FrouFrou 4 YouYou

Chicago Millinery History: Raymond Hudd, An Overview October 4, 2017

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Raymond Hudd (Huddlestun) was born Dec 19, 1924 in Custer, MI, Mason County, and died July 20, 2010, in Muskegon. MI. His parents were Glenn and Vilma Huddlestun.  Glenn Sr passed away in 1981 but in 1972 compiled a family history which goes back before Norman the Great in England, of landed gentry.  Later early ancestors, in the US, relocated primarily to VA, where there is a town named Huddlestun.

Early Years

Raymond’s father had moved to Michigan as a child from IL. When he grew up he became a carpenter, and had a farm. Raymond loved to tell the story of his mother’s affection for violets. In spring, when the first of the violets appeared the children were then allowed to go barefoot outside. Vilma passed away in 1946, and of a total of five boys, Raymond focused upon helping his younger brothers, including Ivan. Raymond worked locally, at the Campbell Wyon Cannon Foundry after high school, but moved back to the farm when his mother passed away. The favorite pastime was listening to dance music broadcast from Chicago.

“In a 1988 interview with the Tribune, Mr. Hudd said his first creation was a mud-and-leaves hat for his two mules, Jack and Fanny. It took a while to train them to keep on their hats, but they finally caught on and wouldn’t leave the barn without them,” Mr Hudd said.”

“From barnyard mules, Mr. Hudd advanced to Gold Coast socialites. In 1948, he left Michigan to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. After two years creating millinery displays for others, he opened a shop in 1950 and shortened his name to Hudd.”1.

This photo is dated 1950, the photo at top in undated but is likely at least 10 years later.

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He had been working on State Street in large department store window display, and came to feel he could make hats at least as good as the ones he was featuring in the windows. His efforts began on a small scale.

Early Professional Years

Inspiration is part of success, and he looked to the works of others, having kept news clippings from as early as an eight page millinery section in the spring of 1949 of the Chicago Tribune. He acknowledged learning as he went along while buying supplies from Fox Millinery on Lake Street, an established wholesale supplier.

The only opening he had a pre-printed announcement paper for was the opening Aug 19, 1950, at 20 E. Chicago. Photos from his personal album from that day.

 

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In 1962 he seems to have moved to 6 E. Division for a short time. Mid 1960’s he was at 22 Elm Street in Chicago. It is unclear when he opened at 40 Oak St, in what is still one of the toniest shopping blocks just west of the famed Magnificent Mile, Michigan Avenue. Some of the dating of his locations comes from a three inch binder of letters and notes from the comedian Phyllis Diller, including some sent to a box number at Merchandise Mart, tho nothing indicates he sold from there. During the mid to late 70s he sold wholesale at Charles Stevens, and Wieboldts, on State St, and Saks Fifth Avenue on Michigan Ave.

His last shop was opened in 1981 at 2545 N. Clark St, which closed in 2000. This was the only location he had a business card made for his use.

Successful Career

Advertising was not a big part of Raymond’s approach to finding customers. His papers had only one tiny undated newspaper ad from the Division location, tucked between two of his business cards. In one black on cream paper four page booklet Raymond created an invitation to a three day special event Nov 3-5. No year is given, but it is likely 1960s, at 40 E. Oak. His one room, one artist Little Gallery adjoining his millinery section featured Patricia Babcock from Miller, IN.

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This booklet is the only indication of a store assistant, Mr. Del, whose last name remains a mystery. For almost all of his creations Raymond did it all. In the mid 2000’s I had the pleasure to meet one gentleman, Mr. Eugene Wright, who had sewn many a pearl on a hat design by Raymond.

 

He was an active retailer along with several who pushed to create the first Chicago Gold Coast art fair, an outdoor street experience which still continues, 60 years later.

“Seven times, he won the Easter bonnet contest at the Drake Hotel in Chicago, so many times, in fact, he was forbidden to enter an eighth time.”2. In the 1960s there was extensive newspaper coverage of social events of brunch and fashion shows with hat contests on Easter. There were years Raymond hats won at different events across the city. The Drake Hotel was literally down the block from his shop at the corner of Oak and Michigan Ave. Typically the prizes the hotel restaurants provided were modest, such as a cake or bottle of champagne. The news coverage was the icing on the cake for Raymond.

