Golden Gazette News
However, perhaps the most surprising thing about the iconic and long-lived fedora was its origin. While gangsters exerted a powerful influence on the public imagination in the 1930s, the era of the classic pulps, and their influence was especially strong on the fashion of the day, including headgear, they were not the originators of the hat. That honor belonged to Sarah Bernhardt, through her starring role in the playFédora, written by Victorien Sardou in 1882 specifically for her.
In the 1889 American adaptation of the play, Princess Fédora wore the soft, low-fitting hat, its brim creased lengthwise. Bernhardt’s popularity lent the hat such cachet that the next decade saw fedoras become a part of the fashionable female’s wardrobe. The style soon spread to men’s hats as well, and by the gangster era the fedora was an essential element in menswear.
Gangsters took the businessman’s costume of the day―a conservative business suit―and dialed it up to 11, with wider stripes and bolder colors, even plaids; enhanced shoulders, tight waists and trouser bottoms wider than the norm. When they chose their hats, the rules were the same: unique colors, brightly colored ribbons, even feathers made the look their signature. A gangster’s fedora was often the most colorful part of his ensemble. Lilac, petrol blue, dove, almond green―nothing was off limits when it came to expressing individuality through a gangster’s hat.
Not quite as formal as the similar derby or porkpie hat, the fedora is more versatile, and originally was sold without its characteristic pinched front so that its owner could style it to suit. Gangsters who could move from legitimate businessman one moment to cutthroat the next found that such flexibility filled their needs. Depending on his mood, the gangster could snap up the back of the brim and snap down the front, thus partially concealing his eyes and forehead and obscuring emotional “tells,” clues to his inner state.
The fedora was the head cover of choice for the heroes and villains of the classic pulps. A quick survey of the cover art of the classic novels and magazines reveals the ubiquity of the fedora in pulp fiction, from Walter G. Gibson’s iconic adventure hero The Shadow to L. Ron Hubbard’s detective novel Dead Men Kill. And between the covers, too, if the writer paid the least bit of attention to a character’s wardrobe, it probably included that classic hat.
The popularity of the fedora among both gangsters and their nemeses, G-men, is not surprising. Both these seemingly different groups attracted the same general type of person―one who craved stimulation, action and danger, and who was not content with the more mundane, and more common, career paths. So perhaps it is only natural that they also gravitated to the same fashion.
The flexible fedora, able to be shaped, dented, bent and curled according to the whim of its wearer, symbolized these men’s adversarial relationship to conformity.
Compare the fedora to the bowler, with its uniformly round top and narrow brim. To dent a bowler is to destroy it. But a fedora can be personalized in any number of ways, with center dents, diamond crowns, teardrop crowns and others, and the dents and creases can be positioned in different places. Style aside, the fedora’s wide brim protects the head from rain and wind. Gumshoes and gangsters often operate outdoors, in back alleys, on street corners, on docks and piers and behind warehouses―so they need protection. The fedora’s practicality and sturdiness made an impression not only on the pulp heroes but in Hollywood, and the public responded by demanding similar “gangster wear”―resulting in the Broadway suit, set off by a fedora.
Where Hollywood goes, the public continues to follow. Although the fedora fell out of favor for a while, along with men’s hats in general, the arrival of adventurer Indiana Jones―another pulp-style hero, who would be at home in any 1930s or 1940s tale―resurrected the fedora. Hip-hop, rapper and jazz stars completed the resurgence, adopting and adapting the venerable headwear into something that says you’ve got it all.The world has changed a bit since the days of the classic pulp stories, but we are still drawn to them by the common threads between that time and ours―the thrill of adventure, the thirst for justice, and the enduring style of the fedora.
Lucas Johnson is an award-winning journalist.
Fedoras, especial large brimmed are the must have accessory du jour for fall 2014.
Here are some CALLANAN styles available at JJ hats center NYC, Pork Pie hatters NYC, Lord and Taylor and better stores throughout the USA.
|CLASSIC FEDORA WITH FEATHER AND PEARL PIN.|
|CALLANAN SNEAK PREVIEW FALL 2014|
|RELAXED CRUSHABLE CALLANAN RIBBON FDORA|
|CALLANAN FEDORA WITH APPLIQUE FALL PREVIEW 2015.|
|CLASSIC CALLANAN SUMMER FEDORA|
|YOU DON'T NEED TO BE IN A SUIT AND TIE TO DON A SEXY CALLANAN FEDORA|