Britain’s love affair with hats was on wide display at the royal wedding, where family and guests showcased styles ranging from sophisticated and chic to over-the-top and Twitter-worthy – in an unflattering way.
Even though Kate Middleton stuck to bridal tradition and wore a silk tulle veil bordered in French Chantilly lace, those in the bridal industry here in America welcomed the chapeau plug, admiring the Jane Corbett saucer hat on Carole Middleton, the wide-brimmed floral number on Joss Stone and the ladylike cloche hat on Princess Letizia of Spain and dissing the pretzel-like topper worn by Princess Beatrice, a cousin of Prince William (her mother, Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson, was snubbed from the royal invite list).
“I think hats are slowly making a comeback,” says hat designer Lana Chu based in Austin, Texas. “The extra [media] coverage on the royal wedding and segments on hats are allowing Americans to peek into a culture where hats are as necessary as our designer handbags and shoes.”
Chu began her hat design company a year ago, charging to $125 to $800 for her one-of-a-kind, architectural creations, which feature dozens of colors and materials, including silks, feathers and netting.
Some stateside boutiques have already seen an uptick in interest from brides-to-be and have begun carrying more hats – or plan to, including The Bustle bridal boutique in Del Mar, Calif. Unbridaled boutique in Austin, Texas has increased its milliners to include Lana Chu and Erica Koesler Wedding Accessories.
“I decided to carry hats for the obvious nod to vintage styling,” says Kim Isom Gotchall, owner of Unbridaled, who notes that hats pair well with a wide variety of bridal gowns. “Some people equate hats with formality, but we’re trying to offer more wearable looks here. It can dress up a simple dress or complement an ornate one.”
North Hollywood, Calif.-based Erica Koesler has received more phone calls for her bridal hats, which come with blusher veils. Owner Nora Hollinger suggests brides-to-be always try on hats and to consider the shape of their heads, their wedding hairdo and volume of hair since hats can sit differently.
“Some sit forward, some to the side and some on the back so measurements really don’t help,” Hollinger says.
A wide-brimmed hat covered in silk satin with a French net blusher and pillbox hat with a rolled rim and a side décor of flowers are a few of Erica Koesler’s key looks.
“Brides can wear wide-brimmed, pillbox or cocktail hats,” Hollinger says. “Nothing is defined by the royal wedding.”