At some point or another in their lives, most women have fantasised about being a princess, right? Dreamy gowns turning us into an oversized decoration, a plethora of fine foods to indulge in, swirling across a ballroom floor in front of esteemed guests – a seemingly perfect, carefree life of luxury we’d be fools to reject. Being a modern princess, however, brings with it an entirely new set of trials and tribulations dictated by advancements in technology and society. What has remained the same, though, is the constant, sometimes derogatory scrutiny upon what they wear, with everyone from newspaper columnists to the parents at the school gate giving their verdict. In this media age, the pressure has increased: a single image has the capability to spread across the entire globe in just a few minutes. Thus, the need to impress is great – cue the bigger, more decadent, and strange headwear of recent years.
OUT of FAVOUR
Following the ‘youthquake’ of the 60s, the status of the hat started to dwindle. It was no longer relevant to the rebellious teens making their voices heard – even the Catholic church dropped it from their dress code in 1967! If it were to become a sought-after, mainstream fashion piece once more, a revamp of the traditional styles needed to occur, or else a character relevant to younger generations was required to help shed it of its associations with older women. None could have accomplished this feat as effortlessly and demurely as Princess Diana.
Enlisting the help of now-iconic milliners, John Boyd and Stephen Jones – the former a royal favourite and the latter well-known for his surrealist work inspired by punk – Diana was able to harness the power of the hat perfectly. ‘Hats give me confidence’ - this statement, made by Diana, highlights the esteem in which she held the oft-maligned item of clothing. It subsequently became an intrinsic part of Diana’s wardrobe, instrumental in communicating her beauty, elegance, and soft-natured personality to the public without her having to say more than a few words.
A FLIRTY TWIST
Veiled hats, favoured by Diana, added an air of mystery to the much-adored princess. Beneath the veil, Diana would flash a shy smile and look up from under her lashes, adding a cheeky twist to her elegant look that women were desperate to replicate. Inspired by her example, Diana’s fun, flirty, and experimental take on fashion elevated the hat back into relevancy once more. Not one to be an avid follower of trends, Diana sampled a wide range of hats, perfecting a succession of inimitable looks that represented her as a person. From floppy hats harking back to pre-princess boho chic style, with added sophistication and elegance, to dainty pill box hats, Diana knew what she wanted to convey about herself and succeeded.
Taking fashion diplomacy into her own hands, Diana paid homage to the countries she visited on her many tours, a concept which has influenced the fashion choices of Michelle Obama and Kate Middleton in recent years: Chitrali hats in Pakistan and turbans in Dubai – the Princess celebrated all cultures.
Diana remains a style icon up to this day. Responsible for welcoming the hat back on to the fashion scene and ridding it of its negative connotations, Diana managed to demonstrate the hat’s ability to inspire confidence – something she so heavily relied on during her tenure as a royal.
PRINCESS BEATRICE and THE WORST DRESSED LIST
Everybody remembers the second they saw the iconic fascinator that would dominate the headlines and fashion sites as soon as it emerged from the carriage. Princess Beatrice’s pretzel hat may be one that was regretted in the post-wedding media fug, but it was one that will never be forgotten; a fashion faux pas for the royal archive that garnered both ridicule and praise.
A PENCHANT for the GARISH
This was not the first daring feature of Princess Beatrice’s hat career, however. Loyal to Treacy, Beatrice followed her pretzel number up with a head-turning structured butterfly fascinator in 2008, to the wedding of Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly. The hat balanced on the right side of her head with delicate resting butterflies in hues of red, green, and blue; it was a true work of art.
Beatrice’s penchant for eccentric hats was instilled from a young age, first spotted at Christmas mass services when the royal teen sported bright, oversized, purple toppers, whilst her sister, Eugenie, opted for more pared-down choices.
Paving the way for the show-stopping hats adorning the heads entering the Royal Ascot or the Kentucky Derby, royalty has worked towards revitalising the hat, adding a dimension of fun that has clearly taken off. Now viewed as an artform in itself, the hat has been successfully restored to its former glory.