London 2012 Olympics: Hat’s the spirit! Statues get into the party mood
EVEN those with hearts of stone are not immune from the party atmosphere surrounding the Greatest Show on Earth.
A selection of the most iconic statues in London were sporting natty new headwear yesterday as the indominatable spirit of London 2012 spread to historic and military figures from Britain’s past.
The famous statue of Admiral Lord Nelson in Trafalgar Square enjoyed the most striking makeover, with his authoritative bicorn hat sporting a Union flag pattern and an Olympic flame.
His transformation was the highlight of the Hatwalk event, designed to encourage locals and visitors to the capital to research and learn about the sculptures who pepper the city’s streetscapes.
Along with Nelson, 20 statues were given a bold, colourful overhaul to mark the coming of the XXX Games of the Olympiad to London.
John Steele’s celebrated statue of Robert Burns was given a colourful red rose headpiece by a young Scottish milliner, while the likes of Winston Churchill, William Shakespeare and Queen Victoria were also updated for the 21st century.
The project, part of the Cultural Olympian, was the brainchild of London Mayor Boris Johnson. It saw the bespoke hats placed overnight on the statues. A crane was employed in order to fit the new hat to the 169ft Nelson’s Column.
Mr Johnson said the initiative was a way of celebrating the creative millinery industry in Britain. He explained: “Our city is a melting pot of creativity. The cutting-edge style and imagination of London’s millinery talent is fêted worldwide.
Historian Andrew Roberts said the scheme was a “delightfully quirky way” to highlight Britain’s most important historical figures.
He said: “Statues should be an incentive to future achievement, as well as a mark of past services. London is particularly fortunate in its public statuary, and I hope these hats draw everyone’s attention to an often under-appreciated part of our national furniture and cultural heritage.”
The hats were created by 21 esteemed designers, including Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones, as well as emerging talents.
Mr Jones, who is famous for collaborating with Versace and Jean Paul Gaultier, produced a headpiece in the style of Brighton Pavilion for King George IV in Trafalgar Square.
He said: “I am thrilled to be able to showcase British millinery during the year of the Olympics in London.”
He added: “Britain has long been credited as being the centre of the modern millinery world, and these hats are the work of our most celebrated and inspired creators.”
The hats will stay on the statues until Friday and replicas are on public display at BT House in Hyde Park until 12 August.
The hats will be auctioned off later to raise money for the Mayor’s Fund for good causes.
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