The season of playing bumper cars with umbrellas is back — along with an unfortunate reminder that those portable canopies offer exceptionally little shelter from an upwards gust of wind. Mere steps from the front door, and a delicate hairstyle is as good as surrendered to the sky.
But there’s an answer: the fashionable swim cap. Bear with us. These tight, aerodynamic bonnets offer up a surprising amount of warmth and the power to keep coiffures intact.
Emma Corrin is the face of the movement. She stepped out for the 2021 Emmy Awards in a custom Miu Miu cream swim cap fastened under chin, with matching gown and fingerless gloves. She looked androgynous and radiant. Last week, at a Bvlgari party at Kensington Palace, model Iris Law followed suit with silk wrapped overhead for the same face-framing flattery.
Miuccia Prada, Miu Miu’s founder, is known to be partial to the style, first sending the caps in python print down the Prada catwalk circa 2011. But more recently she has been joined by Issey Miyake’s creative director Satoshi Kondo, who used one such hat to open his SS22 digital presentation. “From the onset of creating this collection, I always had an image of a woman wearing a swim cap,” Kondo says of his beige headgear, worn with a coordinating swimsuit top and circular pleated skirt. “It was one of the first items we designed, and found they gave an impression of simplicity and refinement.”
Their transforming minimalism dates back to the roaring Twenties, when head-hugging cloche hats had the same close fit silhouette. Removing the hair, and so simplifying outlines, they worked with the dropped waists and relaxed lines of the flapper girl style which was en vogue at the time. It was a look that raised its head again in the Sixties thanks to Space Age-era designers Pierre Cardin and André Courrèges, and their sleek astronaut-inspired skull caps.
Back to the modern day and Central Saint Martins graduate Chet Lo, who has been playful with his signature spiky knit – beloved by Kylie Jenner and Willow Smith. The style has been worked into cuddly swim caps which made a strong opening for his debut London Fashion Week show. Coming in lilac, candyfloss pink and blue, the result was pop-art meets coral. “You can wear a t-shirt, a pair of jeans and then a spiky cap,” he says. “I can picture the look – it’s adorable.”
Even Cardi B is getting her slice, opting for Richard Quinn’s new green, full flounced bonnets on a trip to Paris Fashion Week. “We added frills and pulled drawstrings tight to frame the face,” the designer says of his staple SS22 headpieces. “It was to make all the models uniform, and to add a protective layer to any outfit.” (Sort of) practical fashion, here we come.
Tempted? There’s a style for any occasion. Best for under umbrellas are from Maison Michel’s ‘Rain On The Go’ collection. These waterproof shell bonnets fold into mini pouches, have chin strings for security and teddy bear ears to add a sweet touch (£225, eraldo.com).
For after-hours, Gucci does them full glitz, covered in pink sequins with a thick strap (£345, gucci.com). Ed Curtis, an upcoming designer who launched a collaboration with Stella McCartney last week, makes them punky, with padded spikes that sprout out (POA, ed-curtis.com). And Zara’s come snug in tan and grey ribbed knit, easy to slip overhead (£14.99, zara.com).
If all the talk of spikes, bear ears, and lilac sounds daunting, fear not. Go for a happy intermediate by replacing chin straps with a longer hood. Find these balaclava-like numbers at & Other Stories (£40, stories.com) and Oliver Bonas (£25, oliverbonas.com) for similar protection. The look maybe a little less Gaga, but you’ll be ready for it to Rain on Me in no time.
The best to buy
Logo-embellished shell bonnet, £225, eraldo.com
Sequin hat with chin strap, £345, gucci.com
Ribbed Knit Hood, £14.99, zara.com
& Other Stories
Wool blend knitted hood, £40, stories.com