‘Hats a Sucess’

Queensland Art Gallery’s exclusive new exhibit is enjoying sucess after 9500 people walked through the doors in the opening four days.
‘Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones’ has opened to acclaim, showcasing more than 250 rare, expensive and ancient hats. The oldest in the collection is an Egyptian hat almost a thousand years old – it dates back to 1100 A.D. The collection even boasts an authentic Darth Vader helmet from 1977.
Standouts include a turqoise turban from 1960, an authentic leather jester’s hat from the 1600’s and the iconic cricketing hat, the baggy green cap.
The exhibition is a result of months of collaboration between the Queensland Art Gallery and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, where the exhibit premeried in 2008.
The pieces come from the Victoria and Albert museum’s extensive collection, and from the collection’s of renowned milliner Stephen Jones.
Stephen Jones, famous for the inventiveness of his collections, was in Australia to officially open the exhibit last week and said he was thrilled that the exhibit was in Brisbane.
“It’s clear that European milliners have certainly learnt from Australian milliners” he said.
Mr Jones is a regular feature on European catwalks, previously designing for Dior, Vivienne Westwood and Balenciaga.Many hats from these collections are featured, including the first hat he ever made, from 1986.
Alongside the London collections are Australia’s own top milliners. Queenslander Alexander Harper is one milliner featured in the specially made ‘Australia’ display, where the baggy green cap is displayed.

The exhibit showcases the creative process behind the hats, and has a milliner’s atelier rebuilt for the display.. The well executed display is a reconstruction of Mr Jones’ original atelier and every detail has been thought of, down to a half empty can of soft drink on a desk.
Instructive videos are scattered through the four different rooms of the display, and information is written across the walls themselves. Each hat is sorted, dated and named. The exhibit trys to not just showcase the hats, but to explain the millinery industry itself. It mostly suceeds, while still allowing people to marvel at the uselessness of some of the hats. One particular hat is miniture carboard boxes piled on top of one another, a gift from one milliner to another for moving house. Hats like these are scattered through the exhibit and encourage people to appreciate them as an art form, and not as a practical piece of clothing.
Queensland Art Gallery Director Tony Ellwood said that the exhibition wanted to engage people in the frivolity of hats, and still allow them to appreciate the historical significance they’ve had.

The exhibit shines a light on a forgotten part of the fashion industry, and does a good job of it. The displays are engaging and well set out, having already been road tested in London. Exclusive to the Queensland Gallery, it continues until the 17th of June. Tours, children’s activities and short courses on millinery are available.