Looks like hats are slowing working their way back to the runway.
The Spring/Summer 2010 Haute Couture shows got underway earlier this week in Paris and, by the looks of things so far, they could have easily been renamed "Hat Couture."
Jean Paul Gaultier framed his models' faces in feathers (shown above), Mexican sombreros and metallic halos reminiscent of South American icons. (We noticed the blue nail polish, too.)
Karl Lagerfeld, whose muse for Chanel Couture must be equal parts geisha, schoolgirl and American housewife circa late '50s/early '60s, placed sugary sweet bows in each girls' bouffant 'do.
On Aura Tout Vu went to the extreme by building a tiny city around one model's head, held in place by metal rods affixed to her belt.
Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy took the concept of "lid" to a whole new level with a millinery lineup that resembled screw-top caps, cylinders and mid-century lampshades. Some were white, stark and shiny while others were black, textured or featured veils.
Galliano was among the more conservative with equestrian top hats, stovepipes and high hats. The riding crops he placed in the hands of his models, expected in an equestrian theme, nevertheless added a dominatrix spirit.
The bride wore black veils at Franck Sorbier...and forks?! Sure enough, even a handful of forks was sculpted into a chapeau.
Fashion watchers are eagerly watching the couture shows to get a glimpse of the gowns, some of which will make their first public appearance at the Oscars early March. More than likely, hats won't get their turn on the red carpet. Unless you're talking about Lady Gaga or Aretha Franklin at President Obama's Inauguration last year, hats make rare appearances in public. More's the pity.
In the rarefied world of Haute Couture, clothes only a handful of women can actually afford to buy, there is no need for practicality. Hats, headdresses and chapeaus may symbolize rank, achievement, beliefs, sexuality and membership, but to designers, they're all about drama.
Most of these hats will never get made. Their main purpose is to help create an image, a signature of one of the most exclusive clubs in the world (ironically, these same fashion houses make most of their money through the sales of small-ticket items like sunglasses, fragrance and handbags).
Like the peacock that unfurls his fan-like iridescent plumage to lure potential mates, so designers must keep wooing
women in all economic classes. I, for one, will happily watch the spectacle.