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The V&A's significant hat collection is a revealing and exciting record of the changes in headgear over the past 17 centuries. From practical to fanciful and mass-produced to bespoke, the myriad of shapes, styles, materials and sizes highlight that there is a hat for every occasion.

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While hats have been worn for centuries, millinery is comparatively recent – becoming established over the past 300 years – and concentrates on the more decorative and fashionable side of hat-wearing. Not simply an accessory, hats have the power to impart a message of authority, affiliation, individuality, propriety, rebellion and style.

Collection Highlights

Shoe hat, designed by Elsa Schiaparelli, 1937 – 8, France
Hat, by Svend, made for Jacques Fath, 1951, Paris, France
Hat, made for Marshall and Snelgrove, 1937 – 39, London, England
ladies turban hat
Silk tulle turban hat, designed by Paulette, about 1960, Paris, France
Hat, designed by Cristóbal Balenciaga, 1963, Paris, France
Hat, by Aage Thaarup, 1960s, London, England
Hat, designed by Philip Treacy, 1995, UK
Tatlin, hat, designed by Stephen Jones, 1982, UK
Hat, by Otto Lucas, 1954, London, England
hat and gloves
Hat, designed by Lucienne Rabaté, 1946, Paris, France
Corno ducale, hat, 1675 – 99, Venice, Italy
Hat, designed by Philip Treacy, 1991, made for Rifat Ozbek, UK
cloche hat
Cloche hat, made for Liberty & Co. Ltd, 1928, London, England
Hat, 20th century, Gujarat, India
Bowler hat, made by Woodrow, 1940 – 50, UK
theatre costume
Hat worn by Idina Menzel as Elphaba in the original 2003 New York production of Wicked, by Rodney Gordon, 2003, New York, US
Silk orchid hat, designed by Philip Treacy, 2011, London, England
indoor hat
Tang geon, indoor hat, 1850 – 1910, Korea
Tam, hat, 1970s, UK
Hat, 1950s, US
top hat
Top hat, made by James Lock & Co., 1970s, London, England


Background image: L-R: Pink velvet cap, designed by Aage Thaarup, 1950-59, England. Museum no. T.255-1985. Ivy leaf hat, designed by Aage Thaarup, 1950-59, England. Museum no. T.254-1985. Hydrangea flower hat; designed by Paulette, about 1955, France. Museum no. T.247-1984. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London