Last weekend we saw a young woman holding a parasol above her head as she enjoyed brunch at a sun-soaked sidewalk cafe. As you can see, this was not an umbrella—this was a straight up decorative and sun-blocking parasol, lace trim and all. Our inner NY Times Style editor wondered, "Is this a new trend? Are parasols back in?"
At this time it's important to point out that this was in Brooklyn. THE Brooklyn, where worldwide trends like The Monocle begin and begin again, even if they are not real.
While the NY Times isn't ON IT yet, our style forecasting machine tells us they will be, eventually. Parasols haven't been big in ages, but when they were, the Grey Lady had a lot to say about them—below some of the many, many, many parasol pieces from the Paper of Record's deep archives.
1883. In a short humor piece, the dangers of the parasol are addressed: "There was never a woman under the sun that knew how to carry a parasol without scratching a fellow's eyes out."
1890. On the new styles of parasols: "The green of the leaves, the blue of the sky, the flowers and grasses make parasols seem to belong more to the domain of nature than of fashion. Some of them would appear to have been designed for the special use of the goddess Flora herself."
1892. This one focuses on a more gripping style change: "If there is one thing prettier than another about the new parasols it is the handles."
1903. All black parasols, totally IN.
1904. Parasols are the perfect gift: "Parasols are infinitely more worth while than gifts of flowers, and the flowers are there anyway, handpainted on white silk as natural as life and nearly as large."
1908. Japanse parasol trend alert issued: "Although the real Japanese parasol of paper has not been declared in fashion, no one would be surprised to see it very popular by July."
1910. Embroidered parasols are IN: "Parasols of embroidered linen are popular. They are only suitable for carrying with linen or cotton frocks, so do not put much work upon them."
1918. Uh oh, are parasols on their way OUT?: "Parasols have not been actively sought throughout the entire country."
1924. False alarm, parasols are super IN, and have been given a style upgrade: "The new parasol is extreme in shape, with a short, thick stick, and suggests anything rather than comfort in carrying."
1925. The '20s were a strange time: "Parasols and furs! A picturesque combination in the fashionable summer outfit."
1926. Like, really strange: "Flappers, constantly on the lookout for something startling, have blossomed out with chicken-feathered parasols dyed in colors so brilliant that for less fortunate pedestrians the glare is worse than that of the sun."
Aside from a few courtesy mentions, the parasol sort of disappeared from the style pages in the 1930s, but returned the following decade.
1949. IN again: "The parasol has an important place as a fashion accessory in a woman's wardobe this year."
1977. Parasols, still got it: "Old-fashioned, feminine, romantic perhaps so. But the women carrying parasols these days and there are an increasing number of them are doing so for quite different reasons."
1989. The return of the parasol: "The sun umbrella is making a modest comeback, along with sheltering—and flirty—accessories like wide-brimmed hats, fans and gloves, merchants in New York say."
2005. A retailer wonders why the parasol is not back in fashion: "Unfazed by the notion that parasols seem to be a surreal accessory in the frantic landscape of New York, she is moved by the parasol's romance, like the image of a woman she once saw in Greenwich Village wearing all black and carrying a red parasol."
They were never really mentioned again... but perhaps this photo of Paris Hilton posturing with one sort of took the romance out of them.