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Pretty as a Picture (Hat)

Today was Oaks Day at the Spring Racing Carnival, which is also known as Ladies Day, and the pink rose is the official flower for the day – it can be purchased from flower sellers near the entrance of the racecourse. Today is also known as my sister Star’s birthday, and I was in fact celebrating the occasion with her and my two other older sisters.

However, this hat (bought in an op shop a few months ago) surely personifies the day’s theme, as it is coloured rose pink and resembles nothing so much as giant flower petals that have fluttered down and settled on the head. It looks different from every angle, as the sinamay has been crumpled into an asymmetric shape.

There is also a large exotic flower on one side which I disliked (such trimmings seem so common to me). It would look so much more elegant and sculptural without it. At first I thought that I would be able to remove it by ripping off the stitches, but unfortunately the milliner saw fit to glue it down to such a degree that ripping it off would destroy the sinamay at the crown. I am trying to reconcile myself to its existence.

the trim, and the wide brim, define this as a picture hat, also sometimes known as a ‘Gainsborough’ hat

In fact the trim, and the wide brim, define this as a picture hat, also sometimes known as a ‘Gainsborough’ hat (after the 18th century painter). The name derives from the way the broad brim frames the face and creates a ‘picture’. Other wide-brimmed hats are called cartwheels (usually worn flat) and halos (usually worn upstanding on the back of the head, like an angel’s halo also as seen in old paintings); both these styles were popular in the 1940s. Picture hats often were lavishly trimmed, as in the Edwardian era, so my single flower is probably quite restrained.

At any rate, it is an entirely frivolous hat, for though the brim is enormous, the loosely woven material would provide zero protection from the sun. But not all beautiful things need to be practical, do they?

Photo: July 2016

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