FrouFrou 4 YouYou

What Hats Did Linda Feigenheimer Like Best? Glitz and Glam? May 28, 2011

So many hats of the collection of Linda Feigenheimer make one think she fancied ones with a bit of Glitz and Glam.

Here are just a few of the 300 hats that had started the estate sale in 2009. So many elegant hats for every mood, but many were just plain…elegant…feminine…delightful.

Bes Ben hats were on a table behind the sales ladies, as these were considered even more treasured than some others.


It is an understatement to say most all of the hats were great, but this Lily Dache was the one I spent the most time examining for days after acquiring the collection of about 100 hats. Fifty hats seen in the sale were sold at rock bottom prices at a Susannin Auction Chicago event in Nov 2009. Luckily this one was spared, probably as it was not in it’s full glory.  Faded in some areas, it seemed it should be restored, yet it has it’s own not too shabby chic that does not allow it to be deconstructed and reconstructed, tho it likely would improve it significantly.


Some seem patriotic, which is fitting for Memorial Day weekend and July 4th, some years ago.

Some big and little black hats catch your eye, but only for a moment when you add some color.

One Big Pink Flower here. Did you even notice it was attached to a hat?

In this case the hat is in there somewhere, as the assortment of accents is almost overwhelming.

Which milliners get credit for these treasures? Loreta Corsetti, Lily Dache, and others. It is nice to have those two names in the same sentence. Anyone out there want to guess which is the Corsetti? It is not too hard to place the Dache-the insides with the labels are also shown.

Here is the inside of the Corsetti.

Did you select the black pique with the grey and black stripe band with buckle? There were a couple of others in the group you might have wondered about. The black with pink velvet rose is Adolpho II, the black with feathers and rhinestone swag is Breithaups from Milwaukee perhaps a hundred years ago or more,  the little black straw was probably 40s or 50s Gladys and Belle of NY sold at Ruth McCullock of Hubbard Woods and Evanston, and the last white straw was Edythe of Evanston from long ago.

The patriotic ones were the large brim from Mandel Bros in Chicago,  and the white straw a Ere Nouvelle of NY sold at Edythe of Evanston.

Happy Memorial Day, 2011. Mandel Bros hat, here I come. Even if it is not Glitz and Glam.



Bes Ben Hat Luncheon of The Service Club of Chicago May 18, 2011

Sherry Lea Holson did Benjamin Green-Field proud. Her organization of this wonderful luncheon for the oldest service organization in Chicago, the Service Club of  Chicago, was held today to honor the work of Benjamin Green-Field of Bes Ben hats. The presentation by noted Bes Ben historian, Elizabeth Jachimowicz with a slide show  had ladies laughing at some unique hats.

Just as Elizabeth is seen here reviewing the exhibit hats, she has been studying these hats since her 15 years at the Chicago History Museum when Ben was present for the exhibit of his works. There are many hats that have crossed her hands, and each one has all of the details recorded in detail. There were stories of his successes and his hats. Just in case you were needing a new tidbit, she explained that he started in 1919 with his sister Bessie, creating hats designed to reflect the latest Paris styles. His travels to Paris included returning with prime examples of what women around the world wanted. After ten years Bessie removed herself from the business, but the name remained. At that point he consolidated their several stores to the one most folks recall, in the 900 block of Michigan Avenue. He left many decades later only because the building was to be torn down. One Mag Mile now stands in its place.

As far as Bes Ben Hats, you could admire some on loan in the midst of a pleasant room at the Club, or on the heads of several attendees. Sherry Lea Holson wore the coral hat that was heavier than most other Bes Bens in the place. Two attendees from the Benjamin Green-Field Foundation wore delightful small hats, as well as an iridescent one on the head of Iris Sholder,  the newest Bes Ben fan. Another woman had on a delightful white number as well. And if there were more of you out there who were not sighted by this writer, please update us. Your willingness to share by wearing was most appreciated.

What hats were ladies wearing to this event? Overwhelmingly they were big brim hats. The Kentucky Derby had nothing on these 230 ladies. Many of the hats had been made especially for this day by the premier couture milliner from Chicago, Loreta Corsetti, who was resplendent in a voluminous cream (?) straw creation. Picture by John Reilly PhotographyAren’t John Reilly’s photos spectacular? Here are more:

Thank you John for real pictures.

Prizes were awarded for several categories to Mamie Walton, Laurie Davis,  Rochelle Trotter and Cheryl Bollinger.  Winners had delightful stories to tell . The two most memorable of the four stories were from Rochelle and Cheryl. Rochelle could not have been more excited, and had struggled even until last night to decide which hat to wear, making a John Koch of Chicago very notable. A rust/orange dupioni silk with an upturned brim was simple in its use of fabric in a way that made the design sing.

