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The cloche hat: the fashion symbol of the roaring '20

A hat which was born in a specific period and which is inextricably linked to the fashion imagery of the early decades of the 20th century, the cloche hat truly embodies the city of Paris and the flappers of the roaring twenties.

We took inspiration from the past, namely the cloche hat, the newsboy hat and the coppola hat, to create a capsule collection of iconic and vintage hats in denim cotton recycled from old jeans. In this post we enjoyed delving into the history and features of the cloche, an iconic hat that has characterized a generation of women who contributed to the modern evolution of the female image.


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History of the cloche hat

The cloche hat, also known as “bob”, was invented in Paris in 1908 in the atelier of milliner Caroline Reboux and it soon became an iconic object worn by the most fashionable women of the time.

Reboux was in fact a very popular milliner, boasting a clientele of noblewomen and high-ranking personalities such as the actress Marlene Dietrich and the Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon II.

In the early 1900s, in fact, there was a shift from a pompous fashion that had characterized the last decades of the 19th century to a taste in clothes that included much simpler and more minimalist lines. From very wide brimmed hats full of feathers and flowers that adorned elaborate hairstyles, they moved on to a small hat that was often combined with very short and clean haircuts.


Characteristics of the cloche hat

The name “cloche” comes from the french word for “bell”, precisely because of the shape it must call on the head.

Usually made of boiled wool, the classic cloche is moulded over a wooden or aluminium shape in order to give it this characteristic shape. Thanks to the material and the process used, once shaped, the cloche maintains the desired shape.

Although born with a bell shape and with a rigid material such as felt, the shape of this hat was soon enriched and embellished, varying the materials and enriching with ribbons and decorations, but also changing the shape of the brim with particular movements on one side only. Some versions also provided for the circular brim to be arranged by raising or lowering it at the centre or laterally.

The peculiarity of many models of cloche hats was in fact to frame the face asymmetrically, giving a halo of mystery and elegance to the ladies who wore it.

The flappers as cloche fashion icons

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Greta Garbo's Cloche[/caption]

The cloche hat was very much in vogue among flappers, a new generation of very young women who lived free from the constraints of society. They were relaxed and at ease even in areas that were considered taboo at the time, for instance sexuality, but also in activities considered purely masculine, such as driving cars and drinking alcohol.

The term "flapper" comes from English slang and indicates a young woman, who goes from adolescence to adulthood, showing a certain dislike for the respectability and the stereotype of the good girl.

The flappers had the merit of having first raised the hem of their skirts, even above the knees, adopting a clothing rich in beads, sequins and feathers. They also often wore short hair with very square cuts, sometimes even trousers. Their overall look was attractive but at the same time "garçonne", inspired by a young designer who had just come to the fore: Coco Chanel.

In the common imagination the flapper is associated with the charleston dancer, a dance that surely all young women loved at the time. But the flappers meant much more than feathers and beads: they paved the way for those great little revolutions of costumes and everyday life that contributed to the conquest of many women's rights.

The cloche somehow accompanied this process, reaching the present times through the use of different materials and shapes.

We at Rifò also wanted to create our own version in recycled denim jeans. Come and discover the recycled jeans cloche hat in our online shop.

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