Bringing to mind dandies and conjurer’s tricks, this is a hat (from which rabbits have been know to spring) that is the perfect accessory for any character, real or imaginary
The top hat is a tall flat-crowned hat for gentlemen with a wide brim and a band in a dark colour.
It was the height of male fashion in the period which went from the end of the 18th and early 20th century while nowadays, it adds a touch of class to a morning dress or frock coat whereas it is not at all recommended with a tuxedo.
The first top hats were first made – to the horror of animal lovers – using felt from the fur of heavers, but later on they were made of silk. One of the most celebrated models has to be the stovepipe hat (an even taller version where the crown was practically straight) which is often seen in images featuring Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth President of the United States of America.
In the mid-twentieth century, the top hat began to go out of fashion with the middle classes who had moved on to bowler hats or soft felt Fedoras, both of which were more practical for city life.
Not to mention the fact that they could be mass produced. A good top hat, in fact, still has to be made by an experienced hatter and after the First World War, most of the western world converted to industrial production of the majority of everyday articles.
Politics too turned its back on this kind of status symbol, even though in the first half of the twentieth century this headgear of a previous age continued to be popular in countries such as the newly formed Soviet Union and Japan.
That is why, in the past as in the present day, anyone who wears an original hat like this is flaunting either their dandyism or their considerable wealth.
In 2020 the top hat tends to be seen among certain sections of the population (usually artists, musicians, magicians and trendsetters) and more affordable versions can be found in the style of the old stovepipe. Straight up without the modelling at the sides seeing as how turning the brim up properly would push up the price as well.
Some celebrated testimonials of the top hat have been: the musical actor Fred Astaire, singer and inventor of shock rock Alice Cooper, musician and jazz composer Duke Ellington, comedian and illusionist Jerry Sadowitz, the guitarist of Guns N’ Roses Slash and Harpo Marx, one of the unforgettable Marx Brothers.
Some of the imaginary characters who wore it included Uncle Sam (the personification of the United States of America), Scrooge McDuck (the Disney character created by Carl Barks) and the Penguin, sworn enemy of Batman.
Last but not least, there is the Mad Hatter made famous by the book Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, the beguiling Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Mandrake, the comic book character created by Lee Falk and Phil Davis. And as chance would have it, Mandrake just happened to be a charming magician…