Linda Feigenheimer Had Hats; oh so many Fabulous Hats!
Linda Feigenheimer knew high fashion when she saw it. Ms. Feigenheimer collected vintage finery; lots of it over many years. The highlights were many, but the millinery was superb. Millinery that spans the 1920’s and perhaps long before, through the 1990s. When she died at age 56 in 2008, she had amassed a collection worthy of historical society envy.
She grew up in Winnetka Illinois, and lived in the modest family home filled with items she acquired from purchases made with her hard earned money. She was a US Postal Service employee; she earned the trappings of fine design, but chose to live a less glamorous existence.
300 hats were available at the estate sale held February 28-March 1, 2009. One woman and her daughter parked in the driveway late the afternoon before the 10am start time. They were determined to be first, to get the Number 1 given out at 9:30 to allow them into the sale. They spent $2000, or so the story was told to those waiting on line for the 11am opening the next and last day. “They got all the good stuff.” The choices the second day were incredible, one can not even imagine what was sold on day one!
Bes Ben hats were listed in the advertisement, and that was the draw for this hat collector, and milliner wannabe. 18 were included, and held on a table tended by the fine ladies of New Trier Sales, who handled the sale.
To hold these in ones hands, as well as the remaining fine examples of Lily Dache, Dior, Frank Olive, and Raymond Hudd made many a heart skip a beat. Of the hats left on this second day there was an especially quirky hat covered with plastic greenery with orange flowers.
By today’s standards the idea of putting plastic flowers on anything is out of style. When this hat was constructed the use of anything “silly,” as Benjamin Greenfield referred to some of his concoctions, was highly sought after. It carries with it the spirit of a Bon Vivant milliner, and the intuitive collector who knew it for its place in millinery history.
What was she thinking as she collected many other fine examples? Certainly she had the last laugh when just a part of her vast millinery holdings were available for others to enjoy.
And did this attendee make a selection? Certainly! It started with the first trip that day for a Bes Ben hat to use at a tiny Bes Ben hat show the next week.
The second trip back that day brought enough money to purchase the two Raymond Hudds that had been the competing temptation, and a chance to take pictures of so many others that were sorely desired, but not to be afforded.
The third trip that day led to a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Linda from her most gracious brother, and heir, Bob. His generosity in lending the pictured Bes Bens for that hat show made me truly indebted to him.
A bit more about the adventures that followed will come along shortly.
Hats off to Linda Feigenheimer, who knew a great hat when she found it.
Happy 5th day of 2011.