FrouFrou 4 YouYou

Chicago Millinery History: Martha Rahl March 11, 2017


Martha Rahl had quite the location for her millinery establishment at 202 S. Michigan Ave, the Pullman Building, seen above, at the corner of Michigan and Adams. This is the west side of the street, across from the Art Institute of Chicago. The block west of Michigan was Wabash, and on that entire block north of Adams were the millinery meccas of Gage Hat and Edson Keith, primarily wholesalers. It was an excellent location, her last location.

downtown street building drawing of lots

Looking at the drawing of the Pullman Building in block 5,, one sees the western half of the block north, block 4, with the Palmer House across from it. The Pullman building had been built in 1893, by the Pullmans who built rail cars, with two other mega buildings south of the downtown area. They put their executives in offices of this ten story building, and included the first floor of shops. At the time of this map it shows the south edge of the Pullman building butting the Palmer House stables,(Red arrow), probably an unpleasantly fragrant place. By the time Martha had her shop in the Pullman Building the stables had been replaced in 1904 by the Chicago Orchestra Hall, now known as Symphony Center. The other shops in the Pullman building in 1926 included linens, gloves and corsets, books, cigars, the Tip Top Cafรฉ, and best of all, Fannie May Candy.

Fannie May candy has been around since their first shop in 1920 at 11 N. LaSalle, north of the financial district, several blocks west of Michigan Ave. By the time we find Martha’s shop listed in a directory in 1923, Fannie May had 22 shops, making their $.70/lb candy quite the draw for anyone near the building. That foot traffic could only have augmented the foot traffic into Martha’s shop as well.

Backtracking to the earlier years for Martha and we find her listed in a directory for Houston, TX in 1900, as a trimmer at Miss Katie G. Welch, located at 615 Main St, and rooming at 818 Main St. Katie also roomed at the same location.

Sometime after that she came to Chicago, as the first ad we find is in 1905.The shop was at 30 N. Michigan and remained there till she moved a block away, sometime after 1917.

Martha does not appear in the 1900 Polk directory, the 1904, 1906, 1910 Blue Book, nor oddly the 1910 directory, yet she advertised in the Blue Book back in 1905. The same ad appears in the 1915 issue of the Blue Book, so she did not give up on it entirely.She appears in a 1917 Directory still at 30 N. Michigan, suite 615.

The 1910 census has Martha, 26, as a milliner living as a lodger at 2018 Independence in Chicago. A residence address in 1923 is given for 4462 Woodlawn, and her occupation is listed as ladies ready to wear.


It seems likely Martha read thru the 1904 issue and looked at the millinery competition, thinking she could do well in reaching out to the biggest spenders. Maison Novelle ran a full page ad just inside the cover. The ten milliners with ads were scattered around the city. None had shops on Michigan Ave, tho two had locations in the Masonic Temple. Many other shops existed, they just did not advertise in the Blue Book.

The Masonic Temple was built in 1892, and was considered the tallest building in Chicago from 1895-1899 at twelve stories. It’s location on the northeast corner of Randolph and State is now a Walgreens, across from Macy’s store, the former Marshall Field store.


The two milliners from the Masonic Temple were Mrs. Marguerite Prucka on the fifth floor, and Madam Hunt on the twelfth floor. Madam Hunt’s ad also included her title as President of the National Milliners Association.

Hats were sold in department stores, apparel shops and millinery shops. Knowing who your overall competition is remains a fundamental aspect of successful marketing, especially in the immediate vicinity, including apparel stores and department stores.
Two of the big players nearby in the high end fashion apparel stores would be Blum’s and Leschin.

Blum’s Vogue

624 S. Michigan Avenue was built in 1908 for the Chicago Musical College,ย  headed by Florenz Ziegfield Sr. Mr. Ziegfeld was the father of the Broadway Follies producer Flo Ziegfield, Jr. Topping off at 15 floorsย  in 1922 they had the building renamed the Blum Building.


318 Michigan Ave South.
In 1916 Jack Leschin, who had handled the millinery department for the now defunct Ferguson Dept store, opened in the old Ferguson location. Capitalized at $100,000 he partnered with several who had been associated with Bonwit Teller in NYC.
In 1921 “Samuel Leschin, milliner” leased space for 10 years fronting State St at Jackson for millinery. Is this a relative of Jack’s?

