Spring and racing carnival hats are in the air

23:38, Aug 31 2009
Carla Bruni
THE BRUNI EFFECT: The pillbox hat, worn to devastating effect by Carla Bruni, is making a return.

Before we get to all the cheesy horseracing puns about "pretty-looking fillies" and "long-legged mares", it should be made clear that this is a story about hats.

Pillbox hats, to be precise. The signature headgear of Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn, worn to devastating effect by Grace Kelly and Carla Bruni, is officially back, and tipped to make an eye-catching run over the spring racing carnival.

"Certainly this season we see a trend towards refined dressing so the pillbox and cocktail-style hats are very relevant," Judy Coomber, Myer's director of apparel, says. "The pillbox hat was a huge trend in the 1960s and this season there are many interpretations from sweet, refined, petite shapes to more exaggerated, grander styles."

Wendy Stone, of the Australian Millinery Association, attributes the second coming of the pillbox to "a resurgence of the old romantics, a rebirth of that older sense of glamour that you saw with Audrey Hepburn and Jackie O. It's also just a nice, easy-to-wear hat."

The return of the pillbox is proof that if you live long enough everything comes back into style. Deliciously satirised in Bob Dylan's 1966 song, Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat, the pillbox is nudging out the great racing staple, the fascinator - worn with such panache by Kath Day-Knight of Kath & Kim fame - in a move to more structured headwear.

Shoulder pads are also back, in what Ms Coomber claims is "a softer interpretation". "It's not as exaggerated and it is very flattering. It gives you silhouette and a smaller waist."

She has a word of warning, too: stay away from sequins. "I would suggest some fabrics are not suitable for the races, such as sequins and satin. There is a key trend this year with metallics, [which] can be infused into your outfit with a key piece, such as a shoe or bag, but I would not suggest dressing in this style head-to-toe."

Indeed. You can go nude, too. "There is lots of colour in fashion this year, but we have also seen muted and nude tones on the catwalk," she says. "These softer, subtle tones - pale peach, beige - are showing up in racing millinery as well."



Sydney Morning Herald