Dressing for Tall Ships Sunderland — the Tall Ships Hat and the Belle Poule Pouf

The Sunderland Tall Ships Festival is projected to attract m ore than 1.5 million people next July. For those of us lying awake at night wondering what we should wear to the event, designer Kathryn Russell has at least one possible answer. She has designed an ensemble for a young lady featuring a unique Tall Ships dress, complete with its very own ship’s hat, set on a sea of “waves.”

SunFM describes the outfit: “The hand-stitched bodice has been worked to resemble ships’ rigging, with a gold thread galleon stitched under the net skirt, while the jacket has a hand embroidered ships wheel on the back.

OK, the dressing up is a bit over the top, if intentionally so. Nevertheless, it is completely tame compared to styles of the past. One flamboyant hairstyle attributed, perhaps apocryphally, to the court of Marie Antoinette was the Belle-Poule, which has been described as:

Another incredible creation consisted of a ship sailing on a sea of thick, wavy hair. It was invented after the naval battle in which the frigate, La Belle Poule, was victorious. The ship itself, with its masts, rigging, and guns, was imitated in miniature on the pouf. This elaborate creation, a celebration of sorts, was an overnight success. It should be noted, however, that many such coifs were supported with wired scaffolding and were very heavy. Also, seldom washed and making sleep difficult, these powdered concoctions were commonly breeding grounds for all types of vermin.

So, at least compared to the Coiffure à la Belle-Poule, the Sunderland Tall Ships Hat seems the soul of moderation, unless there is a breeze blowing.

To learn more about Tall Ships Sunderland, click here.

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