Denver milliner Susan Dillon makes chapeaus fit for a queen. The Queen.

There are a few places where women without hats would seem dangerously close to naked: a Baptist church, the Kentucky Derby and Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee celebration. And for a hat to appear in conjunction with the latter -- the Queen, in her sixtieth year of Queendom, is known for her elegant headwear -- is possibly the highest point in the millinery world.

For a lucky few, that would include winning a prize in an international Diamond Jubilee hat-making competition, including a People's Choice award determined by online voting that began last Friday and ends on May 11. All winning entries will be displayed in a Diamond Jubilee Exhibition at London's Hat Works millinery museum; the first-prize winner also gets an all expense-paid five-day millinery masterclass in a French chateau. Ooh la la!

Needless to say, Denver hat-maker (and Westword Best of Denver awardee) Susan Dillon of Kittie Mae Millinery wouldn't mind a bit of that. So Dillon took the leap and entered a Union Jack-inspired fascinator lid of patterned navy blue-and-white silk ikat dupioni with a pale pink-colored silk embellishment and white feathers, all folded and trimmed into echoing diamond shapes.

"The British love their hats, and the Queen is no exception," Dillon says. "But millinery is a relatively unknown and under-appreciated art form and fashion statement here in the United States. Hopefully, competitions like this will give those of us hat makers in areas not known for millinery a chance to have our work seen and appreciated by a worldwide audience." 

Dillon is currently doing quite well in the public voting: hovering in the top five. But she needs more votes to keep afloat and is calling on the community to help her put Denver on the millinery map. To place a vote visit Dillon's online entry page -- you can only vote once, so that's easy enough. Hats off to Susan Dillon!

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