An ad from Leschin on March 4, 1925 features a lace and taffeta dress for $75. That is a high end dress, $933.37 in 2017 dollars.
Oct 8 1929 full page ad features Leschin designs, including draped on the head hats for $18.50. Since the Stock Market Crash of 1929 started Oct 24, one wonders how many shoppers regretted some of their expensive fashion investments. The Depression impacted all retail, but Leschin weathered things well enough to move to classier digs in 1931.

Department stores two blocks to the west of Michigan Ave, on State Street, drew a high concentration of shoppers.

Perhaps Martha had the time to read the Sunday Tribune newspaper on March 1, 1925. That year Easter was April 12, so the last minute rush was not upon her just yet.
To look at the ads for millinery from her closest competitors, one finds a variety of price point items. Mid-priced and lower priced millinery could be found at $5 for Felts at Mandels, Hillmans, with a 26th Anniversary Sale, of 5000 hats at $4.45, and Sears, Roebuck and Co. at $3.45-$3.85.
mar 2 1925 fields ad
Since Marshall Field and Co. did not advertise on Sunday, one would need to wait for the full page fashion ad of Monday, March 2, 1925. The drawing in the center of the page shows the narrow lines of the dresses, and the cloche hats. It was Spring Opening that day, with plenty of loyal customers headed downtown to make their selection. The paragraph on the right side of the print section advises the reader to select a “Wee Sleekit Beastie” rhinestone pin of horses, owls, elephants, dogs, peacocks and lions for $1.50, as they “are quite correct for Spring bonnets.”

carsons ad mar 2 1925

Carson Pirie Scott and Co featured some hats at $15 in their ad.

mar 1 1925 fashion article
One of the fashion articles March 1 indicated the silhouette had not really changed, and an ad for the high end Johnson & Harwood completed the other half of the page. Three pages filled with the women of society and club activities would have caught Martha’s attention, as her clientele were likely to include some society ladies. Keep in mind the Blue Book ad twenty years before which Martha ran in 1905, and in 1915, had her hats costing $10-$150.

Directories for the city with the Pullman Building mention the Martha Rahl shop thru 1930. It makes one wonder if the Depression took it’s toll on the business.

Sadly tho, it seems the spring fashion pages of 1925 were the last for Martha herself, as for unknown reasons she died on July 19, 1925. She had lived on the south side, and was buried at a south side cemetery, Oak Woods at 1035 East 67th Street.

Martha may have only lived 43 years, but she saw a lot of hats from Michigan to Houston to Chicago, having had one of the finest shops on Michigan Avenue.

Name: Martha Rahl
Birth Date: 30 Sep 1881
Birth Place: Battle Creek, Michigan
Death Date: 19 Jul 1925
Death Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois
Burial Date: 21 Jul 1925
Cemetery Name: Oakwoods
Death Age: 43
Occupation: Manager – apparel shop
Race: White
Marital Status: S
Gender: Female
Residence: Chicago, Cook, Illinois
Father Name: Walter Rahl
Father Birth Place: Scarnton, Pennsylvania
Mother Birth Place: New York, New York

Chicago Millinery History: Marshall Field and Co’s Forum of International Fashion February 24, 2016

imageSpring 1946 was the first season post WorldWarII when Amrican women could look forward to fashion without the constraints of rationing and serious shortages of options. Marshall Field and Company was ready and raring to go. Some ingenious planning was bringing seventeen US and international designers to the 28 Shop of the State Street store. The Forum of International Fashion was introduced to the public with a full page advertisement in the Chicago Tribune on April 7, 1946, followed each day with an almost full page ad to announce that day’s designer.

To put things in context, after the Forum ad for each day, several other fashion ads are included. Other retailers were not about to let all the attention and discretionary spending go to Marshall Field and Co.



The names of some of the famous designers are not very familiar 70 years later. Others have stood the test of time, such as the first designer, Elsa Schiaparelli.


April 8 Elsa Schiaparelli

Italian designer, working in Paris, known for artistic, out of the box creations, and her legacy of the color Shocking Pink.ย


Other ads for April 8:




April 9 Pauline Trigere
French designer, working in New York, who worked for Hattie Carneige before going solo.ยรจre


Others ads for April 9:




4/10 Alix Gres
French designer, working in Paris, who claimed her greatest accomplishment was finding Rodier jersey. Also known as Madame Gres, tho her name was actually Germaine Emilie Krebs, and known as Alix Barton.รจs


Other ads for April 10:




4/11 Nettie Rosenstein
American designer, working in New York, who created the inaugural gown for First Lady Mamie Eisenhower.ย


Other ads for April 11:




April 12 Peter Russell
English designer working in London, he was best known for his suits. Sadly a name rarely, if ever, recalled these days.


