FrouFrou 4 YouYou

Frank Olive Private Collection May 14, 2011

Filed under: Chicago Millinery History,millinery — froufrou4youyou @ 1:51 pm
Tags: , ,

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!

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9 Responses to “Frank Olive Private Collection”

  1. Cindy Says:

    Love the Frank Olive hats. I have not seen one like this before!

  2. I used to sell Frank Olive hats and I never saw anything like this. Make me wonder if it’s authentic.

    • The label seemed well attached which did not lead me to think it was not authentic. This hat is what raises the question of what Private Label means to each milliner. I am so glad you have written as perhaps you had encountered this label in his hats before? The friend who had purchased this did not question it’s authenticity, and she has a couple hundred hats, tho I do not know how many are Frank Olive. Sadly it did not suit her once it arrived and then in turn sent it on to me.

      I am fascinated to learn of your hat selling experience. Mine was limited to when I was 16 in 1966, but it has left me with a thirst for millinery knowledge. At this point I still collect hats, but try to keep them limited to a connection to Chicago. Hard to tell what can lead me astray with temptation.

      Starting this blog was my attempt to focus on writing about millinery, especially in the past, and it is blossoming into even more research and writing. I have been collecting old issues of HATS magazines from the mid 60’s-70’s. As yet I have seen no articles about Frank Olive, but some lovely hats, usually in drawing form.

      Looking forward to hearing from you again, and hopefully I will be checking more frequently to see if there are comments.

      • Hello hat lovers! I was researching Frank Olive to write a bio about him, and noticed the interest in his Private Collection label. This label has been reported as Frank Olive’s label reserved for custom orders. We have had a Private Collection label of his on a 1960s/early 70s chestnut fedora with its original tag. We don’t know whether it was truly one-of-a-kind, but for what it’s worth, he made the identical hat in black for a Lillie Rubin collection in the same season. This does suggest the chestnut variation may have been a custom request. If you’d like to read the bio we created, please see http://www.vintagevixen.com/store/pc/Frank-Olive-Hats-d159.htm . I hope this helps fellow Frank Olive fans 🙂

      • My apologies for this delayed response. I wish I had more to offer, but the following is what we included in the last edition of our ebook, Hatatorium: A Essential Guide for Hat Collectors:
        http://www.hatatorium.com/publications.html

        Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1929, Olive studied at the Chicago Art Institute, where he started designing costumes. He moved to New York originally hoping to design for the theater. He worked for a while at Chanda and Emme before opening his first boutique on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village, where he designed hats for Seventh Avenue fashion houses and leading department stores. In 1971 he partnered with David Stein to establish Frank Olive’s World. He was one of the foremost U.S. milliners from the 1950s through 1990s. His customers included Carol Burnett, Diana Ross and Peggy Lee. He died in New York in 1995 at age 66. Source N.Y. Times obituary. Mentioned and/or advertised in fashion magazines in 1940s through 1970s. Labels: Frank Olive (designer), Frank Olive Original (salon), Frank’s Girl (bridge), Collectables by Frank Olive, Frank Olive Private Collection, Original Ruby Art by Frank Olive, Counterfits (mass-market). A two-toned velour wide brimmed fedora circa 1965-70 is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Art Boston.

  3. tonya Says:

    I just purchased a frank olive hat at a auction. I am looking for anyone who might know something about it . the hat is black wool.
    the label says from my private collection on a bright pink ribbon sewn around inside.brim is long

    • Frank Olive made some wonderful quality hats. They were sold at Fields and other high end places in Chicago, as well as throughout the country. Some sell on eBay and Etsy for $50-$100, depending on style and condition. You have something that sounds likely to be very wearable, and certainly fun. Enjoy.
      Here is some info on him from out ebook, Hatatorium- An Essential Guide for Hat Collectors.http://hatatorium.com/publications.html

      Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1929, Olive studied at the Chicago Art Institute, where he started designing costumes. He moved to New York originally hoping to design for the theater. He worked for a while at Chanda and Emme before opening his first boutique on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village, where he designed hats for Seventh Avenue fashion houses and leading department stores. In 1971 he partnered with David Stein to establish Frank Olive’s World. He was one of the foremost U.S. milliners from the 1950s through 1990s. His customers included Carol Burnett, Diana Ross and Peggy Lee. He died in New York in 1995 at age 66. Source N.Y. Times obituary. Mentioned and/or advertised in fashion magazines in 1940s through 1970s. Labels: Frank Olive (designer), Frank Olive Original (salon), Frank’s Girl (bridge), Collectables by Frank Olive, Frank Olive Private Collection, Original Ruby Art by Frank Olive, Counterfits (mass-market). In 1980 Frank owned two companies, one for his high end hats that ran $150, and a less expensive line for mass retailers, through his Tristar company that began in 1979. A two-toned velour wide brimmed fedora circa 1965-70 is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Art Boston.

  4. Alice Cox Says:

    In the spring of 1979, my mother and I were walking thru Neiman Marcus at the mall and came upon a hat trunk show given by Frank Olive. He was very different from the other hat designers that we had seen. He greeted every lady and showed her how to put the hat on, how to wear it, and the type that was suited to her head. Thus began a long time friendship with him and the model that worked with him during his spring and fall trunk shows. Frank designed my wedding hat and I made my wedding dress to go with the hat. He also made my mother’s hat and my mother-in-law’s hat and made lovely ribbon garnishes for the maid of honor, bridesmaid and my sister-in-law and sister who served the cake and punch. This was his wedding gift to me. I am glad that his hats are still being made. He could measure my hat size by putting his fingers around the circumference of my head. He also would take orders to make the hats in the color and hat garnishes that one preferred. I think of him often as I now wear my hats for protection from the sun and wear one every day. He often said that he loved to make women look beautiful. I am very glad his hats are still being made and his legacy continues.

    • What a fond memory, and thank you for sharing. This was one of the greats. Luckily he lived during a time when women wore hats as a part of fashion regularly. Oh, it were only so today again. Which NM store was this at? Since I primarily research Chicago’s millinery history, I am hoping it was at Oakbrook or Northbrook, IL, tho it seems those store may have been too new for that to be the case.


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