Mad as a Hatter

Last week’s Royal Wedding came and went in a flurry of vivid Anglomania and Disneyesque fairy tale romance. I can’t say I was completely immune, though the majority of the spectacle was hardly to my particular taste. If nothing else, cultural curiosity took over, inviting an anthropological examination of the entire phenomenon. You know the fact that Catherine Middleton was wearing McQueen tugged at my heartstrings a bit, though in some ways I can hardly imagine a designer less likely to kowtow to Royal Tradition than Lee McQueen – but then again, his vision of modern, wild fairy tale romance is the cornerstone of current English fashion. Of course, this was Sarah Burton, not Lee McQ, and she smoothly and triumphantly fulfilled her duty with a stunning and demure Princess Grace-inspired gown made of ivory and white satin gazar with hand-cut English and French Chantilly lace. McQueen’s legacy lived on in the expert corsetry that Burton employed in her masterpiece.

But what really made the event worth watching were the hats. Sky high, over-the-top, asymmetrical and festooned with flowers, ribbons and feathers, these oddities were a testament to English imagination at their best and a humorously powerful affront to good taste at their worst. Nobody does millinery like the Brits, and this wedding proved that axiom once and for all. The lion’s share of the credit for this fact goes, of course, to Philip Treacy, whose outlandishly experimental concoctions perched atop the head of many a royal family member and socialite, as sketched below.


Princess Eugenie, Kitty Spencer, Zara Phillips


Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, Sophie Winkleman


Victoria Beckham, Arabella Musgrove, Princess Beatrice


Claudia Bradby, Princess Letizia of Spain

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