High fashion doesn’t always translate to Instagram, but occasionally something comes along that translates so well, it accidentally veers into parody.
Take the La Bomba hat by Jacquemus. This giant straw hat is absurd to look at on a catwalk, but worn on a sandy beach, and photographed from behind, it encapsulates everything that summer is – and everything you want to be when you wear it. In short, to be seen while not being seen, ideally on holiday.
It has also kickstarted what looks like the defining Instagram trend of the summer – hats with brims of alarming diameter. At Sensi, they are large and paper-braided, while versions at Topshop and Off White, although smaller, come with a wide brim as flat as the Norfolk Broads. At Missoni, they are shaped like an exaggerated wimple. At Gucci, they tie under the chin with a ribbon. At Delpozo, they are more bow-like than hat-like, but the sentiment remains.
Dig deeper, and oversized hats serve the same seen/unseen purpose on celebrities. Melania Trump hid beneath a white one designed by Hervé Pierre when the Macrons visited the White House. Justin Bieber dodged speculation over his love life in a straw version as he took a “meditative hike” through the hills.
Jacquemus is the French label for cool French women. The Jacquemus girl, the handsome, oft-tanned designer Simon Porte Jacquemus once told the Guardian, “is not Parisian, and that is important. She is French, and French girls are not elegant, they are raw, casual, spontaneous.” It is also a label that likes to play with scale when it comes to accessories. His tiny Le Sac Chiquito handbags are the size of your fist, yet are the It bag of summer 2018. The La Bomba hat is the size of a manta ray, making it impossible to transport, yet it is long sold out and, even if it wasn’t, is comically antisocial, shielding not just its wearer from the sun but anyone on the same stretch of beach. And yet …
Hats have become heavy with meaning, and a good way to signal an allegiance – be it Trump’s red baseball cap or the pink pussy hats. If autumn 2017 was dominated by baseball caps worn by people who wouldn’t normally wear baseball caps, then other kinds of hats are successfully revised each season, and do the same job. See berets, stetsons and, now, straw hats. Much like Lenny Kravitz’s famously large scarf a few years ago, hats are the quickest way to signal a “don’t look at me, but, like, do” level of fame.
If Instagram 2017 was all about tropical kitschiness, starring flamingos and cacti among other twee nostalgic tics, then this is the summer of the giant parody straw hat. Some shade intended.