Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Aretha and The Hat That Roared....

Morning Family....

Just a few moments to comment finally on Aretha & "The Hat" on Inauguration Day....

I KNEW the moment I saw Aretha in that hat for the Inauguration, that she was gonna get it.

And get it BIG TIME.

Of course, being a former "church girl" myself, I totally understood the concept (matching ensemble, rhinestones, pearls & gloves..... Oh yeah!!! That hat was very much a "Mother of the Church/Pastors Anniversary/Palm & Easter Sunday" sort of a hat....I mean Aretha is real "Old School" and that's how we do it!!!

But as soon as I saw that hat I said to myself (and to my girl Deb, who was watching with me) "Oh Nooooo.......She's gonna be the butt of every joke in this town!!!"

lol...and she was.

But is it me or has this damn hat taken on a life of it's own???

From The Detroit Free Press Online:

Paris? No.

Milan? No.

New York? No.

New Center? Yes!

Aretha Franklin’s now-famous bow-tied, gift-wrapped, jewel-studded, $179 inaugural hat was designed, produced and sold to the Queen of Soul by Mr. Song Millinery, a family-owned business on Woodward Avenue just south of W. Grand Boulevard, a couple of blocks from the Fisher Building.

Starting minutes after Franklin finished her distinctive rendition of “My County ‘Tis of Thee” Tuesday, the store’s phones started ringing.

By this afternoon, they had sold hundreds of hats. A store they work with in Dallas had sold 500 more, and the material was running out.

“People are calling from England, asking for the hat,” said Luke Song, who designed Franklin’s chapeau. “I’m shocked. I had no idea. We did not expect this.”

The hat has gone crazy in the media and cyberspace. Everyone from Jon Stewart on the "Daily Show" to the women on "The View "talked about it Tuesday and today. (Stewart poked fun at it; the women seemed more appreciative.)

On today’s Ellen DeGeneres Show, Ellen wore an exaggerated hat similar to Franklin’s.

On the Internet, people have created dozens of sites devoted to the hat and, using software, have placed it on mug shots of Dick Cheney, assorted dogs and the heads of Mt. Rushmore, among many others.

On the Los Angeles Times blog page today, a poster named Sarah Hart wrote: ”Loved that hat! She is the Queen and she rocked that hat and made that old staid anthem new and powerful!”

Song said Franklin, a longtime customer, came to him and wanted something to go with a coat she had picked out for the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

“She had in mind what she wanted,” Song said. “She said, 'I want it altered this way.’ That’s what we do most of the time with the client. We meet them half way."

The heather-gray hat was done in wool felt. The sparkly things are Swarovski crystals.
The hat Song was selling to avid customers today is not the precise customized hat Franklin wore, but it’s very close.

Song, 36, of Southfield chatted today and took calls from around the globe, surrounded by about 1,000 vibrant colored hats in the store, which sits in a stretch of Woodward that has evolved into a funky avenue of fashion. Next door on one side is an abandoned store. On the other side is the Praise Him Beauty, Barber and Nail Salon.

The hat store was started by Song’s mother, Jin, an immigrant from South Korea, in 1982. Luke Song, who graduated from Birmingham Seaholm High School and the Parsons The New School for Design in New York, does the designing.

“It’s an art form for me,” Song said. “For me, hats define a culture.”

Mr. Song Millinery’s clientele is 90% African-American, church-going women, Song said. His wholesale business supplies hats to shops in other cities with large African-American communities, and the merchandise sell especially well in California, Houston and Dallas. He designs 100 hat styles every six months.

Business was good before the hat appeared on one of the most-watched spectacles in recent years. Song smiled as a TV crew trooped in to do an interview.

“Now it’s taken on a life of its own.”

Contact BILL McGRAW at

"Fashions, after all, are only induced epidemics. "

- George Bernard Shaw

No comments: