Alessandro Michele’s Modern Cowboy Hat Makeover is Beautiful Strange

Gucci models wearing cowboy hats walk the runway in Los Angeles

Modern cowboy hat shapes made a strange appearance in an unexpected place: the dream-soaked streets of La La Land. 

A phalanx of models and iconic modern celebrities including Macaulay Culkin and Jared Leto strolled down Hollywood Boulevard. They wore beautiful strange rodeo wear, remixed with black and neutral color modern cowboy hats with traditional wide, curved brims and silver-screen worshiping black tie for Gucci’s latest spring runway show. These are nothing like the pink cowboy hat Lil Nas X wore.

The aptly named Gucci Love Parade was Italian designer Alessandro Michele’s triumph. “It’s a dream come true, a huge, great, immense feeling for me,” Michele told Vogue after the show. 

“More strange,” Michele murmured. In the days before the show, he worked to create the best styles for his nocturnal Hollywood runway as reported on 60 Minutes.

Michele loves strange.

He loves unexpected. Hell, he even loves ugly. “I love to be open to the things that make me feel like, ‘Oh, my gosh. What is this?’ and I start to play with these kinds of things. I like the ugly things.”

The unstoppable Gucci Creative Director finds inspiration everywhere. He walks through the 600-year-old palazzos of Rome. And the ancient architecture and Bernini sculpted fountains thrill him as much as the socks-and-sandals tourists. The beautiful, the strange, and the ugly. His runway collections become a mirror reflecting that strangely beautiful inspiration. 

Modern Cowboy Hat Shapes

For the Gucci spring 2022 collection, Michele became an alchemist. He combined cinematic gowns, futuristic sunglasses, nose jewelry inspired by sex toys, and classic cattleman felt cowboy hats with a twist. These modern cowboy hats have a shorter, tapered crown, a deeper crease and much tighter pinches than a Stetson. These hat shapes are entirely unique, unlike the more common cool cowboy hats we typically see on famous heads. These hats look like they custom steam shaped for Gucci.

Supermodels strutted down the sidewalk-turned-catwalk proving that couture can live in dazzling harmony with modern cowboy hats. But make sure it’s straw, not felt. And trade in your boots for a beautifully strange, nose jewelry accessory.

“Now when you think to Gucci, you think that you can look beautiful in different ways, you know?,” explained Michele. “And that’s something, I think, very powerful for everybody. Because in the past, I mean, fashion was just one way.”

Models walks the runway wearing modern cowboy hats during Gucci Love Parade
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Models walks the runway wearing gus (center) style and cattleman crease wool cowboy hats during Gucci Love Parade on November 02, 2021. (Photos by Emma McIntyre and Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Gucci)

According to Gucci’s latest aesthetic, the cowboy hat should be made from felt. He used no straw hats. He also stuck with a more modern cowboy hat shape. And he paired them with fuschia silk jumpsuits, high-impact prints, black tie tuxedos, holographic bead work, and feather boas.

The whole effect was unexpected, chic, and ultimately so damn cool. “I was thinking about everybody [when designing for Gucci]. Because fashion is really for everybody,” assured Michele. There you go, cowboys and cowgirls: you have Alessandro Michele’s expressed permission.

Don’t pair a Gucci cowboy hat with western denim and dusty bandanas. Wear it with whatever you want. But dial up the maximalist fun and strangely beautiful vibes. 

Models walks the runway wearing cowboy hats during Gucci Love Parade on November 02, 2021.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Models walks the runway wearing cowboy hats during Gucci Love Parade on November 02, 2021. (Photos by Emma McIntyre and Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Gucci)

Futuristic Cowboy Hats

Gucci’s show felt especially special thanks to it’s format: live! In-person! Not virtual!

After two straight years of streaming runway shows and presentations, Michele’s stylish LA moment was a return to the pre-COVID fashion shows. It was a party, but a strange one, with the boulevard deserted of the tourists and grifters who populate the scene. A hopeful and optimistic event after a globally dark period in time.

What a perfect way to hope for a return to normalcy. By having a classic Italian brand embrace Hollywood glamour and American optimism. He did it by shaping his modern cowboy hat with a shorter crown, fat silk ribbon hat band and an unusually deep Cattleman crease. 

