It’s been a pretty crazy week here in the U.S. And my life feels torn between political issues and millinery, which is largely focused just on being beautiful.
I wondered whether there were any examples of modern millinery making political statements, and I haven’t found much. (I emphatically exclude ball caps any other hats with printed messages. That is text making the statement, not the hat itself.)
Gladys Tamez Millinery made this bold hat for Lady Gaga, but the word, not the hat, makes the statement.
Hats and politics have a long and fascinating history. Certain hat shapes were utilitarian and by default reinforced class hierarchies. Other hat styles were a rebellion against previous modes of dress. Cockades were worn on hats to indicate allegiance to certain parties or causes. (I use cockades on my own hats, but entirely apolitically. They’re just for decoration.) One of the first major conservation movements was focused on saving birds from being killed for millinery. (Feathers from birds such as pheasants are still allowed to be used, and many milliners take care to source cruelty-free feathers.)
Valerie of “Idiosyncratic Fashionistas” shares some more history of millinery and politics in this delightful post.
And what’s happening currently with millinery? Hat Day for Mental Health Research and The Little Hat Project in Australia, and Hats on for Awareness in Canada raise awareness and money for mental health issues.
Other than that, there aren’t a huge amount of statements being made with millinery today. Millinery lives at the intersection of fashion and art, with most hat-makers falling on the fashion side of the line. This isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes it’s good to have a thing that is decorative, that exists just to put something pretty into the world.
But if you like some art with your headwear in the U.S., I recommend keeping your eye on Anya Caliendo. Although her pieces are not overtly political, she is continually making statements with her work.
And let’s face it: When you wear a real hat (not a baseball cap or a winter knit beanie), you are making a statement! You are saying “I’m my own person. I wear what I like, not what’s expected. I’m not afraid of people looking at me. I’m confident.”