara Phillips’ wedding, 2011
Sister Beatrice also came to her cousin’s wedding in total look by Angela Kelly. Moreover, the hats of both girls were strangely similar in shape. The associations with satellite communications were, however, not so obvious, thanks to the color – Evgenia’s headdress was made of straw of a restrained ochre color.
Duchess Camilla at Zara Phillips’ wedding, 2011
Duchess Camilla came to the wedding of her husband’s niece with a hairstyle decorated with a facinator, similar to a magnificent wreath woven from flowers and feathers. The author of the creation is still the same Philip Treacy. To many, the image of Camilla seemed excessive. It was all the fault of a massive necklace with a large stone that was around her neck. A more minimalistic decoration would be more in harmony with an extravagant wreath.
Kirsty Gallagher at Zara Phillips’ wedding, 2011
Leading sports TV programs Kirsty Gallagher decided not to leave the aristocrats. For Zara’s wedding, she chose a turquoise straw facinator, twisted into a bizarre curl. It was in perfect harmony with her dress in a small flower from Joseph.
Natalie Pinkham at Zara Phillips’ wedding, 2011
Another TV presenter at the wedding of the Queen’s eldest granddaughter – and another unusual headdress. However, not as extravagant as some, though not without fiction. The Guardian called the image of Natalie (in addition to the hat, she was wearing a fitted red dress from the Beulah brand) “the quintessence of what you need to wear to a royal wedding.”
Princess Beatrice at Prince William’s wedding, 2011
It seems that everyone has seen this photo – even those. who is far from both fashion and news from the life of royal families. A beige pillbox hat with a massive decoration (author – Philip Treacy) made a lot of noise. Beatrice was accused of both a lack of taste and the fact that her overly extravagant headdresses make a mockery of the entire British aristocracy. She also got it for the fact that in all the group shots the hat towered over the head of Elizabeth II, giving the queen a comical look. The hat was compared to both a pretzel bun and a toilet seat. Tracy himself defended his famous client: “Now you are scolding her, and in a few decades you will say that she looked cool!”. The princess herself managed to get out of the situation with dignity: a month later, the hat went for a fabulous sum from an eBay auction, and all the funds were transferred to the UNICEF charity program account.
Princess Eugenie at Prince William’s wedding, 2011
Eugenia’s headdress at the same wedding was also from Philip Tracy and also looked very unusual. However, Beatrice’s hat distracted all the attention of the public, so that Eugenia’s exit went almost unnoticed. Given the flurry of indignation that has descended on my sister, maybe it’s for the best.
Tara Palmer-Tomkinson at Prince William’s wedding, 2011
But the image of socialite and TV presenter Tara Palmer-Tomkinson (now deceased) critics liked. Her hat of incredibly beautiful neon blue color perfectly matched the intricately tailored dress from designer Deborah Milner and shoes from Nicholas Kirkwood. The headdress was created by the same “hero of the day”, the indefatigable Philip Tracy.
Sophie of Wessex at Prince William’s wedding, 2011
The queen’s daughter-in-law came to her nephew’s wedding in a miniature hat decorated with large beige rosebuds from designer Jane Taylor. By the way, Taylor was only heard about for a year at that time (she released her first collection in 2008, and they started talking about her in 2010), but she already had the highest-ranking clients. This exit marked a new “hat” era for Sophie. Before that, she preferred more massive hats.
Miriam Gonzalez at Prince William’s wedding, 2011
A well-known lawyer, the wife of British politician Nick Clegg, who served as deputy prime minister in 2011, came to the royal wedding in a headdress similar to a huge peony. Its color and shape perfectly harmonized with the appearance of the Spaniard Miriam and successfully contrasted with her white dress with black polka dots. If you look closely, you will notice: this is, in fact, not a hat, but a black turban decorated with an artificial flower.
Victoria Beckham at Prince William’s wedding, 2011
Another client of Philip Tracy at the royal wedding. And she also got it from the journalists. Victoria’s outfit, consisting of a black dress of her own brand, black Christian Louboutin shoes and a black headdress, was considered more suitable for a funeral than for a holiday. The effect was compounded by the fact that Victoria looked extremely gloomy all evening and seemed to be defiantly turning away from David. Gossips claimed that there was a serious rift in the couple. Seven years later, all the difficulties in their family have long been forgotten, and the elegant hat from Tracy has remained in the history of fashion. And she’s not gloomy at all!
Princess Maxima at the wedding of Prince Guillaume of Luxembourg, 2012
The wedding of the heir to the Luxembourg throne and the Belgian Countess Stephanie de Lannois was also remembered by the fashion critic for the brilliant exit of the future Queen Maxima, who was still a princess of the Netherlands at that time. Her miniature hat, decorated with long and bright pheasant feathers, perfectly harmonized with the outfit as a whole — a mustard-colored blouse with flounces and a narrow midi skirt. Journalists and bloggers unanimously called Maxim the most stylish august person in the world.
Gela Nash at the wedding of Princess Madeleine of Sweden, 2013
If anyone does not know, then Gela is the co-founder of the famous American brand Juicy Couture. However, at the wedding of the youngest daughter of the Swedish king and American financier John O’Neill, she did not come in bright pink or even shiny, but in an elegant and slightly “gothic” long black outfit. The facinator was a match. However, some people dared to compare this headdress made of black feathers with a children’s hat “with ears”. But let it remain on their conscience.
Princess Tessie at the wedding of Prince Felix of Luxembourg, 2013
The princess (now former) came to the wedding of her husband’s brother and German Claire Lademacher in a spectacular headdress matching the color of the dress. The famously twisted purple spiral resembled the wings of a large dragonfly. Alas, we will not see Tessie at royal weddings anymore — in 2017, she separated from her husband, Prince Louis of Luxembourg.
Princess Stephanie at the wedding of Prince Felix of Luxembourg, 2013
Stephanie of Luxembourg loves the soft blue color, and especially the soft blue hats. In hats of this particular shade, she has been seen more than once. The hat that she wore to her husband’s brother’s wedding can be called, perhaps, the most extravagant in her wardrobe — Stefania does not like risky images so much. Well, in this case, it was clearly worth the risk: the hat suits her.