Other ads ย for April 12:




April 13 Omar Kiam

American designer, working in NY and Hollywood, he was known for movie creations till he left in 1941.


Other April 13 ย ads:




Aprilย 14 Lucien Lelong
French fashion manufacturer, working in Paris. He worked with designer Pierre Balmain.


Other April 14 ads:




April 15 Norman Norell
New York designer who worked in costuming, then worked for Hattie Carniege from 1928 until 1941. After a partnership business, he went solo with much success. A vintage dress was worn by First Lady Michele Obama in 2010.


Other April 15 ads





April 16 Pierre Balmain
French designer, who worked in Paris, with several fragrances still worn today. He is known for having recognized the talent of Karl Lagerfeld, now head designer for Chanel, as well as Fendi.ย


Other April 16 ads:




April 17 Jo Copeland
American designer, who was well regarded for her After Five designs.


Other April 17 ads:




April 18 Anthony Blotta
American designer, known for wool suits and coats.


Other April 18 ads:




April 19 Germaine Legroux
Nothing is found online.


Other ads April 19:




April 20 Angele Delanghe
Belgian designer working in London, known for soft tailoring.


Other April 20 ads:




Marshall Field and Co did not take the day off from the Forum, even tho it isย Sunday. Easter Sunday, no less, when many of the finest fashions were worn with pride.

4/21 Adrian, just Adrian. He was one of the most legendary American designers.

American designer, working in Hollywood, known for work in films, the red slippers for Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, and his own couture house.


Ads and the magazine cover from the paper April 21:





April 22 Hardy Amies
London designer, SIR Edwin Hardy Aimes, best known as official dressmaker to Queen ElizabethII.


One April 22 ad, and a back page spread of what was worn that Easter Sunday:




April 23 Hattie Carnegie
Viennese designer, working in New York, known for her head to hem concept of dressing women, as she started as a milliner. She recognized the talents of Norman Norell, Pauline Trigere, and James Galanos.


Other April 23 ads:




April 24 Balenciaga
Spanish designer, working in Paris, known for evening wear. Also noted is Balenciaga brown, introduced by Marshall Field and Co in 1938. One rarely hears of it much in this century, unlike the Shocking Pink of Schiaparelli.


Other April 24 ads:




And so we end the Forum of International Fashion from Marshall Field and Co. ย Chicago certainly did have a moment in the sun for fashion in 1946.



Chicago Millinery History: Elsa Schiaparelli February 23, 2016


Fabulous books on Elsa Schiaparelli add to the allure of all things ELSA. Especially when the person with the largest collection of her creations has put that story into words. BillyBoy is a fashion geru of this day. His first encounter with “Schiap” creations was a hat he found in a Paris flea market when he was 14. The book comes out July, 2016.



Books of the 21st century written on Elsa have totaled 8 since the 2007 reissue of the 1954 Shocking Life: the autobiography of Elsa Schiaparelli by Elsa Schiaparelli.

My “book report” could never cover all the fine tidbits from those, so the following is just to wet you appetite for more. Besides the soon to be released book, Frocking Life: Searching for Elsa Schiaparelli, by BillyBoy, there was a charming one released in 2015, written for youth, Hot Pink. Susan Goldman Rubin brings out the best of the story, without the hot tidbits of a sometimes off color life. When the term Shocking Pink was coined to describe her signature color, there was also plenty shocking about her life as well.


It is also nice to read an adult biography with many fine qualities established from the life of one of the worlds most successful fashion designers. Meryle Secrest brings out plenty in her 2014 book, Elsa Schiaparelli: a biography.


Also out in 2014 was a collection of unseen family photos, by Schiap’s granddaughter, model, Marisa Berenson. Elsa Schiaparelli’s Album adds new meaning to her love of family.

Who was this woman we revere as a fashion icon between the two world wars?

Born 1890-1973 she left Rome for a life spent back and forth from New York to Paris. In Paris she won the fashion world attention with her sweaters, then moved along the fashion continuum to sportswear to all manner of apparel, including hats and other museum worthy designs.