The Gucci show wasn’t the first to offer this modern cowboy hat glam look. The whole world has been galloping towards a return to wild west optimism. But he combined that with the maximalist aesthetic of rodeo stars in wool cowboy headwear.

Dua Lipa with dancers wearing cowboy hats while shooting her \'Love Again\' music video
Singer Dua Lipa with back-up dancers wearing cowboy hats while shooting her \’Love Again\’ music video (Photo courtesy

Popular Cowboy Hat Styles

Dua Lipa kicked off the rancher renaissance in June with her Love Again music video. The singer/model and her band co-star in the video with a proper bull rider crease cowboy hat floating through a glittery ballroom. It features two-stepping back-up dancers in rodeo clown makeup.

They’re wearing Resistol bull rider and flat crown, flat brim gambler style felt cowboy hats, and pieces from the exquisite Levi’s x Miu Miu collab. Dua Lipa rides a mechanical bull in a black straw cowboy hat. She also stands out dancing in a fitted matte black version of J.Lo’s leather cowboy hat.

There’s even a wide brim white fedora sighting to lend an air of mystery.

Then came global superstars BTS with their entry for song of the summer Permission to Dance. The seven-member idol group from South Korea went full rodeo style. They don fringe, bolo ties, huge belt buckles, dusty denim, leather chaps, and some wore modern cowboy hats.

I call them modern Western hats because they’re unlike and Stetson or Resistol I’ve seen before. These hats were probably handmade just for the video. One is a Biggs without a pinch, and the other has a tear shaped crown with a telescope Stetson. The video, shot in the desert sun, has 388+ million views. It features a bubble-gum chorus that is impossible not to fall in love with. 

BTS wears cowboy hats and denim while shooting their \'Permission to Dance\' music video
BTS wears cowboy hats and denim while shooting their \’Permission to Dance\’ music video (Photo courtesy of Hybe)

High-End Cowboy Hats

Next came Beyoncé. The western wear style trend was trotting along. And Beyoncé’s summer drop for her Ivy Park x Adidas line brought it to a full gallop. The 58-piece rodeo-themed collection included denim corsets, cow-print activewear, fringed face masks, and of course a teardrop cowboy hat with embroidered Adidas stripes

Beyonce wears a cowboy hat while modeling Ivy Park Rodeo for Adidas
Beyonce wears a cowboy hat while modeling Ivy Park Rodeo, the fourth Ivy Park collection for Adidas (Photo courtesy of Adidas)

While Beyoncé was researching Black cowboys and cowgirls of the old west, her husband JAY-Z was also learning about the same often forgotten legends. The rapper/mogul served as a producer for the recent Netflix western The Harder They Fall. 

Real Cowboy Hats is a visionary film from writer/director Jeymes Samuel. It stars Jonathan Majors, Regina King, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz and LaKeith Stanfield. To write the Western, Samuel researched actual Black men and women who lived through the era. He remixed them to be in the same time, same place, and same story.

The Harder They Fall will pull something into our culture that has been missing forever. Every character in this film is based on a character that really existed,” Samuel explained. “I just assembled them like Black Gods, and put them in one space at one time.”

The people are real, but heightened, glamorized and remixed in the same way the costumes from the film are. Costume Designer Antoinette Messam started with the classic tropes of Western wear. The denim, the leather, the bandanas, the cowboy hats. But she gave them new, heightened western style makeovers. “I grew up on Westerns. My father loved Westerns.

I pulled references for those that have had an influence and inspired me,” said Messam. Top hats, a black homburg hat with a pencil curl brim, jewel-toned corsets and velvet suits are paired with traditional tall crown Stetson style cowboy hats. And this elevates the Western look.

The Hat Stops Here

It’s high (noon) time we brought the best modern cowboy hats out of the ranch and into the party! Why not? We’ve spent too long dressing for utilitarian purposes—for work, for comfort, but not for fun. Let’s do it, partner. The new way to wear the modern cowboy hat is bold, sexy, and unexpected. Pair your favorite curved brim Stetson with velvet bow tie or a cocktail dress as sparkling as your champagne. Because according to Gucci, BTS, Beyoncé, and all the other global tastemakers: cowboy hats are the new party hats. 

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