“One of his first high-profile customers was Lee Phillip Bell, a famous Chicago “weather girl” who wore a different hat every day to reflect the weather. All were designed by Hudd.”2. He rented the hats to the studio, and tho they were returned, it is unknown what became of them. Few would recall Lee’s weather girl days, but many are familiar with the TV creations of her and her husband. “After leaving her TV show, Bell joined her husband to co-create the popular CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless in 1973 and its sister show The Bold and the Beautiful in 1987.” 3.

Although hats were owned by Joan Crawford, it was Phyllis Diller, who topped over 500 hats.

“Among the more outrageous objects Mr. Hudd placed on his hats were a burlap sack of potatoes and shredded computer printouts used for the Oliver North 1987-News-in-Review hat.”4. Each year on New Year’s Day Raymond revealed a store window display with a hat inspired from news issues during the previous year. They were not intended for use, although on occasion a brave woman did add these to her wardrobe. They were intended to showcase his windows, and serve as Head Art. Even after his retirement and shop closing were announced in 2000, customers and passersby wrote him notes of appreciation for the eye catching windows, as that was the start of his 50+ year career.

Each hat had a label inside, increasing in size from a black ink rubber stamp in the early 50s to produced labels with his name. In the center of the hat crown he placed a violet, to honor his mother. From 1981 onward he included a hand printed number. It started with the initials of his brothers who had passed away, followed by a number to represent which hat it was of the year. It ended with an initial to represent the year. Thus   GMB=527-M  indicated his honoring his brothers, the five hundredth and twenty-seventhth hat of 1993. He had a less expensive line of hats called Huddettes for three years, 1958-60.

Photo of Raymond working on a buckram base typical of the Huddette style, and appears to likely be from that 1958 era:

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In the 1960s color photos became popular and this 1968 one shows Raymond outside his shop, possibly beaming over the news coverage he posted in the window to draw more attention to the shop:

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In 1968 Raymond mailed this flyer to his father Glenn in Muskegon, from the shop address of 22 E. Elm in Chicago:

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The ongoing press coverage of events and awards added to a large pile of mementos of acknowledgement.

 

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For a Chicagoan, the name Bill Kurtis is synonymous with TV. In 1969 he MC’d the Easter event at the Camellia Room at the Drake Hotel when Raymond had won for a creation of black edged white ruffle covered hat. This picture shows he wore a matching tie, gaining him his own personal attire award, for most unusual tie.

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“And, yes, there was also that olive-size gallstone that Mr. Hudd had surgically removed and made into a hat. That cost me $10,000,” he said of his most expensive ornament, which was painted gold and dangled from a rhinestone-studded wire.”4. The $10K was the cost of his surgery for the gallstone removal. That hat is a part of the collection owned by his remaining brother, Ivan.

The gallstone hat, and many from his annual feature hats were part of an exhibit. In 2001, the Chicago History Museum honored Mr. Hudd with an exhibit called “Raymond Hudd — Hats Over the Edge.”

In 2005 an event was held to primarily honor Raymond by Chapeau: The Milliners Guild in Chicago. It was entitled “Falling Head First” and spanned three days of events at the Chicago Cultural Center, The Chicago Athletic Assoc, and the Fairmont Chicago.

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Eia, of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago also established the ongoing Raymond Hudd Millinery Awards to help support aspiring careers of head wear students.

Although Raymond did not do much advertising, he did compile a small booklet of his favorite hat thoughts. The face page of the booklet of fifteen pages, 3″x4″, had a title: “What is a hat….? Some comments about hats….A hat is a flag…a shield…a bit of armor…a badge of femininity. ”

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The stylized signature of his name was used in many ways, tho this is the only one where the end of the final letter d looks like thread through a needle.

“By the end of his career, Mr. Hudd estimated that he made 50,000 hats.”4

But what else is there to know about the man, besides making hats? He liked to draw his designs, and to photograph his store windows.

