Originally created in 1849, the bowler (sometimes referred to as the derby or a melone because of its melon-like shape) was created as an accessory for protecting gamekeepers' heads from hitting tree branches while horseback riding. Since then, it has gone on to top countless and diverse noggins. The most obvious of them, Charlie Chaplin, is immediately associated with the hat, as well as Malcolm McDowell's character, Alex, in the cult-classic A Clockwork Orange, and Liza Minnelli's role, Sally Bowles, in Cabaret. (We also have a difficult time imagining what Mr. Potato Head would do without his plastic black bowler!) Whoever inspired the current derby revival so many celebrity fashion muses are partaking in, the results are fantastic. We are elated with how a bowler hat polished the leather jacket and black skinny jeans combo Mischa Barton wore two weeks ago while shopping in Milan. We're also equally enthralled that Pixie Geldof used one of the chic round hats as a precautionary precipitation shield from Glastonbury's notorious rainfall. The lovely Rachel Bilson incorporated this accessory in the androgynous ensemble she wore while promoting her line, Edie Rose for DKNY Jeans, in Florida last month. Bilson wore Chanel's Petite Felt Bowler ($1125, 800.550.0005) with her Edie Rose for DKNY Jeans Roll Sleeve Button Woven Shirt ($59), a blazer, and ballet flats.
It's true that we're fond of how well a bowler plays out in daywear, but they are equally relevant for nighttime outfits, too. Both Daisy Lowe and Georgia Jagger embraced the derby in their recent evening attire for London's Fashion Week. Lowe attended the Giles S/S 09 show wearing a sheer Dries Van Noten Top, Les Chiffoniers PVC Leggings ($330), Alejandro Ingelmo Billie Jean 1 Pumps ($830, available at Harvey Nichols boutiques), a Vivienne Westwood Coat, and topped the look off with a vintage bowler from Annie's Antiques (+44 20 73590796) in London. We also spotted Jagger wearing one very well. She attended Vivienne Westwood's S/S 09 show in a button-up blouse over a vintage shirt, black mini skirt, three-buckle flats, and accessorized beautifully with a bowler.
If all of the celebrity style support for bowlers, coupled with our own outspoken fixation on this hat shape, has left you in need of one yourself, then our job is almost done! However, we couldn't let you walk away from this Accessory Report without both takeaway knowledge of the trend and some thoughtfully chosen product recommendations! After scouring our plethora of beloved online retailers, we are most pleased with the looks and prices of Urban Outfitters' Felt Bowler ($38, in black or blue smoke), Helena Berman's Wool Bowler Hat ($54, in black or cream), and Forever 21's Ribbon Trimmed Derby Hat ($17). However, we couldn't help lusting over some more high-end options, like the Japanese-designed CA4LA Felt Bowler ($240) and Sonia Rykiel's sparkly swan-festooned Felt Hat ($1100). Also notable: all of the chapeaus at Hats in the Belfry, specifically Christys' Englishman Fur Felt Derby ($288). For those of you who prefer to try on a few different varieties before finding one that is just right, we suggest going to Goorin Brothers in Hollywood, which has been famous since 1895 for their chic selection. Hats off to you, dear readers! -Jessica Amento
Photo of Mischa Barton, INF Photo. Photo of Pixie Geldof, Wire Image. Photos of Rachel Bilson and Georgia Jagger, WENN.