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Aretha Franklin (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

The Queen's Crown

by Lee Hill
Jan 22, 2009

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Lee Hill

Interesting tidbit:

Apparently, Barack Obama's speech and Michelle Obama's fine garments aren't the only topics still generating post-inauguration buzz. According to the Associated Press, the designer hat worn by Aretha Franklin, aka the "Queen of Soul," is in high demand.

DETROIT (AP) - The calls began to flood Luke Song's hat shop not long after Aretha Franklin finished belting out "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" at President Barack Obama's inauguration.

Franklin, who wore a gray felt custom-designed hat from Mr. Song Millinery, has inadvertently caused an economic boom for the South Korean immigrant's store.

Song said he wasn't prepared for the hundreds of calls requesting the hat with a Swarovski rhinestone-bordered bow.

"We even have a lot of men calling to get it for their wives, mothers and grandmothers," Song said.

The hat worn by the "Queen of Soul" was hand-molded and would cost upward of $500 - if it were for sale, the 36-year-old designer said. Customers instead were offered a satin ribbon version for $179.

"They want the same hat, but they understand it's for the 'Queen' only," he said. "Ninety-nine percent said, 'That's fine. I'll get the next best thing."'

The family millinery has been in Detroit for about 25 years, and Franklin has been a customer for about 20 of those years. The store also sells to about 500 boutiques across the country.

"We always make hats for her for high-profile events, so for us, the inauguration really was no big deal," Song told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The design for Franklin's hat came from two different hats at the store.

"She walked through the shop and said 'I want that bow (put) on that hat,"' he said. "She had the coat already, but she needed the hat to set it off."

Witnesses to Tuesday's swearing-in might also be surprised to know that the queen was not pleased with her performance of "My Country Tis of Thee." At least, that's what she told CNN's Larry King.

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