A fascination with Surealism led to oft references as an artist who worked in fabric. She was the leading designer who based inspiration from Jean Cocteau and Salvador Dali on the backs and heads of women. The Chicago History Museum exhibit in 2008-09, CHIC CHICAGO featured one simple beige dress with the well know jacket of a woman’s hair cascading down the sleeve and profile across the chest.


Schiaparelli made hats to draw attention to herself, as well as others. It is said the lamb chop hat with a white frill at the bone was the first of her hats to gain attention for the absurd.

Famous women wore her hats. Marlene Deitrich is known for a photo among hats with a cigarette and legs outstretched. Mrs. Daisy Fellows, former Harper Bazaar editor, was the one who wore the shoe hat and brought Americans to their knees in awe over her Schiaparelli look. The shoe hat was originally inspired by Salvadore Dali, a Surrealist artist who collaborated on her fashion design.



Elsa did animal skin hats, with the face of a big cat looking on as she wore this on her own head. Rather distracting, if I say so myself. Mostly Elsa favored wearing turbans.


She had one design that was the most copied. It was a knit tube with one end closed, called a MadCap. This was copied by Madcaps company founder Mr. Soloman, who retired a millionaire to Florida. Schiap came to despise the design as she came to see it everywhere. Imitations were sold finally at the five and dime and perhaps those worn on the head of each newborn was the tipping point for her dismay. She then had her staff dispose of any of their design and prohibited talking of it again. The part where imitation is the greatest form of flattery did not work for Schiaparelli.

Top Ten Tidbits on Schiaparelli
#1 Born 9/10/1890, died 11/13/1973.
Born in Italy to a mother of aristocracy ( and some Scottish background), and father a professor and scholar of old coins. Her uncle, was an astronomer who found the canals of Mars. Elsa had an older beautiful sister, but Elsa had “beauty marks” on her face referred to as the Big Dipper, by her uncle.

#2 Hated name Elsa, called herself Schiap.
Even in youth the name Elsa was not acceptable to her, and insisted everyone call her Schiap. Her parent were hoping for a boy, and had no name for a girl. At her christening they chose Elsa, the name of her nurse, not your typical choice. Her youth was anything but dull. She was sent by her family to a Swissย boarding convent school, but her wild side did not fit well with expectations. She went on a hunger strike, which resulted in her father coming to bring her back home, ending the 3 month education. Some near miss marriages occurred, one with a much older man, an Arab while she was 13 and visiting in Tunisia, which her father would not allow. An arranged marriage to a wealthy Russian would not be acceptable to Elsa no matter how hard she was persuaded by her family. She may have been enamored by a lower class fellow, who may have really been the love of her life, as she called out his name several times upon her deathbed.
Once on her own she went to attend a fancy event in Paris, but without a suitable gown she was left to create an emergency outfit. She did not know how to sew, but purchased many yards of fabric and kept it together with pins. While dancing a tango the pins were falling out at an astonishing rate to the point she had to be shielded by her escort to depart before a total unveiling.

#3 Moved to NYC in 1922 but divorced when deserted, age 31.
In 1914 she married a man of questionable repute, a “Count” de Kerlor. She had attended a lecture by him on theosophy, but she did not leave the audience when other attendees left. By morning they were engaged. He, tho, was lured away during their marriage by the charms of Isadore Duncan. Isadore died when her long scarf caught in her car’s axle in 1927 and was strangled. He sought fame in some manner as a psychic detective, and writer. Fortune did not follow. He ended up murdered in Mexico at the age of 39.

#4 One daughter, Gogo. Born Maria Luisa, but then her father deserted mother and child, who had Polio. Some felt Schiap was not close to her daughter, but some thought her ingenious with what she did to support her. The blow that led to speculation was when Gogo married in NY while her mother was in Paris, unaware of the marriage.

#5 Initial success was a knit sweater done in 1927, in Paris. She had left NYC in 1922 and found rejection in Paris, closing in 1926. The sweater was of a knit she had seen made by Armenians. She commissioned them to create for her, which became wildly successful.

#6 Long standing disdain for Coco Chanel.
Chanel was established when Schiap came back to Paris. Very different styles. After WWII there was a downward spiral for Schiap, while Chanel reopened in 1954 with ongoing success, heavily based upon American appreciation.

