Kate tips patriotic cap to Canada with fashionable maple leaf fascinator

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TORONTO - Kate's salute to Canada's birthday? Call it a tip of the hat.

The Duchess of Cambridge, the latest in a long line of royal women who enjoy sporting buzz-worthy headgear, didn't disappoint Friday when she showed up sporting a fashionable fascinator with a distinctively Canadian flair.

Awash in rich red and adorned with fabric maple leaves, Kate's fascinator — Oxford defines the word as "a woman's light, decorative headpiece ... attached to a comb or hair clip," as well as, fittingly, "one that fascinates" — was perched on the right side of her head.

Keeping with the Canadian theme of the ensemble, she also wore red heels and a cream Reiss dress — the white part of her red-and-white motif — affixed with the Queen's glittering diamond Maple Leaf brooch.

While the topper had a homegrown feel, it was created by a U.K.-based milliner, Sylvia Fletcher at Lock and Co.

"A typical hat is blocked to fit the full head, whereas a fascinator is more of an accent hat," said Toronto-based milliner Blair Nadeau, who specializes in fascinators.

"It can be worn on a headband, it can be worn on little clips or combs, and the taller it is, the wider it is, the more fantastical it is."

Nadeau, who has been designing millinery for a little more than three years, said a fascinator offers a designer a much broader creative tableau than a plain old hat.

"You can just sculpt and you can build and you can add, and you can keep adding to it until it just becomes this fantastic piece of hair art."

Nadeau, who hails from London, Ont., and designs for Blair Nadeau Millinery, said Kate has a very definitive style when it comes to her hat choices.

"It's very sophisticated, but yet still a little bit on the edgy side," he said. "It still pushes that limit a little bit, but she doesn't go crazy with her hats."

Nadeau said Kate's Canada Day headpiece is very much in line with her earlier looks.

"It's very beautifully made, it's very simple, but it definitely packs a punch and it definitely makes a statement."

Womenswear designer David Dixon, another of Canada's homegrown style talents, admitted that he, too, is a fascinator fan.

"Her fascinator is tasteful and fun," Dixon said in an email to The Canadian Press. "A perfect blend of English tradition and the Canadian approachability."

Kate's Canuck-inspired headpiece was well at home on Parliament Hill, where amid the throngs gathered for Canada festivities, there were plenty of patriotic hats in the mix, from red baseball caps to hats in the shape of the Maple Leaf.

Indeed, hers was far from the most eyebrow-raising.

One woman was spotted sporting a tribute topper in the shape of the Parliament buildings, fashioned from magazine covers graced by Kate and Prince William. The Cat in the Hat's preferred headgear style was also popular — in Canadian colours, of course.

Nadeau said hats are typically the focal point of a garment.

"When you a walk into a room, that's the first thing that people notice," she said.

"I think that (Kate) did keep the rest of her garment simple," she added. "The dress is just a beautiful, full-sleeved white dress, and she's really just making that statement... and she's doing it in such an elegant way."

Geographic location: Canada

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