The advent of felt

What can be considered as a hat par excellence and has survived through the ages up to today is the headwear recognised by everyone as the "felt". Worn at the turn of the 15th Century, it takes its name from the materials used to make it: this textile, deriving from animal hair and obtained by felting the fibres together, had already been used in the past and probably originated in Mongolia.

It is said that the first person to wear a "felt" was King Charles VII but it seems that only during the reign of Francis I in the first half of the 16th Century did this hat become a real "must" for those Frenchmen who were able to follow their sovereign's fashion: with very wide brims, the hats were adorned with feathers, buckles and precious stones.

The "felt hat" spread throughout the rest of Europe, in different shapes and styles according to the country: Italy followed the French style while in Germany, Great Britain and Spain other versions were fashionable, always decorated with ribbons, lace and other ornaments.

(Rolls of coloured felt, traditional Mongolian headwear; Portrait of King Charles VII of France by Jean Fouquet; Portrait of a noblewoman in a black dress with her dog by Jean Louis Gauffier)


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