11. The 1800’s
The Middle class of the early 1800’s saw its prestige grow in Europe and North America so they set a more practical and sober fashion. The frock coat was transformed into tails and became compulsory for the entire first half of the 1800’s, accompanied by printed waistcoats and multicoloured ties.
But the true new sign of male elegance was represented by the top hat, destined to portray the role of true protagonist in the history of hats. It is believed to have originated in China and have been made in silk by a Cantonese milliner. It reached France in 1795 and was worn by the young founders of the Incroyables, supporters of a style that was more adapt to realistic ideas.
Tall and cylindrical, it was also called ‘bomba’, ‘canna’, ‘tuba’, ‘a torre’ and ‘a staio’, and reached its definite fame in England. In fact, it was Mr. Herrington, perhaps the most famous milliner of London, who in 1805 made the first top hat by drawing inspiration from the French felt “top” hat. Initially, the novelty was judged so excessive that Lord Mayor had prohibited its use.
But the market decided otherwise. Fashion tastes of those days matched the top hat so much that it quickly spread throughout the world. Even though the crown changed with time, the brim remained practically untouched and curled on the sides. This moulding process required great ability due to its stiffness and hence not easy to flange and trim.
With the Restoration Period, hats became bulkier, like in the case of the BOLIVAR, with a high conical crown and a wide brim that was inspired from the top hat.