On runway hats and who wears them, (spoiler: it’s no one)
One thing that came up while looking at the most recent resort collections and more specifically at Alexander Wang’s second ready-to-wear collection for Balenciaga, was the topic of odd hats. If you let time take you back through fashion’s trajectory in reverse mode what you’ll find is a plethora of imperforate collections that tend to feature the one strange caveat that make them hyper runway: idiosyncratic headgear.
Take, for example, Balenciaga’s funfetti bucket hats–which were a perfect pick-up point post the lampshades that Oscar de la Renta sent down his controversially-aided-by-Galliano runway the previous season. In Balenciaga’s instance, they seem not only fit for the aspiring vision impaired but also just the right accoutrement at, say, a nightclub on the Champs-Elysees.
I likely need not even remind you of the fur, floppy hats Marc Jacobs produced (solely) for his FW12 show or the enormous turban-style knit Oliver Twist caps that uniquely complimented the rather streamlined fall collection from Band of Outsiders (slides 7,8) the following FW season.
Considering that which was evident at Kenzo (slide 5) and a combination of the beret-cum-swim caps at Ralph Lauren (slide 6), what I can only describe as tar colored brain guts at Comme des Garcons (what else should one anticipate, though? slide 10), Yankee Doodle’s feather point needle through a white felt hat at Anne Demeulemeester (slide 11,) and Acne’s version of Indiana Jones’ highly fashionable, Swedish hat, I just have to ask: why?
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the hats–I’d kill for some tar-colored brain guts just as violently as the next man repeller–and I understand that they’re serving a purpose in their ready-to-wear, not-ready-for-you singular form. Just what that purpose is, though, I’m not quite sure.
I can chalk it up to saying that without the hats, the simultaneous aspiration and opportunity-to-gawk factor gets lost but that seems too easy. And while hats were historically recognized as an accoutrement used to indicate a favorable social status, there is vast artillery to denote the same sentiment now. So where does that leave these if not directly at the intersection of frivolous and decadent?
Do they need to fall anywhere else to prove their worth?
What I’m thinking is this: as Cathy Horyn put it at the close of the Fall/Winter 2013 season, “to be relevant is to be wearable.” And while, of course, that hasn’t always been the case, (dip back a mere two seasons and you might find the flaming botons of Gaultier’s Cyndi Lauper homage,) there’s something to be said about allowing hats to be whatever they want to be as a means to catalyze a designer’s intrinsic artfulness without impeding on the business of his/her brand. So while practicality might not necessarily be their strongest attribute, that’s probably a good thing. Hats may very well be what keeps the creative process afloat.
Now, on a slightly unrelated note, I ask this: remember when Carrie Bradshaw tried to pull a story out of the contents of her sock drawer? …? ….? ….?
Images via Vogue.com