Having been regarded as an icon of French fashion, French berets is not just simple accessories made of felted wool or other materials. Read more to dig hidden stories that were sealed into history.
Noah’s Ark — the Legendary Birthplace of French Berets
People tend to reference the earliest idea of French berets from Bible rather than believing the French’s claiming all credit for creating berets. Legend unfolds in a chaos and noisy occasion. When he was bobbing with his animals on the ark, Noah noticed that trampled wool on the floor had transformed to felt. For the purpose of keeping his hair dry, he cut a piece of trampled felt and shoved it on his head. Then the first beret born.
Starting from Shepherds
In retrospect to modern times, invention of berets should be owed to the 17th century shepherds in French. All people in French regions of Béarn, Basque, and French Pyrenees had contributed to popularization of berets. When observing optimum performances of wool in winter, people decided to reap the benefits themselves, stuffing shoes with soft wool. It had also been proved that wool performs well in keeping warm. Three factors have accelerated forming of felt, such as force of walking on the wool all day, moisture from ground, perspiration from feet, etc. Then, the process has been replaced with the technique of compression. Nevertheless, their predominant talents didn’t rest on sewing hats. What’s more, felt compressed with feet is involved in unpleasant smell. It’s the reason why fashion connaisseurs tool over.
Prior to occupy center fashion stage, berets were adopted by Parisian artists as their signature style. Especially from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s, the once common accessories turned to staple of artists, such as Monet, Cezanne, Marie Laurencin, Picasso, and many others. There are different remarks about the special trend. Some say that artists intended to imitate styles of great masters of the Renaissance; some intends to hold that most artists are poor in the era, and they had to choose cheap headgear to keep their heads warm.
Prestige Among Troops
The French Army Chasseurs Alpins, elite mountain infantry, was often trained in treacherous mountainous areas. And floppy French berets topped on soldiers’ heads proudly from 1889. One will find the reason of berets being adopted as military headpieces if you date back to the World War I. Ahead of introducing berets, the British general, leader of a newly formed tank regiment, had perfect answers to the problem: almost all soldiers hats would be knocked off when they climb through small hatches of tanks.
Berets — Symbol of French Rebellion
During the World War II, berets were regarded as an attitude of resistance against the Nazi German occupation. Here, I would like to share a story about how the signature hat became the symbol of French resistance. When German police marched onto France, one person among troops is his friend. He recognized that man only by his hat.