#7 Signature color legacy Shocking Pink.
It embodied her overall philosophy of shocking people with her actions. Her erotic poetry as a teenager is said to have essentially brought her much criticism from family. Accounts vary if this was when she was 14 or 21. Her fashion designs could be just as provocative, as in the Lobster dress for the trousseau of Wallis Simpson, soon to be Mrs. Windsor.
There was a lamb chop hat worn by Gala Dali, Mrs. Salvatore Dali, with a suit of drawers for pockets.
Daisy Fellows, of Harpers Bazaar, wore the shoe hat, based upon the inspiration of Salvatore Dali.

#8 Autobiography “Shocking Life.”
This 1954 book did not receive critical acclaim, mostly based on the manner in which it was written. Some felt if she would have allowed for a collaboration with a writer, things would have been better.
The 2014 biography, Elsa Schiaparelli by M. Secrest also focused on the speculation thatย Schiap was a WWII German collaborator. Records are reviewed which were kept monthly by the FBI on her for two and a half years.
In 2013 there was an exhibit of designs by Prada and Schiaparelli in NY.That book is a wonderful review of her work; ” Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations.”

#9 Business bankrupt and closed 1954.
Returned from the US after the war to find her business intact, and reopened. The upswing of the Dior New Look in 1947 was the fashion world favorite, leaving the Hard Chic Schiap designs out cold. Closed in 1954, but licensing was an area in which she excelled. Perfume, lingerie, eyewear, and hats seem to be the likely best fit. Endorsements of other companies became an important aspect as well.

#10 Two granddaughters. Berry Berenson Perkins, (Mrs. Tony Perkins, wife of the actor who died in 1996 of AIDS), had two sons, Oz Perkins and Elvis Perkins. Berry had been a photographer who died in 9/11 when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the Twin Towers. The other granddaughter is Marisa Berenson, actress and model, supportive of the revived Schiaparelli label. Marisa lived with Schiap and had a closeness that may have been greater than she had with her own daughter, Gogo. Marisa faced criticism in the 1970s at her short mini skirt wardrobe from Schiap, even tho Schiap was most known for her controversial designs. Marisa was with her till the end. Her legacy? Beyond the designs, there are others who worked for her early in their careers, such as Hubert Givency, and Pierre Cardin. In 2006 Diego Della Villa bought the company name, and in August 2013 brought on Marco Zanini. The first collection appeared in 2014.The revival of the company has pleased Marisa, and it seems the legacy of fashion may live on.

Hats:Lamb chop,ย Shoe,ย Hens Nest,ย Ink Pot,ย Telephone, Lobster



Hats in Chicago?

In April 1946 Marshall Field, and Co held a month long event, Forum of International Fashion. They brought in ย seventeen designers from the US and abroad. Elsa Schiaparelli was the first designer to present, on April 8, 1946. The ad for the Forum was an entire page, sure to catch the eye of every female reader.



For an overview of the entire Forum, the Chicgao Tribune started off with a full page to ย introduce the daily stars:ย

(For more information on the Forum, see blog entry of Feb. 24, 2016)

It certainly would be wonderful to have seen those fashions, and the hats made for each ensemble.

Back to the present. Some of the books mentioned are in local libraries, but having those photos to savor again and again is easily accomplished. Visit your local independent bookseller and have them order it, if it is not already in stock. Chicagoans can head to Bookends and Beginning, in Evanston. They are more than willing to order, just call, then visit.





Chicago Millinery History: The Chicago Jubilee of 1931


What was the 1931 Chicago Jubilee?
City Editor of the Chicago Tribune, Mr. Robert M. Lee, had asked the newspaper publisher to be allowed to take a vacation to Europe. The publisher was not quick to agree, but offered instead if Mr. Lee were able to create a large scale event that benefitted the city, he could consider the request.

Three weeks later the Jubilee was held in downtown Chicago. Mr. Lee accomplished a significant amount of planning in a very short time. The event consisted of merchants and industry creating assorted focal events across one week, starting May 11, 1931. Most events were scheduled in the evening to boost business, and garner more after work attendees.

A parade of 150 floats one day, another day’s events had 1,500 singers in a caravan singing thru the streets. Fireworks display in Grant Park, and carnival in Pilsen another day were a big daw. Other events: A boxing exhibition at Soldier Field; cute baby contest; High School ROTC unit review at Stagg Field; streetย dancing on Ohio between St. Clair and Michigan Ave. A tournament was held at Washington Park; a dedication of a replica of Fort Dearborn. Last but not least, the chance for a few fortunate Chicagoans to be a bit richer, with a contest with prizes worth $5,000.

