Mid-summer, while planning my upcoming fall wardrobe, I read through a Man Repeller trend round-up entitled, “Fashion Helmets: On Runway Hats and Who Wears Them, (Spoiler: It’s No One).” Naturally, it was mere moments after I’d studied photos from the current Comme des Garcons collection and its cropped bow-bedecked suits, topped with what appear to be sparkling, jewel-toned fungus in place of hair that would otherwise sprout free, and imagining myself in the runway looks, from rolled cuffs to “infinity tailoring” to those glittered scalps. Also apt: I’d just purchased a CdG vest (worn backwards, and hence backless, obviously), from the spring/summer collection of crushed muslin, to match the boxy catwalk shorts I’d also just acquired, wishing I could also purchase one of the season’s chin-strapped scrap metal headpieces for a full freak look straight from bombshell (and polite society’s) hell. Color me perplexed, but as I read the article in the chewed up Paul Harnden “Haymaker” straw hat I’d stolen from my boyfriend, I wondered, what self-respecting fashion experimentalist assumes she can completely eschew hats, like the decorative parsley on an otherwise tasty dish?
Ladies of style from here to Wetumpka are aware of the transformative abilities of a common chapeau. The Delevigne generation runs on beanies and flat brims, my grandmother’s on turbans and fascinators. So let’s be blunt: any woman with the gall to label herself a certified man repeller- most particularly one to consider herself the queen bee of such a testosterone-offending sartorial movement- can and should be aware of- nay, embrace, the metamorphic capabilities of the avant-garde chapeau. “Hyper-runway,” yes, but what makes said “idiosyncratic headgear” any less wearable than a monstrous platform heel, or further, that aforementioned infinity tailoring? Is an elaborate headpiece any more obscure than a complicated hair-do? Isn’t any accessory mere accoutrement, menial side dish to the meat of a look, and hence, inherently impractical? So why the hat shame, and why now?
To be sure, conceptual fashion needs no rhyme or reason beyond subversion and/or deconstruction. But who defines “wearable,” and in an era of Anna Della Russo and Rick Owens-cloaked street style stars, really, what can’t go from runway to “real way”? Take, for instance, wide-brimmed wool Yohji Yamamoto, dripping in fringe. A catwalk standout, I tried it on upon sourcing the accessory in one of Yohji’s standalone Parisian shops, and immediately deduced said hat was the theoretical bullet to my outfit’s exclamation point. [Procedure repeated upon finding the designer’s oversized berets, re: Chef Boyardee, at If Boutique in Soho; the first click on Style.com’s Instant Runway, re: Ann Demeulemeester’s feather stabbed toppers.] And when I delved into the look of turn-of-the-century peasant wear via elusive labels Paul Harnden and Elena Dawson, I also became enamored by their selections of wood-boned bonnets and floral conquistador hats, respectively. As a passionate advocate of the abnormal and bizarre, such headwear not only serves as the final punctuation to further the alien aspect of a look, but nods to a membership in a clique- a clique in which the commonly dreaded hat hair is the ultimate in hazing, and every sidewalk deserves a Michel Gaubert-designed soundtrack. The mission statement, of course, like anything “frivolous and decadent” (Leandra’s words, not mine), is to stand out from the crowd- far and away from the conservative fashion mob, and into the transcendent realm of the avant-garde, just like that metallic, magnetic seventh grade headgear signified your participation in an, er, less photogenic club. Thom Browne nest, we out here.
It’s not like I’m typing away in a tweed topper style known as “the dumpster”- who, me?- no, it’s called “the window-licker,” and its having a great time with my suspenders and patterned socks, thank you very much. Is this one of those instances where I go all “real women” on you, the audience, and why I’m not included in such a statistic as hinted by Man Repeller’s exclusive hed and dek, merely because I fetishize the awkward hat? Do we even want to get all Cosmo poll on this bitch? This mink porkpie says, “I’m a film noir private eye out for Lauren Bacall, a thief, and a winter-weight trench coat,” misleading in most respects, but I did always aspire to be Nancy Drew, so…
In one respect, you’re right, Leandra- the fashion helmet isn’t necessary. But is any fashion, really? This ain’t rocket science- but let’s be real, if it were, we’d have the perfect headgear.
Here are some of our favorite headgear looks: