Aretha, Baby, Where Did You Get That Hat?

Aretha Franklin performed at the inauguration on Tuesday. [Photo by Ron Edmonds/Associated Press/NYT]Aretha Franklin was so cool at the Inauguration that everyone immediately forgot about the Rev. Rick Warner. How could a cheesy TV evangelist hold a anyone’s attention after the Queen of Soul walked on stage in that hat?  Then she sang “My Country, Tis Of Thee” and blasted it into the stratosphere. She may not have the vocal range of her youth, but she’s still got the sass and audacity.

“I know Barack Obama is about to become the most powerful man in the world,” Brendan said when the song ended, “but he has to be thinking, ‘Wow, that’s Aretha Franklin singing for me – and all of us!’”

So if you wanted to know where to get her headgear, NYT’s The Caucus Blog has the fashionista back story.

While the fashion-conscious were focused on Michelle Obama on Inauguration Day, it was Aretha Franklin who pulled off the most unexpected sartorial coup.

Few people covered their heads that day, despite the cold. But the Queen of Soul did. She reached back to her gospel roots and adorned herself as if for church, topping her outfit with a dove-gray wool chapeau, dominated by a giant bow set off at a jaunty angle and ringed in sparkling Swarovski crystals.

The hat was an instant sensation. Even before Ms. Franklin had finished singing “My Country, Tis of Thee” on the inaugural podium, calls began pouring in to her hat designer, Luke Song, 36, of Mr. Song Millinery in Detroit, Ms. Franklin’s home town.

“A lot of my clients know my signature style, and they knew instantly that it was my hat,” Mr. Song said in a telephone interview Friday. “They called to verify it, and then they just started screaming at the top of their lungs.”

Asked to define that style, he said he couldn’t quite put it in words, except to say that he liked hats that “frame the face.”

The calls overwhelmed him, he said, and before long there were reporters asking for interviews as word of the hat went viral. It was still a current topic on television three days after the inaugural, discussed on “The View” and mocked by Jon Stewart and Ellen DeGeneres.

And Mr. Song has been flooded with hat orders, creating an instant backlog of three to four weeks.

…“Her particular hat, I will not sell a copy, even if someone offers me a million dollars,” he said. “I have to keep it exclusive to her. I made it for her.” Read more

About the image: Aretha Franklin performed at the inauguration on Tuesday. [Photo by Ron Edmonds/Associated Press/NYT]. Check out Aretha’s 1998 stand-in for Pavarotti at the Academy Awards.

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One Response to Aretha, Baby, Where Did You Get That Hat?

  1. Mark Willis says:

    According to NPR’s Morning Edition:

    Aretha Franklin has recorded a new, improved version of My Country ‘Tis of Thee. Millions teared up on Inauguration Day as “the queen of soul” belted out an emotion-filled anthem on the U.S. Capitol steps. Franklin says the freezing cold meant her voice wasn’t the best.

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