Stores had advertised special merchandise and in-store guests.

Although hat advertisements were scattered throughout the week, the
Saturday ads for the culmination of the week indicate retailers made a good effort to clear end of spring season stock, and bolster sales of the new mesh style hat.
Saks Fifth Avenue held a sale on the main floor of millinery for 200 hats at $5, usually priced $25. Junior hats on the third floor were just $3.50 with hats of values to $15 were available.

Milgrim Hats on South Michigan Blvd were marked down to $10 from $35. Marshall Field featured sample hats for $10 on their 5th floor.

Mandels was featuring a $5 mesh hat for summer, a new fabric it seems. Carson Pirie Scott and Co called it a “Rag of a Hat” in 10 colors and charged $5.25.


Other stores also had bargains, like



For the woman not looking for a big bargain, but her basic summer hat, a nice Panama straw would be a good investment. Maurice L. Rothschild at State and Jackson had Stetson Pamama straws for $15. Other Panama straws ranged from$7.50-$30.

This is was an ideal time to really advertise for gift giving for Mother’s Day:


There were probably some shoppers who were not going to get into the city, so Marshall Field added additional full page ads for the Evanston and the Oak Park stores:



A Tribune article on May 31, 1931 indicates merchants found the Jubilee a major success and stimulus for trade. It seems the city had gone through a difficult winter, which was no surprise since this was the Depression. The Tribune publisher, and City Editor Mr. Lee had done well for the city.

The event for Mr. Lee culminated by taking the trip to Europe, sailing May 16 on the Il de France.


Chicago Millinery History: Spring 1956 January 26, 2016


Spring is headed for Chicago in 1956 and it will be most welcome. March advertisements in the Chicago Tribune newspaper tease readers with fresh new coats and hats. Clearly too soon to be worn just yet, tho the temperature was predicted to be mid 50s, on March 1. This is warm enough to happily anticipate the warmth of spring soon to come. Easter arrives April 1, so it is not too soon to decide just what hat to wear.

The Fair features a large expanse of fabric coat, but the icing on the cake is a cherry hat. Roberta Bernays designs run $12.98, in seven colors, including Dior blue, available on the third floor Millinery Salon. For the cherry lover these would have been a bargain, as later in the week one would have to go to Evanston or Highland Park to Edgar A. Stevens to pick their cherry hats from $27.50-$35.

Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co has a three day special of hats for a mere $8. But if you wanted a real bargain of a white hat, head to Sears for the $2.55 sale!


For those with deeper pockets there is excitement at Mandel Bros on March 1, and March 2 in the French Room, on 5, at the State St store. Russ Russell, a Chicago milliner, will be sharing his “Portrait of a Lady” hats, ranging from $29.50-$45.


Some more devoted to high fashion would want to wait a bit to see the newest fromย Paris. Rea Steeger reports “From Paris to Chicago by Air” features Givenchy, Dior, Fath, and Sven creations. The high end copies and originals would likely show up at Marshall Field’s within a few short weeks.


March 2, a Friday, had only one hat shown, at Charles A. Stevens, for $10.95. Friday newspapers focused on food and all the grocery ads to send the homemaker in the right direction for Kraft Velvetta cheese, one pound for $.47.


March 3, Saturday has nine hats shown, within a feature on suits, showing interest for suits in the back as well as the front. This article in the Today With Women pages, shows fashions sold at Charles A. Stevens.


March 4, and things improve with the Sunday paper. A $3.98 lilac hat at Lane Bryant, and a $3.19 hat at Goldblatt’s department store. The paper features many mid price and lower department store multiple page ads. Great if you are looking for furniture or household items, not great for hats.

The Fair showed one for $7.95 by Chapeaux Louise, and Hats by Sue showed a hatbox, stating hats were $5-$25.

The Wilson Hat Shop on S. Ashland had one hat featured for $10.95.

The 53year old Gately’s dept store on the south side was showing a small hat for $5.98.
Jan Bark, who created hats in Chicago, was doing a special appearance at The Fair with a hat shown priced at $16.95.


Stanley Korshak has a striking hat with scarf for $39.50.

