- Margaret Atwood
The truth is that the hat never really goes away. While it is true that ladies and gentlemen haven't felt compelled to don a chapeau since the 1960s, more and more men and women are choosing to wear a hat. Those who do, understand the power of a well chosen hat. I lived with a milliner during the mid-1980s and remember distinctly a night when she insisted that a group of us select and wear one of her hats before we headed out for an evening at AREA, one of the hottest clubs in New York at the time. We all obliged, and later as we emerged from the yellow taxi, the doorman just pointed at us, and the crowd parted to let us in. Being that none of us were A-listers at the time, it was obvious that our hats were the celebrities being given VIP treatment and we were just an entourage along for the ride, and that was OK with us.
"I can wear a hat or take it off, but either way it's a conversation piece."
- Hedda Hopper
1940s gossip columnist Hedda Hopper was an avid hat collector, who became as well known for her hats as her insider scoops. Jacqueline Kennedy's pill box hat designed by Halston, became a symbol of an era, inspiring women every where to emulate the look. Donned in Givenchy from head to toe, Audrey Hepburn's Holly Golighlty in Breakfast at Tiffany's remains one of the most elegant and stylish characters – not just for her little black dresses, but her remarkable hats. Diane Keaton's love affair with hats that began with her role in the film Annie Hall and continues to be her signature accessory today. On the flip side Princess Beatrice of York has become a cautionary millinery tale, in spite of the fact that she was wearing a Philip Treacy original. And perhaps in time, even the most outlandish headgear will achieve the same tongue-in-cheek charm as Carmen Miranda's headdresses.
"Cock your hat - angles are attitudes."
- Frank Sinatra
Cool has always been a key buzzword when it comes to men's hats. Most men want to capture just a little bit of the edge a hat provided Hollywood's leading men from Humphrey Bogart to Frank Sinatra. Later, Indiana Jones made the fedora a crucial piece of the look and the lore – Indie will risk all to retrieve his trusty fedora. Television's Don Draper of Mad Men, and Neal Caffrey of White Collar are definitely contributing to a new trend of smart stylish hats for men. That's good news for retailer Goorin Brothers, the new go to hat shop for the gentlemanly headgear as well as the experience.
"Wearing hats has become like fine art for me."
- Tina Brown
Many of the biggest fashion success stories – from Chanel to Bill Cunningham – began with careers as milliners. There are also many unsung hat makers who made valuable contributions like Caroline Reboux credited as the inventor of the cloche hat. Then there are the true masters, who elevate hats to an art form. Stephen Jones and Philip Treacy are perhaps the two best-known contemporary milliners. Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones is an exhibit that was introduced at the Victoria and Albert Museum and is currently at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem Massachusetts. The excitement surrounding Jones and the exhibit has also served to focus on local milliner extraordinaire Marie Galvin.
Aretha Franklin, the first lady of soul has been a client of Mr. Song Millinery in Detroit, the hat maker responsible for the hat she wore to President Obama's inauguration in 2009. The hat caused a sensation, most noticeably in churches around the country.
Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry's book Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats captures the importance of a hat in this culture.
"And then, she leaves home and joins the company of her mothers and aunties and sisters and nieces and daughters at church whose actions have been identical to hers that morning. They too had waited longingly for the gift of a Sunday morning."
– Maya Angelou/ Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats
Segments of society have been built in part around expressing oneself through hats. The Red Hat Society is a global organization of women built around their signature red hat that supports and encourages women in their pursuit of fun, friendship, freedom, fulfillment, and fitness. Hats and horses come together at the Kentucky Derby, where not only women push the envelope to express their millinery style.
SAFETY in CLASSICS
"I have a hat. It is graceful and feminine and has a wide brim with a red ribbon around the band. It gives me a certain dignity, as if I were attending a state funeral or something. People are generous in their compliments. Someday I may get up enough courage to wear it, instead of carrying it."
- Irma Bombeck / Women Who Wear Hats Stand Heads Above the Rest
Not everyone is daring enough to pull off statement hats. Timid or not anyone can avail themselves of some classic hats without going too far out on a limb. The ubiquitous baseball cap, the cowboy hat, the fedora, and the fascinator are all easily accessible to those who want to express themselves on a smaller scale.
"If a woman rebels against high heeled shoes, she should take care to do it in a very smart hat."
- George Bernard Shaw