13.3 At war with the Fez

The winds of war began to blow. Victor Emanuel, emperor of Ethiopia, was seen wearing a colonial helmet, instead blue berets were worn by Italian volunteers in the Spanish war. Secretariat Starace declared the FEZ compulsory so it was worn by the “bold”. It was a red conical head dress with a black silk bow and was common in the Ottoman empire and later in the Arab states. It took its name from the capital of Marocco where it was manufactured to be exported towards Islamic countries. Under Fascist rule, the ones in coarse wool fabric came into fashion. It was dyed cloth made in Sardinia. The fabric ended up naming the hat and the ORBACE was seen along side the kaki colonial helmet. The new African campaigns were underway.

Mussolini hats


U. Pericoli, Musolini’s Uniforms 48

During official occasions, Mussolini abandoned the top hat which he sarcastically called “Stove tube”.

Autarchy brought with it lanital, a fibre obtained from milk casein, and this created a longing for beaver and rabbit fur felt hats that had become a distant memory. Hats became rare. War demolished even the elegance inspired by “treacherous Albion”. People wore old felt hats, wool caps and berets. The relentless closure of transoceanic markets led the famous hat factory of Monza to a decline. Only Churchill, while visiting troops, was determined in wearing his Homburg; a variation of the bowler with a semi rigid crown that is rather squared and tall.

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