03/16/1998 at 01:00 AM EST
Suddenly, nothing's so rare as a naked noggin
Once upon a time, a hat was the crown of the cool sophisticate: Think Fred Astaire's top hat, Jackie Kennedy's pillbox, anything atop Audrey Hepburn. Lately, however, Hollywood headgear has entered a strange new world. Sure, some celebs still go glam—Erykah Badu's African head wrap comes to mind—but others are opting for the deeply, deeply goofy. Take, for example, the Cat in the Hat stovepipe worn by gold medal skier Jonny Moseley in Nagano, or the upside-down flower pot perched on Jamiroquai's Jay Kay. "The whole point of big hats is to make waves," says designer Nabeel Jaber, owner of Lords, an L.A. haberdashery frequented by the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio
and Dennis Rodman. Adds Louise Turner, proprietor of Santa Monica's Fred Segal Hats (where Michelle Pfeiffer and Meg Ryan sometimes shop): "Many celebrities have done everything else with their looks, and this is another way of saying, 'Look at me!' "
Of course, hats can be practical, too. Baywatch's Gena Lee Nolin donned a black fake-fur crusher by La Maison de la Fausse Four-rure for a London movie premiere in November, then wore it to visit family in Minnesota. "It worked fine at 40 below," she says. And there's another benefit: "Hats free you from having to worry about your hair," says Hollywood milliner Drea Kadilak. "You just throw one on and go."
With Steven Cojocaru and Anne-Marie Otey in Los Angeles