A set of pen drawings on linen stock 3×5 cards reveals dozens of designs. Some are labeled so one knows the year from his code used inside hats, one has the word
Special, which may have been a window piece or custom design. Others have no notation at all, making one wonder if they were ever created.

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Raymond loved to write poetry, and explore the popular 1960s focus on extraterrestrial life. “Hudd had served as president of the Space Age Club of Chicago, which he founded in 1959.”5. “The Visitor” was one of his poems. Here are photos of two 1998 hats inspired by his ongoing space interests:

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Raymond’s love of nature outpaced all others and that was likely a long held memory of his life on a farm in Michigan in the 1930s-1940s.

Some hats are still in closets, and some are in collections and museums, like the Chicago History Museum, Columbia College fashion collection, School of the Art Institute Fashion Resource Center, Wilmette Historical Society, and The Fashion History Museum of Cambridge, ONT, Canada.

The lack of photos of Raymond’s actual HATS is evident in this overview. More posts will follow to display a wide array of styles and the HEADLINER series.

Other posts on this blog with information about Raymond and his hats:

https://froufrou4youyou.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/chicago-millinery-history-raymond-hudds-paper-ephemera/

https://froufrou4youyou.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/chicago-millinery-history-school-of-the-art-institute-of-chicago-millinery-awards-2014/

https://froufrou4youyou.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/chicago-millinery-history-cats-pajamas-vintage-clothing-jewelry-and-textile-show-and-sale/

https://froufrou4youyou.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/chicago-service-club-luncheon-raymond-hudd/

https://froufrou4youyou.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/chicago-millinery-history-the-raymond-hudd-awards-for-school-of-the-art-insitute-of-chicago/

https://froufrou4youyou.wordpress.com/2012/03/18/chicago-millinery-history-raymond-hudd-lives-on/

https://froufrou4youyou.wordpress.com/2011/07/20/chicago-millinery-historyraymond-hudds-last-millinery-consultation-the-end-of-an-era/

https://froufrou4youyou.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/raymond-hudd-and-the-spring-hat-2011/

https://froufrou4youyou.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/angelas-wonderful-raymond-hudd-presentation/

 

  1. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-07-26/news/ct-met-huddlestun-obit-20110726_1_raymond-hudd-milliner-barnyard-mules
  2. http://www.mlive.com/entertainment/muskegon/index.ssf/2010/08/mason_county_native_raymond_hu.html
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Phillip_Bell
  4. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-07-26/news/ct-met-huddlestun-obit-20110726_1_raymond-hudd-milliner-barnyard-mules
  5. https://www.chicagohistory.org/raymondhudd/

Additional sources:

  1. http://www.obitoftheday.com/post/8065533475/raymondhudd
  2. http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Raymond-Hudd-A-look-back-at-the-milliner-of-the-millennium/33267.html
  3. https://www.pinterest.com/mrobak/vintage-hat-raymond-hudd/

 

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Chicago Millinery History: Saks Fifth Ave on Michigan Ave in the 1920s. April 2, 2017

Saks Fifth Avenue was established in New York City in 1924. They had branched out with Palm Beach, FL and Southampton, N.Y, resort stores successfully in 1928, and then decided Chicago was the next on their horizon. Opened at 840 N. Michigan Ave, in March  of 1929, they faced serious long established competitors. In the log written by the head of Charles A Stevens, a worthy competitor, there was concern of several of their employees having been lured away to be employed by Saks.

Saks found their newest home in a recent hot spot, in what is now a still vibrant fashion shopping Mecca, north Michigan Ave. It is oft referred to now as the Magnificent Mile. It was only after the opening of the Michigan Ave Bridge/DuSable Bridge with the Tribune Tower on the north side in 1920 did old Pine Street become a desirable destination. The Drake Hotel, between Walton and Oak, anchored the north end of the business, hotel and shopping expansion. 

SAKS AD 2-17-29

Feb 17 a group of north Michigan avenue retailers combined to be featured in a full page Chicago Tribune advertisement, with a map in the center. The Saks store ad indicates an early March opening. They would have been in the same Michigan Chestnut Building as two shops in this form of weekly Sunday ad, run over the next few weeks. The Chintz Shop would not have competed, and may have welcomed the arrival of Saks. Later the Don Lynn fashion shop may have had great reservations about the future.

