FrouFrou 4 YouYou

Linda Feigenheimer Hat-New Beginnings: Australia June 18, 2011

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This delightful pink beaded hat started out in the Glencoe, Il shop of Dorothy Rutz, most likely in the 1950’s. Along the way it probably saw a few cocktail parties, and then spent many years on a closet shelf. Somehow Linda Feigenheimer of Winnetka, IL added it to her collection of about 400 hats.  At the estate sale held in 2009 there were 4 beaded hats from Dorothy Rutz.

Linda Feigenheimer lived very modestly in her family home, worked for the United States Post Office in Winnetka, rode her bike, and managed to acquire an incredible collection of vintage designer clothing, jewels, and most importantly for me, HATS! All that without a computer, where these stories live on.

One hat took an interesting trip to the vintage Etsy seller Julia of BasyaBerkman from Morton Grove, and made it’s way to a loving home.

One hat sits in a hat box with beads of green, red and blue for my future use, and a green felt with beading has made an appearance at a festive holiday party in Wilmette, upon my head.

This pink one has a different future.

It leaves on it’s voyage to Australia for Melbourne, and all it’s racing glory. The newest owner is  Anna Mott, who knows millinery inside and out. Raelene Wilson writes ” According to the Spring Racing Carnival’s latest economic impact report, $43 million was spent in 2009 on racing fashion.

Women bought 60,000 hats, more than 50,000 pairs of shoes and 55,000 dresses.

Mott, who has had success with her racehorse, Danzylum, says she is a “hataholic”, owning more than 100 hats.”

Anna Mott’s public television show on racing fashion is even mentioned in Wikipedia’s item onC31 Melbourne.

Googling her name, brings up dozens of pages of entries about Anna. How wonderful to know that millinery is thriving in Australia.

One can be certain Dorothy Rutz and Linda Feigenheimer would be proud to have the pink beaded hat headed down under.

Happy 2011!


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!


Chicago Millinery History: Old Hat New Hat-not the book January 25, 2011

Once upon a time a well regarded fashion house set up shop on Michigan Ave. Martha Weathered had the best money could buy. And why not, her shop was across from the Drake Hotel in Chicago. Hats were so popular back then that even Benjamin Green-Field of Bes Ben Hats did astoundingly well on the same block.

This brings us to wondering if those hats serve a purpose as inspiration to others.
This Martha Weathered hat is from the Linda Feigenheimer collection, and has appeared in a few hat shows.

When looking at a wonderful 2010 hat by Angela Morano it gives one hope this old hat has come to life in a fresh new way. Check for yourself:×588/1640739.html

Wanting a bit of Martha glamor? Check out the 1927 flapper dress at at

And for anyone who does not know the Berenstain Bear children’s book you might just want to add one to your millinery book collection. It was one I read hundreds of times to my children years ago. Wonder if they could recite it as easily as I, hmmm.

Happy 25th day of 2011!


Happy National Hat Day 2011! January 15, 2011

Filed under: Linda Feigenheimer,millinery,Uncategorized — froufrou4youyou @ 7:12 pm
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It’s finally here! Which hat are you wearing today?

Even if you do not get to go outdoors you can enjoy the day by pulling out some or all of your hats to put one on. Who will care if you change every hour because there are more than a few that you adore.

Perhaps that trip down memory lane is enough to make your day, or maybe you need a hat fix. Head out and find a new one. A new hat will make you smile and lift your spirits.

Making a new hat for yourself is an option, if you happen to have supplies on hand. Or just sprucing up one up with new trim. I shall be trying that myself.

We might also want to pave the way for the future of millinery with the next generation. Give a young lady a hat. One of your “older” hats that can be for dress up or to encourage the start of a vintage collection. Check out Etsy for some fine choices and have one sent if there was just too much turmoil in pulling one of your own.

Sending an email card to announce the surprise gift can suffice till it arrives.

Happy 15th day of 2011!


National Hat Day is Jan 15, 2011 January 8, 2011

It is wonderful to
have a day devoted to hats that is about the hats themselves. The
best info I found came from a favorite, and authoritative source,
Hat Life.
January 15th is National Hat Day.
This auspicious occasion has a vague history (Rumor has it that the
Headwear Association started National Hat Day back in the 40’s or
50’s) but has been mentioned in the media (thanks to the Headwear
Association marketing efforts). According to Gary Rosenthal, a
third generation hatter, National Hat Day goes back to the 20’s or
30’s. “It was when men were supposed to transition from Summer to
Fall hats – getting rid of the old and putting on the new. I have
heard of cities where they carried a coffin down the street filled
with old season’s hats.” To add buzz to this hat
occasion, The Headwear Association will be announcing the winner of
the Hat Person of the Year on January 15th. This year’s nominees
are: Gwen Stefani, Kate Hudson, Nicole Richie, Johnny Depp, Hugh
Jackman and Justin Timberlake. “Last year we noticed that we had an
unusual amount of traffic on our website on January 15th. Various
media outlets were writing stories and attributing The Headwear
Association with creating the day, so we decided we would make our
Hat Person of the Year coincide with
National Hat Day,” said a THA spokesperson.

Also, hatters take note – March 17th is the 103rd
Annual Headwear Association Dinner in NYC
. This year
the dinner will take place at the Central Park Boathouse in New
York City. The THA dinner was a smash success last year – everyone
had a great time with their headwear comrades. Sign up for the
Annual Headwear Association Dinner at


The public is invited to cast their vote at The Hat Person of the Year winner will be announced on National Hat Day, January 15.

Want more info on HatLife?
This annual publication is available for purchase and my first copy last year had been a source of information in many ways. A pleasure to look at, and a pleasure learn from. There is a free online newsletter that is a great way to get to know them.

Now how we each celebrate the day may be as different as the hats we will wear. YOU will be wearing a hat, won’t you? You might want to make it an annual
tradition to go out and buy a hat on that day-tho any day can work for that plan. The question is where does one find the best suited hat? Send me your favorites in the comment section and everyone can know your inside secret to hat heaven.
If you are in need of a new NEW hat there are options:

For a milliner in Chicago one could look to: Members of Chapeau Laurie Kennard, and also milliner Jenny Pfanenstiel are delightful andmore than talented:                     
OR the multi-time Raymond Hudd Award winning  Angela Morano at
OR the Midwest Millinery Alliance

If one were to think of a large marketer one might think of Macy’s, Carson, Pirie Scott, or in the midwest, Von Maur.

If you are in need of a new VINTAGE hat there are options: One has the best vintage fashion site on etsy, and the hat listings are something to keep an eye on (and purchase):

But what about a bricks and mortar vintage site? North suburbs of Chicago have many antique places Linda Feigenheimer bought some of her hundreds of hats. My local favs are limited, but several times a year one could check out Heritage Trail Antiques at 410 Ridge, 847-256-6208. or Oakton St Antique at 2430 Oakton, in Elk Grove Village

Happy 8th day of 2011!


Linda Feigenheimer Had Hats January 5, 2011

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.

A Lilly Dache

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.

The most helpful New Treir Sales saleswoman there! This was the most helpful New Trier Sales woman and helped in many ways; the delightful Jane Baker.

The sales woman so gracious to model many temptations!

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.

My First Raymond Hudd hat

"My" Hudd amidst so many beauties


This one sold for a song at a Susannin auction later in the year

“My” second Hudd hat

"My" Hudd inside is almost as pretty as the outside

Just like in fishing, the one that got away

The inside of the one that got away

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.