After Isabella Blow's death in May 2007, it seemed everyone in the fashion world was rushing to take up the late icon's favourite accessory: the hat. Alexander McQueen, whose career Blow helped launch back in the '90s, sent his models down the runway with red butterfly and white feather-fan Philip Treacy hats last autumn. Then Treacy (a Blow darling himself) had his straight-from-the-garden headpiece on Sarah Jessica Parker at London's Sex and the City premiere.
It's a sure thing that heads covered by hats turn other heads. Whether the style is lace, damask, brocade or something off-the-wall, the only rule is to wear with confidence and accept the extra attention. Want to blend into a crowd? Wear a boring ponytail.
Summer is the perfect time for headwear experimentation. There are the horse races, the garden parties, the weddings - all chances to channel Audrey Hepburn or Dita von Teese. Treacy's store in Victoria offers a range of bespoke hat and hairpieces, as does Siggi in Fulham. For a funkier creation, try Mayfair's Cozmo Jenks.
At the Royal Ascot each summer, the motto might as well be "the bigger and crazier, the better". Ladies can get kicked out of the exclusive Royal Enclosure section for wearing a halter-neck dress, but in other areas showing up with three layers of imitation pink wedding cake overhead is just fine. (Believe it. It happened a couple of years ago.) Other adventurous (and strangely magnetic) choices have included a black fountain of feathers and towering strips of the British flag reaching from a bright-red heart.
Queen Elizabeth II has had more than 5,000 hats on her one head in about 50 years. She might not splash across as many fashion magazine covers as Agyness Deyn, but she's got style sense. So take a note from Britain's ultimate attention grabber and go to the milliner's. As Treacy himself has said, "The one thing we all have in common is everybody has a head, so everybody has the potential to wear a hat, I think."
- Jill Hilbrenner