Life & Culture

Hats off to a spot of nostalgia


It is immaterial whether you are buying a hat for Pesach, for a simchah, for a visit to Ladies Day or even; Lady Sacks, for that wedding, millinery this season is again all about nostalgia. And the prettiest and most alluring are inspired by the 1920s and the late 1950s/early '60s, two eras placed firmly in the fashion spotlight by the hit TV dramas Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men.

For those who don't have Sky Atlantic, which has scooped up both shows, Boardwalk Empire is Martin Scorsese's spectacularly lush and lavish recreation of America's Prohibition era with an endless parade of insouciant women dripping with silk, satin and fur and invariably wearing a fabulous hat. Mad Men, as we know from its days at BBC2, is a spectacularly lush recreation of the late '50s and early '60s which makes the clothing of the period - including its hats - seem irresistibly chic .

But perhaps it's not surprising we look backwards for millinery inspiration since our use for hats, these days, extends mostly to baseball caps for bad-hair-day/bald patch concealment, sunhats, woolly hats and low-key hats worn by regular shul goers.

But Pesach or a spring/summer simchah or formal daytime event provide a perfect excuse to splurge on a gorgeous hat. And in some cases, we do mean splurge: some hats on these pages cost north of £400, which is, we admit, eye-wateringly pricey. But these babies are real attention grabbers, able to transform a simple, ladylike dress or coat into a stunning, look-at-me outfit.

Despite the absence of a hat culture, London nevertheless nurtures a number of wonderful milliners. The Kensington-based designer Gina Foster creates hats which are not only gorgeous to gaze at, but cleverly designed with a built-in, almost invisible, headband, which keeps them firmly on the head. Her spring collection includes a dramatic 1960s saucer hat and a divine 1950s black crin number perfect for Mad Men fans.

Chelsea-based Gabriela Ligenza also takes her inspiration from the past, for a ravishingly pretty collection that includes flower embellishments on hats that work for shul or for The Season. The milliner Nerida Fraiman has a divinely pretty collection which includes fragile, feathery confections perfectly suited to a wedding or a day at Royal Ascot.

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