11.1 Monsieur Gibus
In 1812, a Frenchman by the name of Antoine Gibus had a revolutionary idea that would make the top hat more manageable and practical. Thanks to an ingenious system of thin steel springs placed inside the hat, it was possible to flatten it simply by applying pressure to it with one hand. In this manner, it could be carried under the arm or easily placed in any of the wardrobes of fashionable places or even at the Opera.
Monsieur Gibus’ top hat was also named chapeau claque due to the noise the springs made when it was popped open.
The wind of inspiration and creativity brought on by the Romantic Movement was felt even in fashion. With it, the charm of English elegance dominated and George Byron was a well-known spokesperson for it, while in mundane settings the top hat, cane, and glasses set the pace. They were all inseparable companions of “Dandism” of which Lord George Brummel was considered Master.
The cylindrical shape continued to prevail even if the height of the crown changed to the point of becoming the enormous top hats of the end of the Century. The hat continued to be stiff and bulky.