Wednesday, 11 April 2012
The coolie hat
Picture source: http://eclecticjewelryandfashion.blogspot.se/
The coolie hat is an English name on a conical hat worn in several Asian countries for protecting from sun and rain, often made out of straw.
Anna Mae Wong
I’m not sure when Western fashion adopted this style, but at least since the 30’s and it became quite popular with Dior’s New Look, probably because it’s shape gave the new siloutte a nice balance. In its simplest form it is a circle where one section has been removed to give at shape and is secured by a ribbon under the chin.
New Look, 1947
I first came across it in Agatha Christie’s novel Evil Under the Sun (1941) where the beautiful Arlena Stuart makes her entrance in a white bathing suit and a green coolie hat in lacquered cardboard. As is usually the case when Christie is specific about a garment, the hat plays a vital part in the murder. Perhaps Christie didn’t like coolie hats as it is worn by another beautiful and stupid woman in Dead Man’s Folly (1956), but in black straw this time.
Patricia Morison, 1939
I would like to have one myself and have been looking around. Most coolie hats you can find are cheap ones meant for a stereotypical representation of a Chinese person at a masquerade, but at Village Hats you can find a nice one in straw. I, however, want a green lacquered one… The obvious solution is to make one, and I have a fairly clear idea on how. I will have to get back to you on that.
Lady Charles Cavendish, 1936
"For hours of relaxation, Bette Davis selects a dress of black linen with a huge pocket encrusted with powder blue in a Chinese design. It is topped with a brief bolero of powder blue linen and a coolie hat of the same fabric".
Jeanna Limyou, 1954
Teddy girls, 1955
Sometimes the fashion designers moved the original shape into more or less fanciful directions.
Dior fur hat