No, this is the not Vivienne Westwood hat that Pharrell made iconic, although you’d be forgiven for thinking so. It’s almost as big. This hat is by Joe Corre, Westwood’s son, co-founder of Agent Provocateur, environmental campaigner and owner of East London-born fashion label Child of the Jago. Shaped with the rebellious spirit of its designer, it’s called the Wild Bill and will transform you into someone who clearly doesn’t want to be part of the crowd. Here’s what Joe said about it:
‘I grew up with my Mum making oversized hats; the Mountain Hat, Chicken George, John Bull etc. She invented an internal, padded sausage hatband which makes sure that the hat stays on, which I used. With the Wild Bill, I was trying to copy the proportions from an old black and white photograph of some Victorian cowboys from the Wild West in America, who wore these high crown bowler hats.
When you’re working with a high crown, slight measurements make a big difference. I found it hard to get the measurements right so I measured the face of the man in the original photo, between the bottom of his chin and the bridge of the nose, and then took measurements of people in our office to get an average. I could then compare these measurements and get an approximation.
The colour and trim are not all the same as I tend not to churn out lots of hats with the same trims. We use a variety of trims: military ribbon made in small quantities which is used on medals that signify battles or various campaigns; they all have different meanings; handmade Peruvian belt which is woven by old ladies.
We also use plain ribbon dressed with different feathers collected from round the countryside and Cornwall, where I spend some of my time. I collect the feathers from birds of prey like owls and buzzards feathers; I also really like the soft grey tones of pigeon feathers.
I like craft, it gives the hats character; a bit Wild West and a bit handcrafted and all different so everyone gets a unique hat. The last thing you want with an oversize hat is to run into anyone wearing the same hat! In Victorian times, it was much more uniform with hat wearing; not now.
All my hats are made by this guy in Luton who has worked with my family for years. When I was a kid, I went on a tour round the UK with my Mum and saw where everything was made. For example, you’d go to Northampton for shoes, Nottingham for lace. Luton started out as a hat manufacturing town.’
Wild Bill hat, £165, A Child of the Jago. http://www.achildofthejago.com/product-category/hats/wild-bill/