Designers show head wear is far from old hat at London Fashion Week, crediting the Duchess of Cambridge effect with a new-found public interest in millinery.
LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (FEBRUARY 17, 2012) (REUTERS) - Day one on Friday (February 17) of London's bi-annual fashion week saw some of Britain's finest millinery adorning the well-groomed heads of the city's fashionistas.
The "Headonism" event, curated by one of the world's leading hatmakers Stephen Jones, was in celebration of a British Fashion Council initiative supporting young British hatters.
Five of the most creative up and coming British milliners (Charlie, le Mindu, L Smith Esquire, Noel Stewart, Piers Atikinson and William Chambers) showed hats at the cutting edge of millinery.
Speaking to Reuters Television, Stephen Jones said hats have become an important part of fashion.
"I mean almost more important now than they have been in my career - in the past 30 years. Where as hats used to be very much an esoteric thing for special occasions. I mean I think they're really like, part of - certainly the fashion world and also society - thank you Duchess of Cambridge," he said.
The Duchess, who is regularly seen out in hats, is credited for much of the demand.
"I think here in Britain, so much of our taste and what people like comes from the Royal family and the Duchess of Cambridge is our style leader", said Jones.
Fashion designer Zandra Rhodes who also attended the event, told Reuters hats are the new hot-ticket fashion item.
"I think hats are the new must-have. I think they finish an outfit. I think now they are the ultimate thing that people will buy more than actually buy an outfit now."
And she too credited The Duchess of Cambridge for the trend towards head wear .
"I think there's a tremendous boom, boosted as well by the Royal wedding. I mean now, you go the races you know like in California as well, they're all in hats, they're all in little somethings that are all influenced by the British hat industry".
The "Headonism" initiative allows a select-few hat designers to display and promote their work, with Royal Ascot providing sponsorship.
The social event of Britain's horse-racing calendar is big business for the hat industry and none more so than this year. Fascinators have now been banned from Ascot, meaning women will be required to wear hats.
London Fashion week runs until Wednesday (February 22) and will see designers such as Burberry, Stella McCartney and McQueen show their collections.