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Spring fashion: Easter bonnets? Add to ...

Is the Easter bonnet back?

Once the crowning glory of stylish ensembles, hats took a hit in the sixties and never fully recovered. But if the runways are any indication, the topper may soon be tops again.

Hats in all shapes, fabrications and colours dominated the spring collections of such designers as John Galliano, Michael Kors and Oscar de la Renta. And at KC's Hats in Toronto, milliner David Dunkley says hats are hot.

"I sold 20 Easter bonnets last weekend alone," said Dunkley, who is admittedly using the term "bonnet" loosely. He specializes in "fascinators," feathery fantasias attached to the hair with a clip, comb or headband.

Fascinators, Dunkley explained, are "fascinating pieces of art made of feathers, fabric, straw and anything else a milliner can imagine using. They're the new cocktail hats, made to be worn indoors, after dark."

Women are also wearing them instead of wedding veils, and as jewellery for the head. "They are smaller and lighter than a hat," Dunkley continued. "A woman can wear them to embellish her head without covering up an exquisite hairdo."

Dunkley notes that a whole new generation of young women are rediscovering hats, inspired by celebrities such as Nicole Richie, Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears.

"Britney loves hats, and every time she wears one, I always get young women coming into my store asking me to make one just like hers," Dunkley said.

Having just returned from England, where he studied with Rose Cory, milliner to the late Queen Mother, Dunkley is busy creating hats for society clients who wear them to the races at Ascot and at the Queen's Plate in Toronto in June.

His hats range from boaters and classic wide-brim sun hats to runway-ready creations sporting such materials as cork, vintage linen and silk flowers. Dunkley also does special-occasion hats for weddings, bar mitzvahs and intimate encounters. "I have cocktail hats with dyed birdcage veiling that cover the face for a hint of mystery," Dunkley said. "I make them for women, but men just love them."

Toronto jeweller Joanna Sipos concurs. She says that every time she wears a Dunkley hat, she gets picked up: "They frame the face," she said. "They give a woman instant allure."

Dunkley's hats cost $125 and up. Call 416-538-0998 or visit http://www.kcshats.com.

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