Hats Made Me Exhibition Features Work by Six QEST Milliners
19th May 2023
The Culture Trust, Luton, is currently showing Hats Made Me, a major exhibition that explores the significance of headwear and includes work by six QEST milliners. Comprised of more than two hundred exhibits drawn from the Trust’s extensive collection, along with loans from contemporary milliners and local communities, it is the largest presentation of its type. Appropriately it is being staged in Luton, the Bedfordshire town that dominated the British hat industry from the 19th century to the postwar period.
The featured QEST milliners are Veronica Main, Lucy Barlow, Ellie Vallerini, Virna Pasquinelli, Sahar Freemantle, and Ehioze Freckleton of The Panama Hat Company who is exhibiting the hat pictured here.
Featuring more than 200 objects, the exhibition includes a bridal hat worn by Cara Delevingne in Vogue, Michael Keaton’s cowl from Batman, a velvet hat donned by Kate Sharma in the Netflix hit show Bridgerton, and a lace mantilla worn by Queen Isabella II of Spain.
This is one of the largest exhibitions of its kind, pulling together practical and purposeful headwear, with wonderful and whimsical costume from stage and screen. The exhibition explores why we wear hats, and how headwear is used to protect and transform, to say something, and to mean something.
Hats Made Me presents iconic headpieces that transport the wearer into an instantly recognisable character. From Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor Who hat, to Cate Blanchett’s headpiece for her Oscar-nominated role playing the monarch in Elizabeth: The Golden Age made by Stephen Jones OBE, to a Stormtrooper helmet from Return of the Jedi, the exhibition presents hats and headwear that have featured in global film and cinema.
Hats Made Me also represents Luton’s own social and cultural heritage, with a stunning array of headpieces including a durag, an Irish Catholic communion veil, silk and gold Ghanaian headdresses, Muslim prayer caps and Sikh turbans. Also on display is a Miss Vauxhall Tiara worn by the winner of a beauty pageant sponsored by Vauxhall Motors – an object that unites the hat and motoring industries that built Luton.
Samuel Javid, Creative Director of The Culture Trust, Luton, says ‘This is an incredible opportunity
to see a world-class collection of hats and headwear. This is one of the largest exhibitions of its
kind, pulling together practical and purposeful headwear, with wonderful and whimsical costume
from stage and screen. This is a rare chance to see hats that defined an era, headwear that made
a scene, and some special bits of pop-culture – like Johnny Depp’s pirate hat, and a space suit
worn by Matt Damon.’
On show until 10 December – for more details click here.