6 February–23 March 2013
Hats have historically played an important role in fashion, as practical conceits, visible symbols of propriety and class, and vehicles for adornment. While contemporary society no longer dictates the daily use of hats, the appetite for millinery on the catwalk, in editorial and even on the high street continues to flourish.
Head On investigated this new space occupied by women’s decorative millinery, situating head wear within the context of a total look, and thereby addressing its relationship to body and hair. The exhibition also showcased contemporary interpretations and subversions of head wear, exploring their dynamic role in fashion styling.
By displaying hats as part of ensembles on mannequins, this exhibition illustrated how scale, shape, colour and proportion may be used by milliners, designers and stylists to reframe the body. Engaging with it as a whole, the pieces on display often extended the body beyond its natural limits. Looks selected illustrate how head wear completes a designer’s vision on the catwalk.
This featured collaborations between milliners and fashion houses, such as Stephen Jones for AF Vandevorst, Donna Karan and Giles Deacon, Philip Treacy for Gareth Pugh, Noel Stewart for Roksanda Illincic and House of Flora for Hannah Marshall, as well as designers who produce millinery in-house or incorporate head wear into their design aesthetic, such as John Rocha and Yohji Yamamoto.
Hats are also conceived as isolated design objects, illustrated here by the concept-driven head wear displayed on busts. These pieces treat the head as a site of experimentation, which becomes almost sculptural or abstracted, as increasingly witnessed in editorial. Featured pieces were by Yasemen Hussein, Katsuya Kamo for Junya Watanabe and Lara Jensen.
Bespoke hairpieces by Bumble and Bumble and Radio London Hair Salon & Gallery accompanied the head wear.
Head On was curated by Leanne Wierzba and Gemma Williams.