Ascot: Crimes Against Millinery

     The 2012 Royal Ascot has come to a close and you may have already seen some of the atrocious fashions posted in the news.  You probably don’t know that I am a dedicated hat lover with a vast collection.  I was trained in historical millinery by master theatrical milliner Jane Smith, whose work you’ve seen in some of your favorite films and then interned with up and coming milliner Justin Smith-Esquire.  Last year I got to meet two of my millinery idols when I assisted on a photoshoot for Philip Treacy and ran into Stephen Jones at Dita Von Teese’s Cointreau Privé pop up bar. Although, my nervous rambling was probably enough to scare Stephen, I had to tell him my woes of not being able to see his whole exhibit a couple of years ago, when the V&A museums’ fire alarm went off and they booted us all out…sad face.

      Anyhow, the Royal Ascot is the perfect event for any hat lover, as it is known for its’ grand tradition of hats and being one of the most fashionable occasions of the year.  It seems things have changed in the last years though. Hats should be fun and they can be big, yes big is ok!  The 18th Century is one of my favorite eras and I love the bird cage in the hair look…but I really have to take that back after seeing the lady below. I’ve been known to say “less is not more, more is more”! Again, I will have to retract that statement on this occasion.  You see, I’ve never had issues with experimentation in fashion and some of my fashion icons are the epitome of eccentricity; what I do object to is the gaudy tastelessness of a number of people who have turned the Royal Ascot from a prestigious event associated with the gentry, into a cheap fancy dress party. With celebs from the reality TV show ‘The Only Way is Essex’ in attendance, you might imagine the kind of celeb spotters that may have been present. The Huffington Post referred to Amy Childs as ‘keeping it classy’ at the event, as if it was possible for anyone who appeared on that show to be anything but the antithesis of class.   This year the Ascot felt it needed to offer strict new guidelines on dress and have fashion police at the event, to clear up any “misunderstanding of what constitutes appropriate attire for the formal occasion” and presumably in an attempt to preserve the image of the event.  Well I think you can judge from the pictures how effective this was!

      The first images are of the fantastic campaign the Royal Ascot created for this years event with designs by Stephen Jones and Antonio Beradi.  The campaign pays homage to Dior’s post WWII “New Look” collection and Richard Avedon’s iconic image, ‘Dovima with Elephants’ (1955).  That is the sleek image they were trying to project for the event, sadly the latter pictures show the people who clearly didn’t get the memo.

I’ll be giving my tips on choosing a hat and how to wear them in an upcoming entry.


Royal Ascot

‘Dovima with Elephants’

Dior “New Look”

Stephen Jones

Philip Treacy

J Smith Esquire


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