May 29, 2009
Going, going … Hats at the V&A
This weekend is your last chance to catch the very fabulous Hats exhibition at the V&A, which is a collaborative effort between London milliner Stephen Jones and the museum. Jones has scoured the V&A’s extensive archives to showcase not only the changing fashions in headwear over the past 17 centuries, but to throw light on the workmanship, creativity and inspiration that goes into each individual piece.
Challenging my own (rather bad) habit of visiting must-see exhibitions ‘til the final days, I caught Hats back in March, and was enthused by Jones’ clearly passionate curatorial role, which also provided many professional insights.
Personal highlights included Jones’ mod-ish Underground roundel hat for AW08, a horsehair and silk bonnet worn by Queen Victoria, and a 17th century leather jester’s cap adorned with tiny jingle bells (and not a lurid velour version in sight!). I also really loved Hussein Chayalan’s wooden egg helmet (’98), Christian Dior’s plastic cubist pillbox (’66) and Adolfor’s mushroom hat (’65). And then there’s the Norman Hartnell evening hat worn by Margot Fonteyn, and the Cecil Beaton bonnet worn by Audrey Hepburn during the Ascot scene of My Fair Lady.
The centrepiece of the exhibition is a voyeuristic glimpse into the inner sanctuary of a milliner’s studio, which Jones accurately describes as “half-Aladdin’s cave and half-artist’s studio”.
Keep an eye out for some of the choice goodies on offer in the museum shop, like these cloche hat brooches and reasonably-priced paper hats.
Nearest tube: South Kensington
All images courtesy of the V&A Museum.