Haute Headgear: 'Of The Shadows' by Noel Stewart

The art of millinery has always been a tricky one, very few designers daring to create hats that teeter on the line between beautiful and absurd. But London-based designer Noel Stewart has elevated the modernity and elegance of hats with his newest collection, "Of The Shadows".

Stewart's head-topping designs have received international acclaim in recent years, as he has challenged the status quo of hats in each of his collections. Most recently, the designer was appointed the creative director of Christy and Co., after designing hats for a string of well-known designers including Marc Jacobs and Viktor & Rolf.

But let’s take a look at the hats coming out of Stewart’s studio at the moment. His new collection employs Stewart's handcrafted technique combined with the inclusion of luxurious materials such as leather and pony hair. The series of caps have collectively been titled “Of The Shadow”, as each headpiece has a dark and mysterious aura to it. Stewart takes a bold approach to classic hat shapes such as a chauffer cap with a bright blue sash on it.

Two pieces really stand out from the collection, both of which are a testament to why Stewart has received such praise for his designs. The first is a limited edition and cyanotype brimmed hat. The oversized and wide brimmed hat is a deep black leather, with a cloud-like print on the underside - making the hat feel like a beautiful nightmare. The matching men’s hat is a leather cyanotype police cap, a lot more whimsical than the female counterpart. The second, is fine mesh balaclava. This style of headgear has recently shown up in subcultures around major cities and is slowly making its way to the runways - but what sets this balaclava apart is the huge, cube crystals adorning the sides.