The Women’s Athletic Club at 626 N. Michigan opened in April, 1929 and was a great draw to this hotly developing shopping area. They were the new home March 1 of the first branch of a successful shop on Diversy, the Leslie Shop. http://glessnerhouse.blogspot.com/2013/02/womans-athletic-club-of-chicago.html

One should not confuse Leslie with Leschin, another fashion spot. Leschin had Jack Leschin listed as a manufacturer of millinery in the 1920 census, living at 831 Ainslie with his family. In 1910 he had been a manager of a cloak factory in Kansas City.

McAvoy at 615 N. Michigan Ave ran an ad March 11 to welcome Saks. McAvoy’s ads regularly boasted of their Fashion Board, made up of prominent Chicago women: Badger, Farrell, King, Madlener, Meeker, McCormick, Mitchell, Otis, Winston, and Winterbotham. Another ad of theirs also on March 11 mentions clothes in the Debutante room started at $45 (equal to $635.35 in 2017.)

Saks must have been recognized by the world of criminals as well as shoppers as a place of value. June 15 found them robbed of $5,000 cash and $15,000 in jewels at the close of business, in a terrifying holdup. One wonders if Miss Florence Geraldson, the cashier, had been a former Stevens employee who wished she had never left. The thieves escaped, having worn “canvas gloves and sneakers.” 

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Kleenex was on sale in a large cosmetics ad Sept 8, 1929, and again in Nov, at Saks for $.33, in the new larger size. Hopefully the wise women invested, as the stock market crash was just weeks away. Kleenex had started in 1924 as a Hollywood product to remove theatrical makeup and cold cream, which was why it was still featured in the cosmetics department at Saks. In 1926 “A test was conducted in the Peoria, Illinois newspaper. Ads were run depicting the two main uses of Kleenex; either as a means to remove cold cream or as disposable handkerchief for blowing noses. The readers were asked to respond. Results showed that 60% used Kleenex tissue for blowing their nose. By 1930, Kimberly-Clark had changed the way they advertised Kleenex and sales doubled proving that the customer is always right.https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-kleenex-tissue-1992033c

For fashion, Saks sought the well heeled client. They were proud to feature the designs of Jane Regny https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Régny

For the person who pulls themselves away from the newspaper headlines daily about the world covering Zeppelin travels, including a stop in Chicago August 29, they may have noticed the full page ad Sept 3, 1929 for the newly opened jewelry store on Michigan Ave.

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After checking out the new place, then one could head over to Saks for some lovely items from Molyneaux. If that did not draw one, perhaps the ad on the sixth for the allure of Vionnet fashions did entice one to the store. The social elite of the city were returning from their summer homes in Lake Forest, Wheaton and Barrington, as the season was about to start here again. Attending a debut of the chosen few young women certainly required a gown from a Paris house, even if one had not toured Europe to select it there oneself. 

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No other ads were placed by Saks in the Tribune during the early fall of 1929, tho Sept 28 alerts one to the new furs from Mr. Perry A. Weinberg. Perhaps they were trying other papers to see what kind of response the others drew. Or they realized the magnitude of financial woes ahead, and felt it better to conserve their advertising dollars. Whatever financial concerns they had, they still proceeded in expansion to two additional floors in the the building they occupied, as reported Oct. 5, 1929.

By mid Sept it was clear there were financial concerns for the city. Headlines had told of the county being unable to pay their bills, especially salaries, including those of judges. They would get IOUs thru the end of the year. A reassessment of property in the county was a hopeful way to be fairer, and gain more tax revenue. That had potential but as people would be losing jobs in the future, it is not too likely as many would be able to pay those taxes. Sept 19, 1929 had a Tribune headline that the city had a  32%  deficit. That would play out to include no pay for plenty of their employees as well, including school teachers. That day they feared the dismissal of 2,000 city policemen and 800 firemen, a potentially dire situation. The city had reassessed real estate property values in 1928, had borrowed against the anticipated higher tax revenue which did not materialize, making for a mess of a financial deficit going into 1930. This news deflected from the previous big issue of the 4,000 county employees being unpaid since Sept 15.

