Fashion: The Vintage and the Modern Topper

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“The Untouchables” was the one movie that influenced me in a way that no other movie has. This was the flick that changed the way I dressed.

The Fedora. Andy Garcia, Kevin Costner and Robert De Niro all donned a blocked felt that had been sized and sewn. In other words, a hat molded on a wooden mold with a hardening agent to give it shape, cut and then sewn.

It influenced me so much that for Halloween, I got a cheap fedora and a vest and went trick or treating with a friend. At one door, I thought it would be a great idea to pull out an old-fashioned cap gun and ask, “Know a man named Malone?” The woman thought I was holding her up and asked quite calmly if it was a real gun.

My friend covered her face in absolute embarrassment. That followed by the accusation of “aren’t you a little old to be trick or treating?”, we called it a night and went home.

But the hats never left me.

When I met Amy, a worldly woman who wandered the fabulous nooks and crannies of Mexico City, she introduced me to vintage women’s hats. I already had a built up a collection of men’s wear including cowboy hats, a fedora, a bowler and a Cordobes but I had never wanted to buy used hats because it always seemed a little uncouth to me. Seeing the phenomenal pieces that could be had, however, I changed my tune at the drop of a proverbial hat. We were on a mission to find fabulous head-gear. Street vendors, markets, fancy antique shops. We hit them all. And my opinion of the topper is one of respect and reverence.

And so when people criticized as ugly the famed Princess Beatrice Royal Wedding hat by Irish milliner, Philip Treacy, I scoffed. The workmanship and the mastery was lost on many and I am so glad she wore it. More power to the people who wear a hat, an elegant item of one’s attire.

File photo of Princess Beatrice arriving at Westminster Abbey

File photo of Princess Beatrice arriving at Westminster Abbey. A Philip Treacy original.

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