FOR YEARS, HATS were an essential part of everyday dress for men and women. They had both practical and social uses: They protected the wearer from the elements, but putting one on also marked the transition between the personal realm and the more formal outside world. When this began to change in the 1960s, some blamed John F. Kennedy, whose decision not to wear a hat to his inauguration (because he personally didn’t like them) was seen as single-handedly shifting the tide for headwear fashion.
While this may have been a watershed moment, the hat was already in decline. Alongside other factors, the rise of cars seems to have contributed, as they fundamentally changed how people moved about in the world, reducing the need for protection from the weather. Hats became an encumbrance, as people frequently had to remove them in order to drive. And that’s even before the rejection of formality and the long-standing social norms that characterized the late 1960s. That era was the death knell for hats. A direct line could also likely be drawn from there to the preponderance of sweatpants seen in public life today.
But maybe we’ve taken this shift to the casual a little too far? Despite what you might think if you met me during the pandemic years (which, admittedly, saw a loosening of my personal standards), I am not a big fan of sweatpants in public. I also really love a hat. I particularly love hats in the summertime, when I find them essential to help in my near-religious avoidance of the sun. And on a recent trip to Seville, Spain, I encountered a spectacular one.
If there is a brand that sits farther away from sweatpants on the sartorial spectrum than Dior, I don’t know what it is. And their Cruise 2023 collection is a reflection of the house’s ethos of sophisticated glamour. The show took place in the Plaza de España, which was decorated for the occasion with mountains of sumptuous red roses. At sunset, the audience took their seats, and were treated to a flamenco show by Spanish choreographer Blanca Li, scored by composer Alberto Iglesias, known for his collaborations with Pedro Almodóvar. And that’s all before the show itself began. In a celebration of Spanish craftsmanship, the models walked in stunningly hand-embroidered versions of the brand’s signature bar jackets, belts tooled by Andalusian saddle makers, and sharp hats. With a wide, straight brim and a squared top, the Diorodeo long brim hat is more structured than most straw hats, making it seem more formal and significantly more luxurious. And if the hat feels timeless, it is with good reason: It was a collaboration between Dior and Fernández y Roche, who has been making headwear in their Seville atelier since 1887 — long before JFK took the stage with a bare head, and long after as well.
Skye Parrott is the executive editor of Departures. A magazine editor, photographer, writer, and creative consultant, she was previously a founder of the arts and culture journal Dossier, and editor in chief for the relaunch of Playgirl as a modern, feminist publication.
Leandro Farina Photographer
Leandro Farina is a British photographer and director. He has worked extensively in the fields of still life and interiors, contributing to some of the world’s most prominent magazines and brands.
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