A recent article in the New York Times Style section asked “Which came first — the bicycle helmet or the caplike fashion visor?” It was a reference to helmet-like caps that topped off many runway looks for fall/winter 2011 and then popped up in the spring collections.
The question was provocative for this reason: Bicycle helmets were being mentioned in the same breath and within the context of high fashion. It’s hard to imagine that having occurred even 5 years ago. Crash protection and couture! It’s a heady mix that fires the imagination. Could the world of couture influence a category as prosaic — until now at least — as protective head gear for cycling? And what influence might it have on helmet use?
Bicycles themselves have undeniably staked their claim in the world of high fashion. Witness the sophisticated New York City shop windows in which Pashley and Linus bikes share the spotlight with luxuriously appointed mannequins.
Designers, such as Fendi, Kate Spade and even Missoni for Target, have styled bicycles with their brands. Fashion’s Night Out in NYC included cycling-themed promotions. Bicycling, as part of healthy, active, green — and stylish — daily living is reflected in countless editorial spreads, ads and special events emanating from the fashion world.
And fortunately, when it comes to helmets, the days when a woman’s choices were limited to those that made us look like racers, skaters or Bobble Heads are behind us. Although manufacturers, both large and small, have come around to creating more stylish and comfortable helmet options, there’s plenty of room for infusion of creativity and innovation in the worlds where safety and style meet.
The Times article on caps concluded, “When fashion intervenes, the options become a lot more interesting.” Even if the day when Hermès or Prada take to their ateliers to create couture helmets remains the realm of fantasy — for now — isn’t it intriguing to think about the possibilities reflected in the designs shown here?
Mad for Hats? Then See This Show
I can’t mention caps and helmets without recommending a show that I saw last week: Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones. If you’re a lover of hats in all their cunning glory, get on your bike and ride up to the Bard Graduate Center in Manhattan. The show includes 250 pieces of head wear — historical, whimsical, over-the-top — including one bicycle helmet, chosen by Mr. Jones, the British milliner. Among the show’s revelations is the cardinal rule of hat-buying, according to the French Fashion editor Geneviève Darinaux: “Take the one you fall in love with, which mysteriously ‘does something’ for you which magically makes you feel more beautiful.”
The exhibit runs through April 15, 2012.
Top photo: burberry