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Fanfare and Fascinators

Updated: Jun 13, 2022

This week, I watched part of the Platinum Jubilee marking 70 years of Queen Elizabeth II ’s reign. On June 2, 1953, I watched her coronation on a tiny, black and white TV, the only type available at the time. I clearly remember the horse-drawn carriage with hooves tripping along damp streets delivering the young princess to Westminster Abby. I recall the splendor of the gowns, luxurious robes and the piece de la resistance---the bejeweled crown. All of it far exceeded the capacity of my ten-year-old imagination. The newly-crowned queen kept her head bowed. People mused, was it the crown or her upcoming responsibility?

This year, the fashions were just as elegant as ever. Hats have always been the hallmark of well-dressed British ladies for centuries. In 1558 the first Queen Elizabeth made quite an impression with her wide, flat silhouette; dresses crafted from richly embellished fabrics. Paintings of her show a coordinated, often jeweled toque, an exclamation point of sorts to complete the regal image.

Hats by nature must coordinate and add the perfect finishing touch to an ensemble. Traditionally, hats covered the whole head and stayed in place through all weather. Many had brims and veils to add drama and mystery. Then, during he 1940’s a style called the “doll,” and a similar little number called the “cocktail” hat landed on the scene, popularized through the cinema. Brimless, hats to fit with and not interfere with the day’s hairstyle followed. Remember Jackie Kennedy’ pill box hats accenting her thick, dark hair? Cutting-edge fashion and creative hats defined and kept us intrigued by the inimitable Princess Diana.

In recent years, a hat appropriately called the “fascinator” gained appeal. It is comprised of a mélange of fluffy, frilly fabric, feathers and ribbons worn on one the side of the head and held in place it seems with a hope and a prayer. (Actually, with pins, combs and who knows, maybe even spirit gum and/or Velcro?) This style captured attention this year like none other. Designers outdid themselves with colorful discs as big as platters. All that vertical frippery gave dignitaries major competition.

If you enjoy clothing and following fashion trends, has a journal for you to write about your fashion successes — and (gasp) mishaps. Irony in action is the outfit that you thought was outstanding until years later when you only wanted to destroy those photos of yourself in it. Tell, tell, tell all. Your journal will never reveal your secrets.

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