Nancy Cunard wearing a turban photographed by Cecil Beaton
We all know that hats are an ever growing category of accessories, especially as of late. They are popular with all ages, both sexes, and not just humans, and in addition to keeping us all warm and dry, they add a bit of whimsy and personality to anything they are worn with. And of course, they were all over the runways for fall 2007, showing up in a myriad of statement making incarnations.
Having said that, blame it on the inclement weather (you know, that annoyingly fine mist which is symbolic of April and wreaks havoc with one’s hair), or just simply the fact that turbans are the focus of so much attention and are seemingly all over the place these days (featured in magazine ads, blogged and written about, photographed on socialites out on the town), but whatever it is, I must admit I’m sort of taken with the idea of turbans these days; not that I’ve actually worn one (yet, that is).
Hardly surprising since the admittedly retro headgear (the subject of one of my recent Daily Fashion Reports) was Miuccia Prada’s most surprising fashion statement for spring 2007. Though nobody should be surprised by anything Miuccia dregs up from the fashion ‘cemetery’. If anybody can resuscitate something old and retro, and make it look new and young and hip again, it is Miuccia. And more than the specific accessory or piece of clothing she puts her magic spell on, it is the ultimate statement she is making that seems most relevant: “Never say Never”. Whenever you think something is so ‘out’ it could never possibly be ‘in’ again, there it is. And there turbans are again.
Fashion Week Daily called it “Turbania” (March 26, ‘Tracking the trend’) and Eric Wilson wrote a column about the turban in last Thursday’s Style section of The New York Times, taking about the pros and cons of actually wearing one. While I agree they can be tricky and are NOT for everybody (like all other fashion ‘trends’, one must proceed with caution, have a sense of one’s body and style, and take a good long look in the mirror before venturing out), I think they have the ability to look pretty cool in that eccentric Edie Beale kind of way. Or in that Nancy Cunard kind of way.
A fabulously stylized black and white photograph taken of a turban clad Ms. Cunard by Cecil Beaton graced the cover of the Book Review section of The New York Times this past Sunday, accompanying a review of a book written by Lois Gordon, “Nancy Cunard: Muse, Heiress, Political Idealist”. (It sounds intriguing by the way and I intend to read it). Though the picture was dated 1930, it looked timeless and so very ‘now’, the epitome and definition of true style. For me, turbans are not just stylish and chic, but they are part of that whole move towards covering up rather than undressing and baring all. And that includes the head. The way I see it, turbans (which are fabric twisted around the head or around the base of a hat) are another way to wear cloth, another way to add color, texture, pattern, etc.
They represent another choice, another option, and an alternative: whether it is to overcome a bad hair day, camouflage when one has not had time to get to a hair colorist or hair dresser an outfit, or to simply have fun with something novel.
It all goes back to the idea of the ever changing face of beauty (or should I say, the ever changing head of beauty); it’s not just about one way to look great: there are many ways and the good news is that you don’t’ have to fret if you were not blessed with fabulous hair, or if you don’t have the time to primp and pamper yourself, of if your hair is thinning for whatever reason (many women have had to deal with the horrible side effects of chemotherapy, an undeniable fact of life these days).
By the way, this is a perfect time to be dishing about turbans and hats in general…Easter Sunday is upon us (not that the Easter Parade is anything remotely like used to be decades ago), and the Frederick Law Olmsted Award Luncheon held on Wednesday, May 2nd at the Central Park Conservancy (the hat event to beat all hat events), will be celebrating it’s 25th anniversary so it should promise to be even more spectacular this year. It’s an event that many women put a lot of thought into picking out a perfect ‘chapeau’ and quite frankly, I happen to think turbans are a far chicer and more interesting choice than the more obvious and predictable ‘garden’ (pardon the pun) variety large brimmed straw hats trimmed with flowers that so many women opt to wear.
And let’s not forget the highly anticipated upcoming Paul Poiret exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, “Poiret: King of Fashion”, May 9 – August 5th . Paul Poiret was known for his wrapped heads among other things). I think it’s safe to say that many of the lucky female guests attending the celebratory Conde Nast and Balenciaga sponsored gala are already ‘head’ing to the Prada shops around town or scouting vintage shops and websites, to buy their satin turbans which will be the perfectly chic and appropriate accessory for their festive frocks. I also think it’s safe to say Chairwoman Anna Wintour will not be in that head dressed group…she would NEVER think of covering up her trademark bob (which is too bad since it would be rather interesting for her to break out of her expected ‘mold’ sometimes).