The best news is offered by Carson, Pirie, Scott, who will be starting a series of fashion shows, featuring millinery as of Tues. March. 6, at the Empire Room of the Palmer House. Although the 3/4 page ad mentions the show, the drawings are of dresses by Mollie Parnis, Herbert Sondheim, Anna Miller, Harvey Berin, Oleg Casinni, and Adele Simpson. Some of the names are still well recognized today.

March 5, Monday starts a new fashion week. Saks Fifth Avenue is showing Coconut Meringues, priced at $17.95 for a Blinker Bonnet, and $18.95 for a Breton, in navy, white, black or beige. They could be found in Moderate Priced Hats on the 5th floor at 669N. Michigan Ave.


Bonwit Teller, at 830N. Michigan Ave featured a daisy chain hat for $35 by Irene of New York, in white, yellow, pink, navy and black. The best part was one could meet Irene while in store Tues or Wed.
Mandel Bros shows a $29.50 Model T Skimmer Straw. On the other hand the Today With Women article shows a photo of a very similar hat, again called a Model T, by Irene of New York at her appearance at Bonwit Teller in white, certainly priced higher than the Mandel Bros one.

Marshall Field’s Budget Store has rolled out all the stops with $3.30 hats.


Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co has gone all out with a full page ad, showing hats and shoes. The hats were by Sally Victor for $79.50, Sam Budwig for $20, Mr. Arnold for $45, Mr. Phil for $20, Wm. Silverman for $29.50, and Chanda for $69.50.

March 6, reveals Maurice L. Rothschild has told of an upcoming fashion show Wed, March 7, of hats, including their own line of Ronnie hats. Also to be shown by Miss Mary Wyman, a NY hat stylist, were those of Mr. Arnold, H. Howard Hodge, Alfreda, Gardner, Helen Joyce, Mr. John Jr, Chanda, Phil Strann, Silverman and Adrienne. For added allure would be 3 hats awarded as door prizes. A special pair of photos by the newspaper show 2 hats to be included in the event; one a Pilgrim Breton by Mr. Arnold for $55, and Salad Bowl by Ronnie for $15.
Other ads have a straw swathed in organza shown by Saks Fifth Ave from $25-$29.95.
Kay’s Millinery Supply 17 N. Wabash, ( formerly 320 Michigan Ave) has sample hats $2 -$5, as well as flowers from $.10-$.50.


March 7 has only one small hat ad from Stevens for a little “belt and buckle” hat for $7.95. The real interest for fashion reading is the article by Rea Steeger on the narrow silhouette. Photos are shown of a narrow skirted suit at Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co, gowns at Bonwit Teller and Elizabeth Arden, and one photo of a large oversize inverted bowl of a hat, from Elizabeth Arden. Elizabeth Arden? Yes, from the 1910 cosmetic company, which was started by Florence Nightingale Graham of Canada, who dropped out of nursing school to move to NY and follow her dream. The fashion show, sponsored by the Chicago Fashion Group, was held at the Morrison Hotel, built in 1925, but torn down in 1965 for the First National Bank Building.

March 8ย Cherries on hats are now appearing on hats at Sears, for $3.99.
A full page hat ad for Marshall Fields shows six hats priced $13.95 to $69.50.
Mandel Bros has an $8.95 trio of hats “Snow White dwarfs all others for Easter”, including a hat with the hottest trend, cherries.


March 9 took a break from hats in the newspaper, but then March 10 made up for it.
Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co has a vine covered cloche for $7.95, but their real story is a fashion show for teens, including several hats mentioned and shown. The article mentions teens are invited and it will be “complete with soft drinks on the house.” The hats shown at the event were Betmar and Madcaps priced from $5.95-$7.95.


March 11 is a big day for advertising household items, and a pink washer and dryer for $339 shows a woman in her suit and hat heading out for the afternoon as she is now free from the time consuming ways of the old days to handle that laundry chore. It is hard to be tempted by the “sissy sailor” hat by Jane Morgan for $6.98 at Madigan’s, when there is a PINK washer and dryer to be purchased.

Lane Bryant lilac hats for $6.98 look just like the hat they advertised on March 4, or perhaps lilacs were such a big hit they bought more, though at a higher price.
The main article of the Women’s page is “Spectacular Hats For Spring Call for Brighter Eye Makeup: Don’t Look All Hat and No Face,” by Eleanor Nangle.ย The photos show two hats by Tatiana of Saks Fifth Ave, and one each from Emme, Mr.ย John of John Frederic’s, and Laddie Northridge.

