The world of hats can be fascinating and fashionable. It can evidently be controversial, too. But more about that later.
With the upcoming Mad Hatter’s Tea less than a month away, Event Co-Chairs Carmaleta Whiteley and Barbara Daseke assembled a crowd Tuesday night for a hat trunk show by California designer Carol Bader at Brooks Brothers in the West Village. In addition to designing collections for BB, Carol has a very established clientele including Mad Hatter’s Honorary Chair Nancy Rogers.
While BB store manager Julianne Noble admitted this was the store’s first hat trunk show, BB proved to know just how to entertain the ladies who hat by greeting them with trays of flutes filled with champagne.
Just as quickly as the gals sipped the bubbly, they were trying on hats. Everything from big brimmed to floral concoctions were bouncing from head to head with nary a tie-down bonnet in sight.
These gals take their toppers seriously because this year’s hat judging has taken on a serious tone. Unlike past years when the judges were lovers of fashion, the 2012 judges are experts in the fields of art since this year’s theme is “The Art of Nature.” Every one of the judges has bona fide credentials in visual arts. Think experts like Jeremy Strick and Kenneth Craighead.
Since Barbara Daseke was delayed by a late-arriving flight, Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum President Sharon Ballew and Carmaleta decided to proceed with the agenda. Hat judge Kenneth Craighead was pointed out with Carmaleta adding, “I think he can be bribed with champagne.” Then she pointed out Steve Kemble in a straw hat; he will serve as this year’s auctioneer. Steve shouted out to the crowd, “Get out your checkbooks!” Then underwriting chair Carol Seay in Brooks Brothers Blue told the group, “I want to urge all of you to attend Mad Hatter’s. . . It’s going to be a lot of fun. If I can wear a hat, you can wear a hat!”
Once the announcements were over, it was back to hatting and chatting. Salvation Army Special Events Manager Ashley Terrell recalled her days at Neiman Marcus and working with the legendary hatter Frank Olive. . . Nancy Gopez was trying on as many hats as she could get on her head. . . Lynn Dealey was receiving rave reviews for her “The Art of Nature” logo. . . . WFAA’s Ron Corning, who couldn’t make the party, was announced to be the emcee for the tea and Jan Strimple-produced fashion show with clothes from Betty Reiter, Cicada, Forty Five Ten and V.O.D.
Ah, where did the controversy come into play? What was known as the cocktail hat has been resurrected as today’s Fascinator and has gained popularity thanks to Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding. These little itty-bitty nests of hats are usually bigger than a barrette and made of feathers, flowers or beads. Think the Fascinator to a traditional hat like sandals to boots. However, the Fascinators have ruffled some very proper types, who believe a hat should be substantial. The Royal Ascot has announced that ladies will have to wear hats, not Fascinators, in the Royal Ascot’s Royal Enclosure this year.
But Mad Hatter’s is not the Royal Ascot, and one can only imagine what will show up thanks to Carol and her parade of chapeaus.