Saturday, April 30, 2011

Royal Wedding Hat Parade

So the wedding is over, the bunting is gone and we have all woken up to hangovers. Was the dress the best part of the wedding? It was nice and she looked lovely but the best part of the wedding had to be the parade of hats on show. As Philip Treacy told ABC news "You have to wear a hat because it's tradition. Thats what England's about."

Unfortunately some of my favorite hats were on the heads of the 'commoners' at the wedding and so, it would seem, there are no pictures of them available on the web thus we will have to make do with the more famous heads.

First up is Mother of the bride Carole Middleton. Her dove grey Cathrine Walker suit with matching hat by Jane Corbett is a safe bet and though her hat isn't knocking me to the floor it is very mother of the bride-ish. Rumor has it that this was a bit of a last minute choice after deciding she didn't like her original outfit with expensive matching hat by Jess Collett. I wonder if that was more extravagant?

Next is Camilla in the first Philip Treacy hat of the day. I do like this hat and love the size of it though again I am not floored and the height and roundness of the crown is a little Laurel and Hardy for my liking but a good effort all round.

Princess Anne (who has to be my favorite hat wearing Royal) looked stylish as ever with this purple floral number. Love the coat! This set a trend for well dressed Royals with Princess Ameerah, The Countess of Wessex and Princess Maxima of the Netherlands all looking stunning in hats varying from turbans to feathers and crinoline.

The Spanish Royals brought their A game.

Amelia, Eliza and Kitty Spencer (daughters of Earl Spencer) all donned Philip Treacy and stood out as the belles of the ball.

Sophie Winkleman, Zara Phillips and Princess Marie Chantal of Greece went for big and tall in shades of blue and black.

Not everyone hit the mark though. Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice have been universally dissed for their choice of half crab half ribbon sculptured piece and strange renaissance outfit. Personally I don't think the hats are too bad this is just a good example of how to wear a hat badly. If either of these girls had pulled the hat up and to the side a bit they would have looked a lot better (scrapping the outfits and washing off the panda eyes wouldn't have hurt either).

I was also less than impressed by both Princess Victoria, who looked like she was going for a job with easy jet in a hat that was too big for her head, and Victoria Beckham who, as well as having a wierd hat (I am still on the fence about this one), looked in a foul mood the whole day which just annoyed me.

I am also on the fence over Tara Palmer Tomkinsons blue moon/gravy boat number. I like statement hats but I think the outfit blew it for me. Blue hat, shoes, dress, bag, gloves, shawl just too much too much.

But for me there was one clear winner and it came as a complete surprise. Miriam Gonzalez Durantez wife of Nick Clegg shone in her black turban (I love turbans) adorned in huge bright orange and black flowers. STUNNING. She gets extra points for wearing a hat at all as David Camerons wife, while wearing a lovely dress, was hatless...BOOO. Perhaps we are being to harsh. Maybe she saw Miriams hat before the wedding and thought there was no way she could compete with that and so to save herself the embarrasment of being completely outshone decided to stash her at in the cupboard under the stairs before anyone saw it.

It cannot be denied that the Royal wedding has done nothing but good for the hat industry both at home and abroad, but there was one slightly depressing aspect to the day. In total there were 36 Philiph Treacy hats on show, most of these on the most photographed heads. While I do love Treacy and his creations it highlights, for me, the lack of modern milliners in Britain. What once was a thriving industry can today be whittled down to two or three notable names. Here's hoping that a renewed interest in hats means that by the time Harry gets hitched there will be more than one milliners name being thrown around. Maybe Aka Tombo will even get a mention.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kate the mundane bride?

The Traditional Japanese wedding headdress supposedly meant to hide the brides horns from the mother-in-law.

Only three days to go until the Royal wedding and even here in Japan the TV is slowing turning into a running commentary of guests, seating plans and "what will she wear". Since the announcement of their engagement Kate has been watched with hawk like eyes by the world press and has generally been hailed as an emerging style icon which I can only hope will carry through to her wedding outfit.

When looking back at other royal weddings it is hard to find something to say about the dresses: they are white, puffy and have a long veil. This applies not just to our British Royals but pretty much every counterpart including the recent royal weddings in Denmark and Sweden. The only standout exceptions being the marriage of Spain's Crown Prince Felipe to news reader Letizia Oritz who wore a very simple slim cut dress though maintained the long white veil

and of course the ever beautiful Grace Kelly in her 1956 wedding to Prince Rainier III of Monaco who wore a stunning beaded dress with an almost medieval lace veil (her slightly alternative wedding dress may however have had something to do with it being made by the wardrobe department of MGM).

The lack of inspiring wedding dresses isn't just a Royal problem. Having planned my own wedding last year I am well aware of the mediocracy and sameness that dominates the wedding industry and so to help Kate out a little I have put together some alternative options for her wedding day. With three days to go it may be too late to do much about the dress but I am sure Mr Treacy could knock you up a hat in no time.

My first suggestion is to loose the veil and rock up in an amazing hat (bet you weren't expecting me to say that) like these by Japanese designer Hisako Takayama

Flowers and feathers and bows, oh my...(said in a Dorothy-esque way)

Hippie chic perhaps with the ever funky headband.

Or keep the veil but just make it a bit more interesting with an ultra-veil!

You could even go Lady Gaga with a hair hat?

Ok, so maybe some of these suggestions are a little much to expect from a Queen to be but I will be watching the BBC world service on Friday hoping that when the golden carriage door opens a puffy white diamonte (or possibly the real deal?) dress with full length train and white veil is not what emerges. After all this fanfare and build up, please don't be a mundane Bride Kate.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Bonnets

Happy Easter everyone

In honesty I had completely forgotten it was the easter weekend as, being Buddhist, the Japanese don't celebrate easter. It's amazing how quickly you lose track of festivals from home when there are no cream eggs and bunnies around to remind you.

I hope all of you at home are fully gorged on chocolaty goodness, as I hope soon to be (my Mother assures me there are easter eggs in the post), and send forth some easter goodness for you to feast your eyes on.

It is said that having observed lent, and denied themselves of all luxuries, women back in the day would rush out on easter morning and buy a new bonnet to wear for the days celebration thus the easter bonnet was born. It can be found in varying incarnations today from the school easter bonnet contest of fluffy chickens and straw through to masterpieces by couture milliners. Though I do love the many modern easter bonnets out there I must admit that the ladies of yesteryear are still showing us up in a big way, BIG being the operative word, though it seems Stephen Jones is giving them a run for their money.

Easter Bonnets aren't just for us girlies as Stephen Fry proves with his pink easter bonnet, clearing the path for men everywhere to embrace their fluffy chicken, flower loving self.

Hope you are all enjoying your long weekend!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Hey ho all. This week I have been getting excited about summer as it means I will get the feeling back in my fingers and toes after this crazy long Niigata winter and so I started to toy around with a sun hat idea I have had for a while and thought I would give you a sneak peak. This isn't for sale yet but is the first in a series of Steampunk influenced hats that will be in the Aka Tombo shop soon!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Aka Tombo hat of the day

Leather Sakura Blossoms

It's April here in Japan which means only one thing, Sakura, or cherry blossoms to you and me. This hat blends in perfectly with the delicate sakura blossoms through dark and light pink leather flowers with rose quartz centers and brass leaves sitting upon a cherry blossom pink kimono silk base. The fabric is intricately embroidered with waves of cherry blossom flowers and individual petals with sakura branches emerging from the back of the hat.

A little look inside

Thanks to the people at the V&A and their amazing collection celebrating hats, today I bring you a sneak peak into how hats are made and a wee interview with, possibly Britain's most famous milliner, Mr. Stephen Jones.

Millinery in action: making a hat in the Stephen Jones workroom from Victoria and Albert Museum on Vimeo.

On Location: An interview with Stephen Jones from Victoria and Albert Museum on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Casual meet Cocktail

As the days have finally started getting warmer I have noticed more and more hats out and about in Niigata. Todays Casual hat comes courtesy of two fabulously fashionable young chaps I accosted at the traffic lights in town. It appears they got all dressed up just to go to Mister Donuts for a coffee proving any time is a good time to wear a hat.

Our Dressy hat comes from Ms Helena Bonham Carter known for her, um, quirky fashion style showing us that sometimes just one hat isn't enough!

I couldn't agree more :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Aka Tombo hat of the day

Sakura Puff Kimono Silk Cocktail Hat

It's April here in Japan which means only one thing, Sakura, or cherry blossoms to you and me.

This hat celebrates the delicacy of the sakura bloom with a puff of white veiling dotted with pink glimmers of rose quartz stones resting on a heavily embroidered salmon pink and white vintage kimono silk base finished with two roses of the same fabric at the back.

A Little Joseph Gordon Levitt Love

Since featuring him in my men rocking hats post (or rather men that should rock hats but are choosing no too in his case)I must admit that I have fallen a little bit in love with Mr Joseph Gordon Levitt. He has come from being the slightly geeky kid in 3rd rock from the sun to being called the next Leonardo DiCaprio, Heath Ledger and Jared Leto all rolled into one. No combination of that could be bad. On top of that, as the photo above shows, he can rock crazy hair, bug glasses and your grannies vintage jumper. There is no beating that.

Having dug a bit deeper I also managed to find some pics of him in hats thus I owe the man an apology (in fairness these all look like they have been styled by other people who told him to wear the hat but I am sure he is wearing them all the time he is just too cool to be caught by the paps). Enjoy...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Aka Tombo hat of the day

Plum Blossom and feathers

Although the cherry blossom may be a more famous symbol of Japan it is the plum blossom that first shows its face against winters ends to tell us that spring is on its way. The deep bold colour of the plum blossom against the dark wood of its bare branches and the white of the still snowy ground has inspired painters, poets and kimono makers for centuries, and now me.

This cocktail hat is made of vintage kimono silk emblazened with bold embroidered plum blossoms. Adorned with a kimono silk rose, curled ostrich quills and coque feathers of black and magenta this hat is a bold statement of colour, style and history.

Beijing Fashion Week

Perhaps it is because I am European, but to me fashion week has always been London, Paris and Milan. As I became older and more interested in fashion New York fashion week raised its head but that is as far around the world as I ever got. So imagine my surprise yesterday when I stumbled upon pictures of Beijing fashion week which took place last month.

China may be known for its crazy cheap textile industry and the place to buy designer knockoffs (as well as its infamous political and human rights issues) but in their somewhere are some high end designers that are making AMAZING millinery!

Feast your eyes...