FrouFrou 4 YouYou

Chicago Millinery History Research: The Chicago History Museum Research Center January 30, 2011

Filed under: Bes Ben,Chicago Millinery History,millinery — froufrou4youyou @ 5:32 pm
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Spending a few hours at the CHM Research Center digging for more joyful finds is the greatest way to get back into the groove to locate millinery places long gone.

Becoming a member of the museum gives you the opportunity for unlimited use of these collections, tho for only $5 you can spend the day upstairs for any path your heart leads you. $15 gives you this privilege for a year.

A couple of years ago the need for more information brought me here after looking up online for what their collections held. The collection has greatly expanded and the online search of their collection for millinery yielded 4 pages of items. I have previously spent many hours going thru the Bes Ben:
“13 linear ft. (18 boxes & 13 card file boxes)
Summary: Ledgers, customer card index files, state time inspection records; plus sundry correspondence, sales slips, passports, personal account books, and other materials relating to Mr. Green-Field’s millinery business, the Bes-Ben shop in Chicago, and to his world travels. Bes-Ben was known for its flamboyant hats designed for a clientele of prominent women. Mr. Green-Field was known for his personal style as well as the hats and pillows he designed.”

IF you would like the full breakdown, known as the “finding aid” go to

The last time I had pulled myself away from that collection I visited the one file folder from Gage, and looked at a few pictures. Now there are many other things to review, and in due course, report back some tidbit highlights.

The Jan. 29 visit only touched the tip of the three parts of history icebergs:

The Millinery Herald was published by the Millinery Herald Co. The bound copy has Spring 1907 through Winter 1910-11.

The Monitor of Fashion For The Millinery Trade published by D.B. Fish. The bound copy is in a tender state with the loose hard cover held together with cord. It has issues from March 1896 through October 1900.

The Keith family papers, 1840- 1905.

Watch for more blogs with highlights of each of these CHM treasures.
Happy 30th day of 2011!


Chicago Millinery History 2011 Continued January 28, 2011

Filed under: Chicago Millinery History,millinery — froufrou4youyou @ 6:54 pm
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Here is an Ann Marie hat-Made in Chicago! This is designed and produced by the long established millinery house, Yoms. Located on the north side of Chicago the couple who have made a success of millinery for 30 years seem to be the only ones with a current manufacturing operation to be found here.
With a showroom in Atlanta, and trips a couple of times a year to show their wonderful creations, this line of hats offers many choices each season. Most could be considered Church Hats, but they are perfect for so many festive events you can see why they sell so well.
A quick visit today was more fun than most could imagine. The display of hats gives you hope to see millinery continue to thrive in Chicago. I went hoping to find a very wide brim black straw to fashion into a Merry Widow hat, but do not have the heart to touch this creation. But then why would I, I need one for my collection of a hat from every milliner in Chicago set.

Take a look at the tag

The bottom line does not show well, but is very important: Made in USA

Happy 28th day of 2011!


The Opposite of the Merry Widow-The Yohji Yamamoto Wedding Hat

Filed under: millinery,Uncategorized — froufrou4youyou @ 6:15 pm
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The ultimate opposite of the Merry Widow Hat is the elegant and wildly oversize Yohji Yamamoto wedding hat.
Paired with an equally oversize wedding dress this current designer’s hat requires four bamboo poles to hold it up.
It would be wonderful to have a photo right here for you to see, but there are other ways to savor this creation.
A full page (pg 21) picture of it in Stephen Jones book, Hats:An Anthology.
The book is a delightful read, but also eye candy with more hats to warm your heart and stir your imagination.

Lucky you, if you will be able to purchase one for yourself, but there are libraries to check as well. Many community libraries will purchase books for their collections if asked, and funds are available, just try asking. (Don’t try the Northwestern University Library , as just now I am enjoying their copy, courtesy of my wonderful husband who checked it out as a birthday surprise for me yesterday.)

Wish you could see some of the Yohji Yamamoto fashions in person? All you need is a trip to the London V&A Museum anytime from March 21 until July 10, 2011

Happy 28 th day of 2011!


Millinery Postcard: The Merry Widow Hat

Filed under: millinery,Uncategorized — froufrou4youyou @ 6:12 pm
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In 1908 a series of sixteen postcards by I. Grollman were issued about a wildly popular (with women) hat, The Merry Widow.

A treasure trove of information about the origins of The Merry Widow Hat was provided by Marlis Schweitzer in “Darn That Merry Widow Hat”:The On-and Offstage Life of a TheatrIcal Commodity, circa 1907-1908.

Based on the hat designed by Lucile(Lady Duff Gordon), the Merry Widow hat had it’s debute June 1907 in London. This was the George Edwardes production of the operetta by Franz Lehar, The Merry Widow.

How the hat became almost a star in it’s own right is a riveting saga from stage to street wear. The impact on women’s behavior across the pond and then across this nation tells us this hat had as much to do with female sexuality, politics and gender equality as the 1970’s bra burning.

No one used this postcard-perhaps it was too controversial!

Happy 28th day of 2011!


