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150 Years of Hats, 1810-1960

DATES April 05, 1960 through July 15, 1960
ORGANIZING DEPARTMENT Costumes and Textiles
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  • March 9, 1960 The “Second Empire Collection” of Summer millinery fashions will be presented by the famed couturier-milliner, Mr. John, at the Brooklyn Museum on Monday, April 4 at 1:30 p.m. The event, sponsored by the Community Committee, is presented in conjunction with the opening of the Museum’s exhibition of 150 YEARS OF HATS, original models of millinery through the years, beginning with a sprigged mull bonnet of 1798.

    The afternoon program, which is free to members of the Brooklyn Museum and $1.50 for non-members, will begin with a fashion parade of some of the great hats of the past, displayed in the Brooklyn showing by models dressed in period clothes. Mr. Robert Riley, consultant to the Museum’s Design Laboratory, will present the unique collection.

    Mrs. Arthur Lapovsky, Chairman of membership for the Community Committee has arranged a reception following the show. Arrangements for the colorful program are coordinated by co-chairmen Mrs. E. Vincent Curtayne, Mrs. Jack Schneider and Mrs. Aaron Moldover. Mrs. Samuel Berke, another active member of the Brooklyn Museum’s Community Committee, is in charge of models.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1953 - 1970. 1960, 019.
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  • March 23, 1960 A rare exhibition which is as sentimental and reminiscent as it is educational and historical opens at the Brooklyn Museum on April 5th with the showing of 150 YEARS OF HATS. Robert Riley, Director of the Museum’s Industrial Research Division, assembled this unique exhibition which features original hats created by world famous designers of past and present millinery art.

    In conceiving the Exhibition, Mr. Riley stated that “a show like this will have some pleasant or amusing result for everyone whether it is the period of the Roaring Twenties, the turn-of-the-century or the elegance of the years pictured in family albums.” In addition to its wide popular appeal, Mr. Riley points out that “it is our purpose to show the development and trends in millinery design over the years, not only as a provocative art form, but as a social study.”

    The hats are all originals which through careful handling and sheer good luck, have been very well preserved. They cover practically every shape which was popular over the 150 year period, all peak examples of high fashion millinery from an embroidered mull bonnet of 1798 to the l948 black patent leather padre hat of Balenciaga, created for the best dressed men, women and children in their time. There are women’s morning hats, visiting hats, gardening and afternoon hats, evening and opera hats. And for the men there is a straw topper of 1820, an l840 beaver hat, a police roundsman hat of 1890, a Union soldier’s dress cap, the straw cap worn by small boys from l840 to 1870, and the ubiquitous 1870 brown derby.

    To highlight the trends in design the Exhibition shows that small bonnets complemented the “bell” silhouettes and crinoline styles, and that massive millinery creations topped the slim silhouette fashions. Mr. Riley comments “until recent years, dressmakers followed the lead of the millinery designers who established the fashion trends with their choice of fabrics and colors. The names given many of these hats by the designers have both romantic and practical associations. Consider the names ‘Merry Widow’ and 'Gainsborough’, and those hats that were known as the coal scuttle, sugar loaf, the Kate Greenaway and the Floradora.”

    Walking through the Exhibition visitors will also find an old lace nostalgia in the colors: ashes of roses, wistaria, hyacinthine and heliotrope. And the names of famous French milliners are identified with some of their original creations. The world-renowned Caroline Reboux is represented by one of her opera hats of the year 1896, a charming confection with a pink straw dome surrounded with pink ribbon and trimmed in black lace. In contrast is a bold chapeau of the "moderne" 20’s, when Reboux was the great vogue. She set the trend of austerity by ruling out trimmings and ornaments and featuring a simplicity that was revolutionary in the fashion world.

    Suzanne Talbot, the designer noted for her youthful and startling “off-the-face” creations and little pompadour hats is another French designer whose art is featured. Agnès, the noted creator of the helmet hat of the 30’s, and her contemporary, Suzy, who started a fashion craze with “little doll hats”, are a few of the great names whose fashion-setters are displayed in the Exhibition.

    The hats on display were selected from the extensive collection of the Brooklyn Museum’s Design Laboratory, the important center for students and designers seeking ideas and inspiration for future fashions. In addition to the hats the laboratory maintains fabulous clothes and other accessories which were donated through the years for study. The success of the laboratory is illustrated by the interest of student groups from design schools and colleges throughout the United States and Canada who have scheduled special tours to study “150 Years of Hats”, Including Stephens College in Missouri, Cotnoir Capponi in Montreal, Drexel Institute in Philadelphia and the Rhode Island School of Design.

    The Exhibition opened with an invitational preview for Museum Members and students of the Fashion Institute of Technology, featuring a fashion show of hats from the Museum collection and a presentation by Mr. John of his new “Second Empire” collection. Beginning April 5th, 150 YEARS OF HATS will be on display for the general public in the 4th floor galleries of the Brooklyn Museum.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1953 - 1970. 1960, 020-22.
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  • May 2, 1960 The Community Committee of the Brooklyn Museum has selected the models for the unique invitational fashion show, 150 YEARS OF HATS, at the Museum on April 4th at 1:30 p.m. This event, being held in conjunction with the opening of the Exhibition, is free to Museum members and $1.50 for non-members.

    The fashion parade will begin with an introduction by Virginia Pope, noted fashion authority and instructor at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Robert Riley, Director of the Museum’s Industrial Research Division, will present selections from the Museum’s collection of “original great hats of the past”, beginning with a sprigged mull cap of 1799. This presentation will be followed by famed couturier-milliner, Mr. John, who will introduce his “Second Empire” Collection, the first public showing of these summer creations.

    The Brooklyn ladies who will model the hats of the past and present are: Mrs. Samuel Berke, Mrs. Robert T.H. Davidson, Mrs. Henry Feldshuh, Miss Roslyn Federman, Mrs. Hardie Frieberg, Mrs. Jerome Kahan, Mrs. Herman Katzman, Dr. Bernice Krantner, Mrs. Herbert Lapinsky, Miss Elizabeth Lapovsky, Mrs. George Liberman, Mrs. Harold Littman, Mrs. Sidney Waxman, Mrs. Melvin Weine, Mrs. A. Seth Werner.

    To model the young people’s and the dapper men’s hats, Mrs. Samuel Berke, a Community Committee chairman, has selected the Misses Robin Lapinsky and Judy Friedlander and the Messers Bruce and Michael Marcus.

    Mrs. Arthur Lapovsky, Chairman of membership for the Community Committee has arranged a reception following the show. Arrangements for the colorful program are coordinated by co-chairman Mrs. E. Vincent Curtayne, Mrs. Jack Schneider and Mrs. Aaron Moldover.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1953 - 1970. 1960, 024-5.
    View Original