Rebirth of the Cloche in Roaring 2012

by Miranda Hilderbrand

The fashion world has spoken, and it is very clear that 2012 is the year of all the jazz of the roaring 20’s. Many designers have drawn inspiration for their new collections from the classic deco style and the razzle dazzle of the 1920s. What better to top of this fabulous look that with the cat’s meow of the era: the cloche!

The cloche was first invented by Caroline Reboux, a very well known Parisian milliner, in 1908. Fittingly, “cloche” is the French word for “bell”, and a cloche can be described as a fitted hat that covers a lady’s head from just above the eyebrows to the back of the neck. While cloches were commonly made of felt in their beginning and designed for the fall and winter months, straw versions were created for the spring and summer to ensure its status as a seasonless classic.

The cloche became so famous that one could even have it embellished with beading and lace for cocktail parties, soirées, and even bridal apparel. It also became customary for women to relay messages to on-lookers by affixing ribbons to their hat. My favorites include a firm knot signifying they were married and unavailable, or one could embellish their cloche with a flamboyant bow to signify she was single and interested in mingling.

This amazing hat forged through the 1920s as THE accessory to don, but shockingly and suddenly became obsolete between 1933 and 1934. It began to look as though the fashion world would lose this stylish beauty.

Thankfully, the cloche came back with a bang in 2007 when many designers re-exposed it in their fall collections. It was being featured in numerous magazines, and made its way to the silver screen when Angelina Jolie donned the style in the 2008 film “Changeling” (which was based in the 1920s). This fantastic exposure left many fashionistas taken by the cloche and wanting their very own to complete their personal collections.

Without showing any signs of fading, the cloche made two fabulous reveals in recent history: one in film, and one on New York City’s catwalk. French actress Bérénice Bejo wore many fabulous cloches in the 2011 silent film “The Artist”. The cloche was also an accessory of choice in Fashion Week 2012 for numerous designers including Ralph Lauren, Sonia Rykiel, and Christian Dior.

Mark Bridges (costume designer for “The Artist”) commented on the cloche by saying that “they sort of hide your face and are very coy”, which encapsulates the style perfectly. They give women an air of feminine sophistication, as well as a bit of sexy mystery, AND they are the perfect accessory for a bad hair day! The cloche is definitely a must for every woman’s personal collection, and I strongly encourage every woman to release their inner flapper and have fun with this adorable and timeless trend.