The start of the social season is upon us and with that comes a summer of endless parties, champagne and of course, hats galore.

To mark the occasion in what is a cruise industry first, Cunard has collaborated with legendary milliner Stephen Jones OBE on a one-of-a-kind hat inspired by the luxury cruise line’s rich royal heritage and the emotive feelings guests have when they make its iconic Atlantic crossing.

Unveiled yesterday on Cunard’s flagship ship, Queen Mary 2, the hat’s ornate design has been based on a regal crown to represent Cunard’s historic royal connection. The cruise line has a long-standing relationship with the British royal family, which has travelled extensively with Cunard over the last 179 years. HRH The Queen is godmother to two of the three ships in its current fleet, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary 2.

As well as representing royalty, the hat’s feather motif symbolises Cunard’s 179-year-old logo, which is based on a laurel wreath, while the netting and stones epitomise the glistening Atlantic ocean, as Jones was keen to draw on Cunard’s history in ocean travel.

Stephen Jones and Cunard partner on millinery masterpiece

“I wanted to design something that was strong and bold – yet elegant and regal, like a crown,” he explains.

“The hat is a nod to the beauty of the sea, but also the glamour of ocean travel that Cunard epitomises. The look and feel is modern and contemporary and could be for the British Social Season. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing the hat being worn at Gold Cup Day, Royal Ascot in a few weeks’ time.”

The maestro hat designer’s distinguished career has seen him design hats for several members of the royal family, including Princess Diana, Princess Eugenie and the Duchess of Sussex, and he was awarded an OBE in 2010 for his services to millinery.

As such, the partnership between Jones and Cunard is a match made in heaven. Cunard has been involved in many cultural collaborations in the past, last year having teamed up with the English National Ballet.

Commenting on the latest collaboration, Lee Powell, Cunard’s vice president of brand & product, said: “The Transatlantic Crossing is our most iconic and treasured way for guests to experience sailing with Cunard on the Queen Mary 2, and to see this brought to life through this stunning design, by one the most respected milliners of our generation, in such an innovative and interesting way, is wonderful.”

He continues: “Cunard has long been synonymous with style and similarly fashion has always been a real passion of our guests from across the world. We celebrate this every year with our unique Transatlantic Fashion Week and this July, with hats being the perfect expression of individual style, we can’t wait to welcome Stephen and his stunning collection on board, for what will be a truly incredible experience for our guests as they sail across the Atlantic.”

Jones will headline Cunard’s annual Transatlantic Fashion Week cruise, which departs fashion capital New York on the 28 July and arrives in Southampton a week later. The headpiece will form part of his runway shows on board.

During the voyage, the milliner will take guests through his career via a series of talks and Q&As. To cap off the fashion week cruise, other celebrated names in the industry, including Stuart Weitzman, Hilary Alexander OBE and Lindy Woodhead, will also join guests on board.

For more information, visit cunard.com.