Aretha Franklins Hat Creates Fashion Boom
The calls began to flood Luke Song's hat shop not long after Aretha Franklin finished belting out "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" at President Barack Obama's inauguration. Franklin, who wore a gray felt custom-designed hat from Mr. Song Millinery, has inadvertently caused an economic boom for the South Korean immigrant's store. Song said he wasn't prepared for the hundreds of calls requesting the hat with a Swarovski rhinestone-bordered bow. "We even have a lot of men calling to get it for their wives, mothers and grandmothers," Song said.
The hat worn by the "Queen of Soul" was hand-molded and would cost upward of $500 — if it were for sale, the 36-year-old designer said. Customers instead were offered a satin ribbon version for $179. "They want the same hat, but they understand it's for the 'Queen' only," he said. "Ninety-nine percent said, 'That's fine. I'll get the next best thing.'" The family millinery has been in Detroit for about 25 years, and Franklin has been a customer for about 20 of those years. The store also sells to about 500 boutiques across the country.
The now world-famous hat has inspired a lot of parody images, too.
(Thanks to Joe.My.God.)
One comment from my Facebook post noted that most people unfamiliar with African-american church and society culture don't know fo the preponderance of such big hats. "The higher the hat, the closer to God." But when I lived for a year in Pittsburgh, my loft was next door to a Black Baptist church, and every Sunday, the ladies wore big fashionable hats. Of course, every Sunday, one of those hats was held by someone else, as one of those ladies got the holy vapors and had to be carried out in an ambulance stretcher. Really!