12.3 Inseparable hats

1900 hat eleganceTop hats were still an irreplaceable match of male elegance.

From Paris’s Belle époque overflowing with champagne, where Giovanni Boldini paints portraits that mark history, all the way to Central Europe’s capital, Vienna. In London’s race stands it is preferred in a light colour with a dark ribbon. For official and elegant occasions, hats are shiny soft silk with a matt satin ribbon.

Tights were coordinated in a medium shade of grey, ton-sur-ton ribbon and button. Silk hats were worn with frock coats, redingotes, and gala evening tails. Benjamin Guggenheim would always tell his friends that they were aboard the unfortunate Titanic: “With Tails and Top hat, at least we’ll die as gentlemen”.

Even Bowlers continued to have the role of protagonist and show themselves off on Arthur Toscanini’s head. Italian artists often became ambassadors of the nation’s taste.

Puccini was photographed wearing a Lobbia Homburg. Enrico Caruso triumphed in New York and in Petersburg he exhibited “eccentric clothing and luxurious hats”. D’Annunzio, who was a model of male elegance in Paris, was inseparable from his satin felt hat. It wasn’t very large, slightly curved and trimmed with stitched ribbon. A refined touch was the satin button which matched the rope that acted as fastener. The “D’Annunzio” hat was very in Vogue with the intellectuals that adored the Liberty style. They wore a gardenia in their button hole, kid leather gloves, spats on shiney shoes, and a walking cane with a grey hound head-shaped handle.

Carducci, who was more sombre and nationalistically rooted, wore a light coloured, large brimmed soft felt hat. This is how he was seen in Bologna as he would walk to the University were he taught Italian literature. Soft and comfortable felt hats were preferred during the late 19th Century Milanese Literary Movement, and by the art world. King Victor Emanuel wore a wide Fedora felt hat during his hunting trips. It was similar to a Homburg with a tight brim, and was launched by Sarah Bernhardt in Sardou’s homonymous comedy staged in Paris.

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