October 25, 1929 was the final blow to the stock market. No Saks Fifth Avenue ads ran that day either. One might imagine the staff spent much of the day concerned for the future, and wondering if the holiday shopping season, soon to start, would be anything like they had hoped for when they were planning it in earlier months.

Much newspaper mention has been made of the stock market crash the end of Oct, a trigger for the Great Depression ahead. It has been a volatile market since at least the spring, and bank failures and suicides had been happening even before the crash. Those just seemed like more isolated incidents till economic gloom became better recognized. 

What other events occurred for which a new dress and hat would be desired by a lady in Chicago? The opera? Yes. Theater? Yes. The new production of Eugene O’ Niel’s third Pulitzer Prize winning “Strange Interlude” opened to 1200 attendees. The Stevens Hotel, across the street, and the theater arranged a special dinner interlude. The performance started at 5:30, and the 1.25 hr intermission was a time for theater goers to dine at the hotel, then return for the final acts of this 5 hour, nine act play. It sounds like an excellent idea, at only $1.50 for the meal, as Thanksgiving dinner was $2, vs $2.50 at the Palmer House.

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A practical purchase for gifts or oneself, if only to save one’s hat from rain and snow, would have been the special on Nov 23 for umbrellas at a mere $7.50. Just after Thanksgiving Saks featured shoes for $9.85 for values to $27.50, and the same ad is repeated several days.

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One wondered if Saks actually sold hats, a mystery solved when a semi annual clearance sale is announced Dec 2, and millinery is mentioned. Whew! One could relax, tho no hat photos make one wonder if they were all a cloche style, or perhaps a bit more adventurous. 

Speaking of the ads themselves, most Saks ads were rather bland. The two cosmetic ads were simply lists of items with prices, and the shoe sale showed no shoes. Even the biggest ads in the fall for Vionnet and Molyneaux were copies of typed letters from the fashion houses. The aura of mystery was certainly the approach Saks took. Lots of competitors featured lovely drawings, such as Blum’s Vogue Dec ____1929. 

But finally Saks has pulled out all the stops for a full page ad on Dec 8, a Sunday paper, to draw those Christmas shoppers inside their doors. The image contained an Art Deco feel of a woman holding a ship. They were not selling ships, but selling the allure of imported goods, especially French items. 

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They followed up on Dec. 12 to entice gift givers to select a purse, with prices which ranged to $250. ( Or $3,530 in 2017)

1929 BAGS

For the bargain hunter, The Fair, a reputable mid-price department store, had an ad of handbags ranging to $15.That week Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co showed “original couturier bags from Lelong, Patou, Worth, Lanvin, and Paquin at $15 to $35.” All the ads were of little use from Dec 18th, and 19th, as a blizzard had hit Chicago, “the worst of a decade.” It caused 12 deaths, and plummeted the temps to zero. For shoppers who had left that gift buying task for the last weekend before Christmas, the city was a mess. 900 shovelers and 75 trucks were working to clear the downtown; the rest of the city had to wait for it to melt.

OG BAGS

By Dec 21 O’Conner and Goldberg, known as OG, the store for shoes, had to do something with their 1,500 handbags, which were marked down to $5, from $27.50.

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By Dec 23 even Saks had to move their $7.50-$10 purses, marked down to $4.95. Perhaps we have a case of handbag wars, where sellers were bound and determined those lovely little evening bags with so much holiday appeal get out their doors, one way or another. http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1929/12/23/page/4/article/display-ad-3-no-title

How many people trudged thru the snow for these bargains is unknown. But teachers were not going shopping for many gifts. The city was so broke for weeks they could not be paid, no matter what they went thru to get to work during the blizzard. Loop departments stores placed ads specifically telling teachers they could open credit accounts immediately. In a last minute deal borrowed funds were found to give teachers their checks on Dec. 24th. But sadly for them things would be worse in 1930, with far worse gaps unpaid. For now, Chicagoans went about their business of celebrating a white Christmas, a bit diminished, but hopeful of a new year of hats and handbags. Maybe they even went inside Saks, just to see what it was all about, even if buying their hats seemed outrageous.