Hats Off to London: Olympic Host City Tops Statues in Style for ‘Hatwalk’

The King George IV statue in Trafalgar Square wears a new hat designed by Stephen Jones. Below, Lord Nelson in a design by Sylvia Fletcher of Lock & Co. (Photos: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

How does London top an opening ceremony full of dark Satanic mills, dancing ill children, Mr. Bean, a star-crossed love story that may have involved time travel, and the guy who wrote Tubular Bells? With hats, lots of lots hats. The Olympic host city surprised residents and visitors this week with “Hatwalk,” a quirky collaboration between the Mayor of London, Grazia magazine, and sponsor BP that placed giant hats on the venerable public artworks of the capital. With the help of milliners such as Phillip Treacy and Stephen Jones, 21 statues were fitted with elaborate chapeaux (made of plastic or other non-conductive materials). The task of securing them fell to a crew of workers and a fleet of cranes in the wee hours of Monday. It’s not a project we can imagine happening anywhere else. “Around the world, people tend to associate us with hats now,” says Jones. “Historically of course, this was always true. But I think nowadays, thanks to things like the Royal Wedding, and the Jubilee, people around look and see someone with a crazy hat on and think, ‘Oh, they must be British.’ Hats really are representative of British culture.”