Monday, 28 December 2009

Gertrude Shilling

Stepping off the plane in lovely Gatwick airport I almost immediately came down with a throat infection. I'm now laid up on the sofa in umpteen layers of cashmere watching Sky + episodes of Gossip Girl and Project Runway and, therefore, missing the sales. 
I spent a significant amount of time in India in the company of my extremely fabulous second father, Mark Rowan, who amongst many many other things is an artist whose work was recently acquired for the Khalili Collection. This man is one of my favourite people in the world. Plus he has incredible stories about some of London's most interesting creative people. 
Mark is one of those people who seems to know everyone, including a gentleman called David Shilling, who designed hats for his rather wonderful mother, Mrs Gertrude Shilling.
Sadly, Mrs Shilling died in 1999, before I was old enough to have registered her on the fashion icon radar. But an icon she really is. Her hats made her the "Ascot Mascot", wearing creations including a five foot tall Giraffe hat, an oversized top hat with a rabbit popping out of it, a TV, a giant apple with an arrow through it and a giant purple and blue Bo-Peep bonnet...

(Images via Flickr Celinecelines,,, and

It seems that, with the death of Isabella Blow, we are rapidly losing all of our great hat wearers. Ascot is becoming rather staid. It takes a certain kind of confidence to wear an extravagant hat, but we should all wear more hats. "Wear more hats"is certainly a good New Year's resolution.

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