Aretha’s Hat

Aretha’s Hat

Milliner Luke Song designed the Queen of Soul's inaugural hat. The style has been flying off the shelves since her performance. (Detroit Free Press)

Aretha Franklin’s bow-tied, gift-wrapped, jewel-studded, $179 inaugural hat was designed, produced and sold to the Queen of Soul by Mr. Song Millinery, a family-owned business in Detroit. Starting minutes after Franklin finished her distinctive rendition of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” at Pres. Obama’s inauguration, the store’s phones started ringing. By the next afternoon, Mr. Song had sold hundreds of hats. A store in Dallas had sold 500 more, and the material was running out.

“People are calling from England, asking for the hat,” said Luke Song, who designed Franklin’s chapeau, and divulges his inspirations. “I’m shocked. I had no idea. We did not expect this.”

The hat has gone crazy in the media and cyberspace. Everyone from Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” to the women on “The View” talked about it. Stewart poked fun at it; the women seemed more appreciative. On “The Ellen Show,” host Ellen DeGeneres wore an exaggerated hat similar to Franklin’s. People have created dozens of Web sites devoted to the hat, and even a Facebook group was created in its honor.

CHANNEL: Detroit Free Press (

Length: 1:45

Video by Alexandra Bahou