Dare A Head Go Bare? Not At This Royal Wedding

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  • While all eyes may be on the bride at Friday's royal wedding, many stares will wander toward the other crowns in attendance: the hats. Each year on Ladies Day at the Royal Ascot racecourse in Berkshire, England, attention turns from horses to fashion. Here, a racegoer looks through her veil as she poses for a photograph on Ladies Day last June.
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    While all eyes may be on the bride at Friday's royal wedding, many stares will wander toward the other crowns in attendance: the hats. Each year on Ladies Day at the Royal Ascot racecourse in Berkshire, England, attention turns from horses to fashion. Here, a racegoer looks through her veil as she poses for a photograph on Ladies Day last June.
    Adrian Dennis/Getty Images
  • Middleton herself is known for her eccentric taste in hats. She donned this plumed number as she and Prince William visited Trearddur Bay Lifeboat Station at Anglesey on Feb. 24 in Trearddur, Wales.
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    Middleton herself is known for her eccentric taste in hats. She donned this plumed number as she and Prince William visited Trearddur Bay Lifeboat Station at Anglesey on Feb. 24 in Trearddur, Wales.
    Chris Jackson/Getty Images
  • Rooted in British tradition, hats are worn by royals and nonroyals alike. Here, Prince Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Princess Haya Bin Al Hussein of Dubai attend Royal Ascot Ladies Day with Sophie Countess of Wessex in 2010.
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    Rooted in British tradition, hats are worn by royals and nonroyals alike. Here, Prince Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Princess Haya Bin Al Hussein of Dubai attend Royal Ascot Ladies Day with Sophie Countess of Wessex in 2010.
    Stuart Wilson/Getty Images
  • Princess Eugenie of York arrives at Ladies Day on June 19, 2008.
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    Princess Eugenie of York arrives at Ladies Day on June 19, 2008.
    Chris Jackson/Getty Images
  • Florence Claridge poses with her hat, a creation by milliner David Shilling, during Ladies Day in 2010.
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    Florence Claridge poses with her hat, a creation by milliner David Shilling, during Ladies Day in 2010.
    Adrian Dennis/Getty Images
  • The Duchess of Cornwall (left) talks with former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at the annual Founders Day Parade, on June 9, 2005.
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    The Duchess of Cornwall (left) talks with former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at the annual Founders Day Parade, on June 9, 2005.
    John Stillwell/AP
  • Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, wearing a coral silk dress and matching hat, ride in a carriage to Waterloo Station to start their honeymoon on July 29, 1981.
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    Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, wearing a coral silk dress and matching hat, ride in a carriage to Waterloo Station to start their honeymoon on July 29, 1981.
    Rob Taggart/AP
  • Considered a substitute for the royal crown, hats allow Queen Elizabeth II to be easily identified. As monarch over the past 50 years, the queen has worn about 5,000 hats. Here, she smiles as she leaves the Royal Chapel in Windsor Great Park, England, after attending morning prayers on April 20, 1986.
    Hide caption
    Considered a substitute for the royal crown, hats allow Queen Elizabeth II to be easily identified. As monarch over the past 50 years, the queen has worn about 5,000 hats. Here, she smiles as she leaves the Royal Chapel in Windsor Great Park, England, after attending morning prayers on April 20, 1986.
    Peter Kemp/AP
  • In this 1945 picture, Princess Elizabeth (left) wears a left halo hat trimmed with flower designs as she stands next to her sister, Princess Margaret Rose, during the wedding of Diana Piers Legh and the Earl of Kimberley at Windsor Castle in London.
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    In this 1945 picture, Princess Elizabeth (left) wears a left halo hat trimmed with flower designs as she stands next to her sister, Princess Margaret Rose, during the wedding of Diana Piers Legh and the Earl of Kimberley at Windsor Castle in London.
    AP
  • A collection of hats worn by Queen Elizabeth II to the Royal Ascot races is on display at Buckingham Palace.
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    A collection of hats worn by Queen Elizabeth II to the Royal Ascot races is on display at Buckingham Palace.
    Ben Stansall/Getty Images
  • Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, was also known for her taste in hats. Here she is shown through the years.
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    Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, was also known for her taste in hats. Here she is shown through the years.
    AP Photo
  • The Queen Mother arrives for a function in London in May 1980.
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    The Queen Mother arrives for a function in London in May 1980.
    John Glanvill/AP

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At the the Royal Wedding, the hats will be on display as much as the bride herself. Whether simple feather arrangements or outlandish towers of flowers, hats are works of art. Host Liane Hansen talks to milliner Luke Song about who's wearing hats and why they're coming back as an outfit staple.

LIANE HANSEN, host:

Today, is the day for Easter bonnets, but they won't hold a candle to the crowns at Westminster Abbey this Friday. At the royal wedding, the hats will be on display as much as the bride herself. Whether simple feather arrangements or outlandish towers of flowers, hats are works of art, and they're popular both in the U.K. and in the U.S.

Luke Song of Mr. Song Millinery designed Aretha Franklin's bowed gray chapeau for President Obama's inauguration. He's at member station WDET in Detroit. Welcome to the program.

Mr. LUKE SONG (Mr. Song Millinery): Well, thanks for having me. Happy Easter, everybody.

HANSEN: Happy Easter. You must be exhausted. How many of your own Easter bonnets are being worn today?

Mr. SONG: Oh goodness. It's in the thousands.

HANSEN: Has anyone requested you millinery services for Friday's royal wedding?

Mr. SONG: Yes. We've been keeping very busy for that actually.

HANSEN: A lot of veils this year?

Mr. SONG: Not as much, but especially a lot of the younger girls, which I'm very surprised to find that they're going for the lot of traditional veils and it looks really young and hip, in my opinion. I guess fashion always comes in circles. And Kate Middleton had a great effect on the fashion. Those, like, profile hats that she's pictured wearing.

HANSEN: So, it's on, like, half of her head. It's tilted in such a way that it kind of covers a bit of her face.

Mr. SONG: Oh, yes. I've been making a lot of those.

HANSEN: Wow. You're going to be watching?

Mr. SONG: Oh definitely.

HANSEN: What are you going to be looking for, aside from your own hats?

Mr. SONG: Just very bold styles. An event like that kind emboldens the rest of the people, I think, for them to wear something that is a little what they consider every day to be a little risque.

HANSEN: Well, this is high season for hats. I mean, we've got the Kentucky Derby coming up and Mother's Day. What role does a hat play in an outfit?

Mr. SONG: Well, I think you're not dressed until you have a hat on. Also, I think it defines a person. If you just remember back to the inauguration, Aretha Franklin, nobody can tell what she had on, you know, below her neck, but they absolutely remember the hat. So, the hat's really become the focal point of any event.

HANSEN: Luke Song is the designer for Mr. Song Millinery in Southfield, Michigan, and he joined us from WDET in Detroit. Thank you so much and happy Easter once again.

Mr. SONG: Thank you for having me.

(Soundbite of music)

HANSEN: And you can see a gallery of millinery confections at our website, NPR.org.

This is NPR News.

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