World-renowned hatmaker Ellen Christine is one of the few American milliners commissioned to make hats for guests at Friday's royal wedding. With 30 years in the business, she has collaborated with designers like Phillip Lim, Nicole Miller, and Jill Stuart; she's also the go-to hat person for the Polo Classic on Governors Island (where guests like Madonna watch Prince Harry play). Christine talked about the hats she's sending to the wedding, as well as what she predicts we'll see people wearing.
Tell us about some of the hats you made for the royal wedding.
I made two hats for Americans who are both engaged to Europeans. One is a designer, and the other works in the wedding industry. I can't tell you who they are, obviously. They ordered from me a month and a half ago, as soon as the invitations were in the mail. The peach one has a large silk flower made by M&S Schmalberg, with feather quills to make a sculpture. In hat language, it is a "fascinator," a headpiece that attaches to the head with a comb headband or clip. A fascinator is a cousin to the cocktail hat and should have some height and depth perception. The blue one is made of horsehair, a giant pouf of horsehair with tulle. Both pieces will be very New York-y. English hats tend to be made of a harder straw cloth, but I use a softer version. I don't do hard-edged. I make my hats flow a little more organically. That will be the difference between my hats and others at the wedding.
Will everyone be wearing a hat?
You can't show up as an American to an English wedding without a hat. It is de rigueur.
What are you looking forward to seeing other people wearing?
I want to see Kate wear a tiara; I want to see the queen lend her a tiara from the crown jewels. I'm still reeling from the fact that Grace Kelly didn't wear one. That is one of my favorite weddings of all time.
What do you hope Kate will wear?
The same as everyone else is saying, something modern but still elegant, so no one pooh-poohs her. Something with a dramatic train and a veil that is cathedral length. I can only hope that she will take advantage of the back view.
What kind of veil do you think is best for her?
It will be silk illusion or Chantilly lace, but she doesn't seem like a lace girl to me. At best, she will have some lace trim.
What kind of hats are appropriate for an English wedding?
The people will be divided between large brims, like what the queen wears, and fascinators. Everything in England is about what the queen wears; she started the whole Kentucky Derby thing. Then, there will be the young moderns, and they will be wearing their hair straight and with cocktail hats or a fascinator. I think it will be split 50-50.
What will you do on Friday?
I've been invited to two separate parties. I want to get up early. Rosanna Scotto on Fox News will be wearing a hat I made as well, so I want to watch that. But I want to see the wedding with friends.
Are you excited?
I think this event will help turn the heads of two or three generations of people who haven't seen the likes of something this fabulous. Kate has a younger approach, and it will change generations of the hat-wearing public, make hats cool again. Everyone is saying that this will change the hat industry. No more naked heads!