Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Wearing formal hats and something more of soft felts


Another excerpt from Book III (coming up):

All formal hats - for example, toppers, cokes and hunt caps - are properly worn to sit more or less straight on the head but, in the case of toppers and cokes, tilted slightly forward - but not at a rakish angle, which might be appropriate to soft felts, panamas and tweed hats and caps. On the subject of soft felt hats: the trilby hat is named after George du Maurier’s late 19th Century novel and play, Trilby; because one of the protagonists, Little Billee, is ‘discovered’ wearing such a hat. The heroine, Trilby O’Ferrall, an artist’s foot model, was mesmerized by the evil, controlling Svengali. George Palmella Busson du Maurier (1834-1896) enjoyed a youthful career as a Bohemian artist in Paris, before he settled in Hampstead, North London. He worked as a cartoonist for Punch and his most famous cartoon was True Humility (1895) above, from which we get the familiar expression ‘a Curate’s egg'.

The caption is:
Bishop: “I’m afraid you’ve got a bad egg, Mr Jones!”
Curate: “Oh, no, My Lord. I assure you! Parts of it are excellent.”

George was the grandfather of the even more successful novelist, Daphne du Maurier.

The higher-crowned, broader-brimmed fedora hat is also named after a fictional character: the heroine of Victorien Sardou’s 1882 play, F├ędora.

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