Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The History of the Top Hat

From renowned fashion historian John Berendt:

[The] "top hat caused a riot the first time it was seen in London. The perpetrator was a haberdasher name John Hetherington, who designed it, made it and was the first person to wear it into the street. According to a contemporary newspaper account, passersby panicked at the sight.

Several women fainted, children screamed, dogs yelped, and an errand boy’s arm was broken when he was trampled by the mob.

Hetherington was hauled into court for wearing 'a tall structure having a shining luster calculated to frighten timid people.'

It was much ado about nothing, really; Hetherington had merely concocted a silk-covered variation of the contemporary riding hat, which had a wider brim, a lower crown, and was made of beaver. There was initial resistance to Hetherington’s silk topper from those who wanted to continue wearing beaver hats. But in 1850 Prince Albert started wearing top hats made of "hatter’s plush" (a fine silk shag), and that effectively settled the questions; coincidentally it also all but wiped out the beaver-trapping industry in America. "

And we say, if that's not eEvil, what the hell is?

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