Londoners and tourists alike en route to day three of the Olympics, July 30 2012, were in for a surprise as a series of famous monuments had apparently sprouted hats overnight. The Hatwalk is an art installation commissioned by the Mayor of London, curated by veteran milliners Stephen Jones and royal favorite Philip Treacey and funded by BT, “Grazia,” the British Fashion Council and the London 2012 Festival.
Designer Stephen Jones had reportedly told “The Telegraph” that 2012 would be Year of the Hat—but, as the paper quipped, they didn’t know he had quite this under his hat. Overall, British papers seem to be amused by the art installation, with “The Telegraph,” “The Guardian” and the BBC quick to post their comments.
“You’ve got to take your hats off to London,” Mayor Boris Johnson said, according to the BBC. And why not—London has already showed its enormous sense of fun with the Olympic opening ceremony, parachuting Queen and all.
According to the brief art installation’s website, twenty-one emerging designers were chosen to bring a little whimsy and color to otherwise staid monuments of Admiral Nelson, Shakespeare and even a monarch or two. King George IV. Most statues in London are listed buildings. Adding hats is an unusual move that’s sure to bring even more attention to the history of the people presented—some of Britain’s most lofty characters.
Those wanting to check out the historical hat walk need to hurry; the hats will disappear Thursday night as quickly as they arrive. The landmark hats won’t blow away, though; according to “Grazia Daily,” all were tested in MIRA’s wind tunnel to make sure they wouldn’t blow off in a hurry!
Unfortunately, “The Guardian” reported that the hats were no match for humans: Beau Brummell’s hat was removed by Westminster Council cleaners, while Shakespeare’s baseball cap was missing, presumed stolen. Less accessible is Admiral Nelson’s hat with its Olympic flame and Union Jack, made by Lock & Co.–which created Nelson’s original bicorn and has been around since the 1600s!
There are 20 newly-capped statues in all, all in the historic City of London. The Hatwalk is focused in and around Trafalgar Square, making for a quick and quirky visit. The art installation is part of the Surprises initiative, which is bringing art and one-off performances to London during the Olympic summer.
Sources: Mayor of London’s Hatwalk; Surprises; Grazia Daily; The Telegraph; The Guardian; BBC
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