Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Hats! at the Ethnographic Museum in Kraków

As I perused the folk costumes at the Ethnographic Museum in Kraków, I was enchanted by the elaborately decorated hats.  I've written before about how I used to wear and collect hats.  Although I don't collect hats any more and rarely wear them, I guess I still have some inner hat lust that emerged at the sight of these beauties.

More than most accessories, hats seem full of symbolic and cultural significance.  As we were traveling, we visited synagogues, where Q was required to cover his head, and cathedrals, where he was asked to remove his hat to uncover his head.  Wearing hats can denote respect or disrespect.  Historically, women's hats have often been derided as silly fashion accoutrements, and yet a woman wasn't considered fully dressed without an appropriate hat.  Each type of hat has its own meaning -- the cap, the fedora, the bowler, all call to mind different situations and different types of people. (In one episode of the British sitcom, Are You Being Served?, they discuss specific rules about who is allowed to wear which type of hat, based on their rank in the company, for example.)  Consider this quote from Bella Abzug:
I began wearing hats as a young lawyer because it helped me to establish my professional identity. Before that, whenever I was at a meeting, someone would ask me to get coffee. -- Bella Abzug
The hats at the Ethnographic Museum seemed more like the kind one would wear on festive occasions, rather than an everyday accessory.  But as the museum signage notes, folk costumes carry a great deal of meaning about one's social place, so without a more detailed understanding of traditional Polish culture, I can't speak to the cultural significance of the hats.  But I can enjoy the artistry and adornment they represent. 

Wearing a hat is fun; people have a good time when they're wearing a hat.
 -- Philip Treacy

Not only is there color and sparkle, but the designer used beaded wire to create additional dimensionality. 

But speaking of dimensionality, check out this Very Tall Hat!  I wonder what base is used to support the embellishments.

Hat or wearable Christmas tree?

Fancy hats for men, too!  I love the feathers.  

A person carries off the hat. Hats are about emotion. 
It is all about how it makes you feel.
-- Philip Treacy

P.S.  I had never heard of Philip Treacy before -- I came across his work while looking for quotes about hats.  I'm glad there are still people who are passionate about making special hats.  You can find out more about him here and see some of his hats here and here

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