Cheryl could have been a contender if there were a category of largest hat as well.  She regaled everyone with her story of the Paw Paw, MI florist,  Sherri Taylor owner of Taylor’s Florist, who created a BIG hat to match her floral print dress. Based upon a black hat there were white flowers  bigger than nature ever intended. Perhaps I am misquoting her, but I think she said her husband thought it was a refrigerator that had been delivered when the box with the hat arrived. When I came home and told my husband the story of this hat and that we were making a trip to meet this newest milliner, he rolled his eyes. Men!

But speaking of men there were two who added much to the day. Patrick Kearney brought four hats from Susannin’s Auction of Chicago, and also represented Irene, who sadly missed the fun on behalf of Robert Feigenheimer. Four hats loaned from his sister’s estate were only a few of many purchases of Linda Feigenheimer. Elizabeth’s slide show ended with the picture of the Independence Hat. Linda had outbid a New York collector in 1999 at an auction for this hat. It was more than $18K, which remains the highest ever for a hat. But then she spent over $30K that day on Bes Ben hats alone.

The other gentleman present was Bunky Cushing who recorded details of this event that are far more inclusive than what is in this blog. For the inside scoop you must go to Thank heaven he has professional pictures to share.

Bunky joined in the hat judging, and this man knows style. It was a pleasure to confer with Elizabeth and he about the wonderful hats selected for prizes. If there could have been an additional twenty runner-up hats they would have included, in no particular order: Cheryl Coleman who went to Jill Henning of Ohio during the Kentucky Derby, Sally Shock in a floral knockout, Shanna Montgomery who insisted the bright pink headwear she sported did not qualify, tho really it did, Tracey Di Buono in the Butterfly creation of Philip Treacy, Tina Weller in a turquoise hat that made her dress a standout, Roni Siegel in feathers, Julie Peckham and Lily Hauf, both in Loreta Corsetti hats, and all those others whose names escaped me while enthralled with their hats.

All in all it was a perfect day in Chicago to wear a hat, as it will be again tomorrow.

Happy 2011!


Frank Olive Private Collection May 14, 2011

Filed under: Chicago Millinery History,millinery — froufrou4youyou @ 1:51 pm
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This hat is a stunner. If it were a woman we would call it a Bombshell!

Frank Olive had a wonderful career, selling scads of hats in Chicago. A friend recently acquired this vintage gem, soon to be available for sale and listed on Etsy’s FrouFrou4 YouYou.

This raises the question about milliners and special hats made for special clients. A “Private Collection” must exist from Chicago milliners as well. Do you have such hats in your collection? Please share some stories of these creations.

Just now I have one whimsy with felt elephants on it without a label that is the next great hat history challenge. But more of that in a later blog.

Happy Private Label Day in 2011!



Princess Beatrice Hat-Not the Largest Hat Ever Made! May 6, 2011

All the world was abuzz over the Royal Wedding millinery April 29, 2011. Princess Beatrice wore a striking hat, but it did not meet everyone’s approval. For this observer of the online buzz, especially the FaceBook part, what’s the fuss?

Big Hats have been fashionable from long ago. But one Mid-Century renowned Chicago milliner was making waves with these oversize hats in the 1960’s.

Take a look at the news coverage from back in the day:

Are those big enough for you? Do you have one of these Raymond Hudd treasures? Most are in the Chicago History Museum, but someone bought these hats as well.  Let us in on the secret of where they are today.

Hopefully some day the Princess Beatrice hat will be on tour and we can all compare that delight to the ones Raymond enjoyed making long ago. We know Raymond would approve of her millinery masterpiece.

And just in case you only favor flowers:

Have a Happy Hat Day!


Raymond Hudd and the Spring Hat 2011

Is that BIG enough Raymond?

A delightful weekend visit with Raymond Hudd included some time discussing hats, looking at hats, assessing hats, making hat trim under his watchful eye, playing with hat supplies, and more time discussing hat history. That’s fun for some of us.

One delightful part of a conversation was about the years Raymond had his shop open on Clark in Chicago, and worked on his collection to be sold in major Chicago department stores. Wiebolt’s had a collection, and an ad from that era tells us he was still big into feathers.

The golden historical tidbit was that his hats were for sale at Saks Fifth Ave in Chicago. While he and his friend Iris talked about that adventure she recalled he was fine with the location, but chose not to make the same hat to be sold in each store. The artist does not duplicate his work, and so it was the supply to Saks came to an end. Anyone out there have one of the Hudd hats from Saks? PLEASE let us know, as it would be a wonderful photo to add to the building biography of Raymond.

Did I mention Raymond loved to work with feathers? Last fall when talking about a “Spring 2011” collection he mentioned he would love to work with feathers. And here he is with the biggest, best vintage feather for his inspection. And it passed inspection with a smile.

Now it is time to put that feather on the BIG hat and have some more hat fun. Can’t wait to take the hat back to MI for a visit. Making that hat is what is planned for fun during the Kentucky Derby. It’s BIG enough!

Plus a BIG thanks to Iris Sholder, Raymond’s friend, for the photos on May 1, 2011. The best May Day ever.

Happy ???Day of 2011!