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She’s All Hat: The Season’s Most Versatile Accessory

by Esther Adams

Miroslava Duma at the Chanel fall 2012 runway show

Photographed by Phil Oh 

“Hats are both practical and an accessory,” says stylist Caroline Sieber, musing on the recent obsession with head adornments spotted across the fashion capitals earlier this month. From Jil Sander’s demure veiled beanie paired with a chunky knit sweater to a sequin-embellished Balenciaga visor twinkling in tandem with the bejeweled shoulders of a Prada coat, it seems that attention-grabbing head coverings are the popular choice, not only for combating the elements, but for making inventive style statements. Indeed, Sieber’s recent combination—a navy Maison Michel fedora worn with a sweater in a matching hue and fluttering diaphanous skirt in contrasting pink—offered minimal effort to maximum effect. With a collection numbering 30—those Maison Michel fedoras, panamas from Bates in London, and numerous children’s hats from Italian brand I Pinco Pallino among them—Sieber has long been a fan of their versatile ways. As she puts it: “They are a little bit of a disguise, some double as sunscreen, and they can transform a plain look into something special.”

Caroline Sieber in a Maison Michel Fedora at Paris Fashion Week
Photographed by Phil Oh

Freelance writer Miroslava Duma agrees. “I was born in Siberia,” she explains regarding the reason behind her countless collection, which she augments following every trip to London and Paris. “So I got used to wearing hats in a stylish way.” Duma certainly turned heads crossing the Jardin des Tuileries in a rich, burgundy beanie and kaleidoscopic color–blocked knits, which echoed that deep red hue, and again at Chanel’s show in an eye-catching vintage sailor hat atop a vintage Chanel blazer dotted with brooches, all in a navy blue wash. “Hats can make a look brighter, stronger, and add an element of fun,” she says.

Miroslava Duma at Paris Fashion Week
Photographed by Phil Oh

t’s true that this new approach to headwear takes dressing up beyond merely the functional. But what really sets this coterie apart from anyone else pulling on a beanie to ward off a chilly breeze is the thoughtful way they’ve built their chapeaus into a look: a simple color match à la Sieber or a characterful nod toward a Coco–inspired sailor uniform as Duma illustrated so effortlessly. And while part of the charm of this new skyward style focus lies in a nostalgic formality, the practice hasn’t evolved beyond its time-honored challenges.

A Balenciaga Hat Worn at Milan Fashion Week
Photographed by Phil Oh

“A bad hair day always follows,” says Duma. Hair stylist Pasquale Ferrante of Ion studio in SoHo advises: “Prep with thickening spray that will boost up your hair. Then, if it’s loose, you shake it, but if it’s pulled back in a ponytail or a bun, you need to move it around with your hands to bring back the texture.” Ferrante adds, “Just don’t do the bun too tight, and stay away from anything that makes it heavy, or a gel that will flake.”

Whichever solution you go for, according to Sieber, the most important element is this: “A hat can make an outfit, but it takes personality to carry one off!”

Hanne Gaby Odiele at Milan Fashion Week
Photographed by Phil Oh