Fedora hats were first seen as a feminine hat with masculine undertones in 1883, inspired by a drama called “Fédora,” created by the French playwright Victorien Sardou.
Sarah Bernhardt, a French Actress, played the star role of Princess Fédora Romanoff who was wearing a stylish, center-creased, soft brimmed hat. Sarah was known for adopting men’s fashion and acting roles that shocked audiences.
The play’s first review named the style of Bernhardt’s hat “fedora” after the play title. This review coined the name “Fedora Hat” into womenswear of the time, and later menswear too. Soon after, fedora hats became a popular fashion statement and symbol for women’s rights activists, standing for liberation and assertiveness. Before long, the fedora style spread to all women and fashion-forward men like Oscar Wilde and Prince Edward VIII.
In 1924, Prince Edward VIII wore his fedora Hat to the United States and dressed it up with a suit instead of everyday dress. The style was seen on stars like Humphrey Bogart and the infamous Gangster Al Capone. In the 1940’s and 50’s, cinema helped to create the iconic symbol of manliness and mystery with fedora hats worn by Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra and even football coaches Paul Bear Bryant and Tom Landry. The fedora later resurfaced onscreen in the 70’s and was styled as edgy and unique, yet still practical as seen on Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. Most recently, fedoras have made their existence known on shows like Mad Men and Peaky Blinders.