David Patrick Columbia's New York Social Diary

4 May, 2007

Riffs on hats

Riff.   Hats and hats and hats. “Does anyone still a wear a hat anymore?” intones Elaine Stritch in her famous arch and edgy version of Sondheim's “Here's to the Ladies Who Lunch.” I was thinking about Stritch and that song as I was watching the spectacle of chapeaux in the Conservatory Garden of Central Park Wednesday afternoon. I was thinking: I guess so!

It was fun to watch. And you could see a lot of women were having fun too. And the men watching. Then there were all the other faces: the shy ones, the slightly skeptical ones, the blasé ones, the uncertain ones, the right-at-home-ones, the rich, the chic, the shameless (I don't think so), and the soigné. And there were a lot of women who didn't. Who don't. And won't. Ever. There was one woman who had a thick mane of grey hair with a very simple cut to the shoulder. She wasn't wearing a hat and she didn't one. Her coif was her hat, and very striking and smart it was.

They were all girls again, however, even the occasional dowagers among them. Even the resisters. And the girls were ladies for this very special luncheon that is far-thinking and at the same time steeped in tradition. The tradition being community and volunteering. And now the hats are a tradition. I'm sure it didn't start out this way 20 years ago. I've been going to it for about ten or twelve years and it's always been hats, hats, hats. But by time I started going, it had become a milliner's fete, and even a fancy one at times.

There were a lot of hats that made women unrecognizable because the hat dominated their features. Or even hid them. Then there were the hats which were highly imaginative. Amy Fine Collins who has the aplomb as well as the daring to make a statement was wearing a hat made by a metal worker out in Brooklyn. It was a piece of sculpture. And perfect for a Spring day in the Park too.

Between JH and me, we took almost two hundred of them (there were 1200 guests at the luncheon) with the Digitals. And so here are some more, a dose that should maybe till next year, if not forever.


Alison Minton and Lucy Neis