Aretha Franklin's inaugural hat has caused shockwaves across the nation. Ellen DeGeneres and thousands of Internet users poked fun at the big-bowed, sparkly Mr. Song creation. But some women thought the hat was fabulous and have been hounding Mr. Song for a big-bowed hat of their very own. Mr. Song is bowing to the pressure and is busy creating a new line of hats, inspired by the original design.
Detroit-based Mr. Song Millinery, which says Ms. Franklin has been a regular customer for 20 years, is planning to show a collection of 12 hats in a variety of colors, with bows of different sizes at February's Women's Wear in Nevada trade show in Las Vegas.
Although the company, which sells its hats in 500 U.S. stores, doesn't usually name its toppers, the line inspired by Aretha's headpiece will be named for the singer, says Luke Song, chief executive of Moza Inc., which owns the hat label.
"I'd be very stupid not to take this opportunity" to capitalize on the Inauguration Day connection, Mr. Song says. "It's like a huge gift."
Mr. Song estimates that since Tuesday, shoppers seeking Ms. Franklin's hat have bought close to 1,000 of the $179 piece that the singer's style was based on. (Ms. Franklin's wool felt and Swarovski-crystal hat was a customized version that Mr. Song says he did not charge her for.) The singer stopped into his Detroit store two weeks before the inauguration to pick out two possible hats for the occasion, he says, and she ended up wearing the more flamboyant of the two.
The new Aretha hats will retail for between $150 and $250. We can't even imagine what this hat is going to look like in red or pink. But we'll certainly be on the look out for them this spring. You know, this could be just the thing to revitalize the hat business which isn't doing that great during the recession. We don't think we've ever seen Michelle Obama in a hat, now that we think about it, and we feel fairly certain she'd never choose one with a giant rhinestone-bedecked bow on it. But if she ever does decide to don any kind of headgear this spring, it's going to be hat city all summer.