Chicago Tribune Archive: Millinery 1915 and 1926 January 25, 2011

Filed under: Chicago Millinery History,Uncategorized — froufrou4youyou @ 10:09 pm
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Now Here’s an Interesting Way to Get a Husband-Work for Carson, Pirie, Scott & Company in Chicago and Consult on Millinery! “She Picks Fine Hats; He Makes Her His Wife”


February 4, 1915 the Chicago Tribune tells us how Miss Louise English became Mrs. Guy S. Tullet. Once again this demonstrates that age old line about Behind Every Successful Man there is a Woman. Not really all that true, but it seemed to have worked out for this couple. It is also of interest that it was newsworthy enough to make it into the paper. Slow news day?

“Chicagoan Held As Embezzler Denies Charges”

March 26, 1926 Chicago Tribune


The article indicates the fellow provided $10,000 to make it right. It also has him stating he had made a profit of $700,000 in FL.

That’s a good profit in 2011 dollars, but back in 1926 it meant some serious money. Wonder how it all was made, but whatever way there was a major rift in the lives of H. Blazer, “formerly a prominent Chicago wholesale millinery man” and A. B. Darling here in Chicago.  Embezzling $10,000 is sure to cause problems, or even the suspicion of such created a sad situation. Wonder what they wrote in the Tampa paper. The folks on that train when Blazer got off and was arrested must have been shocked when the arrest took place. Maybe there were some first person accounts to spice up their article.

Guess it was the Al Capone era in Chicago and there were lots of crime issues all around.

According to Wikipedia Capone was months away from almost losing his own life:

St Valentines Day Massacre was preceded by “ …The bloody events of February 14, 1929, began nearly five years before with the murder of Dion O’Banion, the leader of Chicago’s North Side Irish mob. At that time, control of bootleg liquor in the city raged back and forth between the Irish North Siders, run by O’Banion, and the Italian South Side Outfit, which was controlled by Johnny Torrio and his henchman, Al Capone. In November 1924, Torrio ordered the assassination of O’Banion and started an all-out Irish vs Italian war in the city. The North Side Irishmen retaliated soon afterward and nearly killed Torrio outside of his home. This brush with death led to him leaving the city and turning over operations to Capone, who almost was killed himself in September 1926.”

Happy 25th day of 2011!


Chicago Tribune Archives: Millinery 1849 Notice to Milliners

Filed under: Chicago Millinery History,millinery,Uncategorized — froufrou4youyou @ 10:03 pm
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“The subscribers have received from the manufacturers a few cases of BONNETS, consisting of Florence, English Dunstable, Shell, and Pedal Braid, &c, which they will sell at less than New York jobbing prices.” Ward and Dogget 172 Lake St.

Can’t wait to go” Too late-way late. This ad ran in the Chicago Tribune, tucked between Land Warrants and Paper Hangings on April 23, 1849.

But that ad does not hold a candle to the one from Mrs. Anderson at 44 Clark. Her selection includes “BONNETS of entirely new styles, Green French Lace, Drab do, Jenny Lind English Tulip, English Porcupine, Genessee, Drab and blue chip, lead colored lace and chip Coburg, Rice, Pearl, Pamela, Florence Rough and Ready, Dunstable, Pedal and Gimp, Boys and Misses’ Tuscan, Pearl and Dunstable hats-with a large assortment of French, English and American Flowers and Wreaths, Ribbons, Straws and Lace Trimmings, all kinds of Bonnet silks.”

Business must have been pretty good for Mrs. A, as her next ad found from 1852 has her on Lake St as well. Moving up in the world?

Happy 25th day of 2011!


Chicago Tribune Archives: Millinery 1852

Filed under: Chicago Millinery History,millinery — froufrou4youyou @ 9:55 pm
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Using ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 – 1987) to search the Chicago Tribune for all entries under Millinery we find the first advertisement on April 21, 1852. It is 1 of 80022 search findings.

Great Attraction for the Ladies!
Mrs. Anderson
Has just returned from New York with a beautiful assortment of FRENCH MILLINERY GOODS, selected by her from the Latest Styles and Importations.
Her stock is ample and complete, comprising all the Newest Styles and Fashions, making the most tasteful and elegant assortment of
Ever brought to Chicago, all of which she will open on MONDAY, April 25th, for the inspection of the Ladies.
Mrs. A having the agency of one of the largest importing houses in New York, can now supply Country Milliners with Goods at N.Y. cost, adding transportation.
142 Lake St 142
Over L. D. Olmsted & Co,’s-up stairs

But if one takes a moment to scan the entire page this ad was taken from, we also find one just below the Anderson opening ad:
Two or three good Milliners. None need apply but first rate hands.
Mrs. Anderson 142 Lake st.

What a great opportunity for an ambitious and talented applicant. Be the first to see what Mrs. A brings back from her twice yearly trips to NY. Maybe the influx of Country Milliners requires more hands on deck to handle the customers, and to create the latest bonnets.
AND then there is also another big draw: to work over the Olmsted store gives one the chance to see their selection of dry goods. Make money upstairs and spend it downstairs. What milliner has not invested earnings into many temptations to make more hats. Doubt that was ever a problem for a plumber-were there plumbers back in 1852? Time to look into the history of plumbing next-or not.

Happy 25th day of 2011!