Safe to say, our wardrobes have been thoroughly neglected this past year. Well, apart from our loungewear drawer, with global searches for joggers growing by 123 per cent in October compared to the same time last year. But despite there being nothing and nowhere to dress up for, off-the-wall, centre-of-the-Zoom-call barnet-topping headwear – from beanies to berets and all points in between – has been topping our feeds.
From Benny Andallo, the millennial milliner crafting psychedelic hats, to Creature Featur3’s long-eared headpieces – not to mention Ed Curtis’ jester-style, multi-colour balaclavas and Puer Deorum’s whimsical, frilly creations – these oversized, attention-grabbing pieces have been injecting fun, colour and spice into our fits. Even if they’ve just been the crowning glory to tracksuits on repeat.
Mowalola, FKA twigs, slowthai, Greentea Peng and Miley Cyrus have all jumped on the bandwagon in the last 10 months, while one scroll through Instagram will surely bring up an influx of influencers trying their hand (or head) at the trend.
“I think it caught on because people are craving a bit of fun and ridicule,” says Anne Fleur, the creator of Creature Featur3. “The reason it’s happening all over lockdown is because people need that moment of escapism more than ever. At least you can have some silliness in these gloomy times by dressing up by yourself and putting on a hooded hat.”
Fleur began making her wonky creations in a period where she was “feeling not hopeful and lost which made me loose my confidence as well as my outlook on life”. And if you’re feeling down, what’s better than looking up at a green, fur-trimmed crown?
“I wanted something to make me feel playful, happy and excited to fool around with the idea of life again,” she continues. So she started wearing her creations – a tartan, devil-horned bonnet, say, or a lime-green, bunny-eared hood – around London. “Most people would approach me and say they liked it and smile. Sure, some people thought I was a bit whack, but it was a nice change to everybody ignoring one another.”
Andallo was similarly inspired after an “overwhelming” six years studying menswear at Central Saint Martins that ended with him failing his masters. Spurred by a Christmas gift of a baker hat from his boyfriend, Andallo realised that crafting outlandish headwear was the kind of playful creative output he needed.
“I like to create spicy vibes for the everyday celebration, in the hope of bringing some colour and life to the mundane,” says the 28-year-old designer, “I think a fab hat helps lift your spirits and those around you. It helps to bring out the best version of yourself, regardless of whatever situation you’re in.”
With his fuzzy faux fur dome tifters (as seen on Princess Julia, the self-styled“first lady of London’s fashion scene”), or his wonky, fleecy, floral hats made in collaboration with designer Ed Curtis, it’s job done.
“Jessica” (she’s keeping her real name, ah, under her hat) is a 22-year-old waitress who’s been on and off furlough. She’s one of Andallo’s happy customers.
“I was drawn to the hat because I was looking for something to lift my spirits. Even though there’s nothing to do and nowhere to go out, I feel so extra wearing it around the house,” she tells us, beaming. “And that brings me so much joy.”
Andallo agrees. “The world’s pretty bleak at the moment, so we might as well have as much fun as possible.”
For sure. If, right now, life is pretty dull and poor all round, this is one way we can all be millinery-ionaires, right?