March 12, has an ad from Weiboldts for a Doree wide brim hat for $18.95, but it probably gained far less attention than the ones from The Fair.
The Fair advertises a hat by John Frederic’s for $52.50. Hats ranged from $ 15.95 to $69.50. Names mentioned also included Vincent deKoven, Leslie James, Schiaparelli, Suzy Lee, Agnes, H. Howard Hodge, Adrienne, and John Andrews.

A news insert photo is captioned with an enticement to a striped beret and scarf set at Lytton’s Chapeaux Boutique, for $13.95.


March 13 Marshall Field’s full page “Pace” ad reveals great pride as customers are invited to the first and only U.S. appearance of noted Parisian milliner, Svend. Svend was from Denmark tho studied in France, before having shops in Denmark and Sweden. He had worked with Jacques Fath, before striking out on his own. Five hat photographs reveal all different designs. Even if purchasing a hat was not in the budget, one could attend a fashion show of his hats in the Walnut Room for only $1.50.

The day before an import fashion show had been held at the Mayfair Room of the Sheraton Blackstone Hotel, where 250 women had the first glimpse of Svend and his hats, along with a primarily Dior clothing presentation.

Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co also had a full page ad, of “Oh, those beautiful blondes.” Featuring pearls, gloves, handbags, hose, all in shades of white, plus one hat for $16.95. Very lovely ad, but not nearly as exciting as a real live Parisian milliner.

March 14 had plenty of ads for mink stoles, but hats were absent. March 15 shows a hat at Kerman’s on Michigan Ave for $12.95, but it barely holds your attention once you see the Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co ad for Miss Lee. The noted Chicago television personality would be present for two showings of hats, and the event was to include a contest for one of ten Sam Budwig hats. To win, one had to provide a written entry response to “Why I Like the BIG change in hats.”
Weiboldt’s placed a half page ad with seven hats ranging from $6.99 -$15.99.

March 16 includes a different approach to hat shopping, the mail order. A little ad with a form to complete and mail in to Bonwit Teller at 830 N. Michigan Ave, and $7.95 brings you a rose covered headband hat by Brod. Many colors to select from, or perhaps one should get a few different ones. If a trip to the store was possible, they could found on the first floor in the Headband Dept. They must have stocked a great many to call it a whole department.

Hat reporting and ads took a day off on March 17, though plenty of green ones were most likely worn, it was St. Patrick’s Day. March 18 and the Sunday Tribune brought out far more ads, as now Easter was just 2 weeks off. Goldblatt’s has hats for $6, and Lord’s in Evanston has an $18 platter style hat. While in Evanston, or up in Highland Park, the Edgar A. Stevens had a $15 capulet of flowers. Hats by Sue has another ad this month, for those who shopped north side local on Irving Park or Central.
Big things are happening downtown, tho. Bonwit Teller will have Miss Emme present Monday, and Marshall Field’s State St store shall have the hot designer, Laddie Northridge.


Where to go first? Since the Chicago Tribune Magazine insert article on Easter fashion shows a charming $95 Laddie Northridge hat, Marshall Filed’s probably had a better turnout. They also had a Lilly Dache hat for $98, and a Mr. John for $75 shown too.


March 19 has a full page ad for Carson Pirie Scott with hats from $10-$49.50, including hats by Louis of California, Sam Budwig and Mr. John.
Stevens little ad shows a $7.98 number. Mandel Bros has a hat for $14.95, but of interest is their Easter Coupon book for $25. One bought the coupon book on credit to be paid off over months, to purchase Easter clothing and accessories. By the time the hat is paid off, it is out of style.

Weibolt’s has hats $7.99 and $8.99, with The Fair $7.98, and Maurice L. Rothschild at $12.99.

Best news yet? Goldblatt’s has CHERRY hats for $3.99.


Today is the day many have waited for, the full page article on women’s hats with flowers, showing a selection of nine flowered beauties. Front and center is a Laddie Northbridge at Marshall Fields. The others are Mr. Fred of John-Frederics at Bramson, and the pretty things at Martha Weathered, Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co, Charles A Stevens, Mandel Bros, Bonwit Teller, and Saks Fifth Ave.

Pickings are slim, as March 20 shows no hat ads, and March 21 has only one fromย Charles A. Stevens for $29.98.

March 22 has one wondering if Bonwit Teller has hit on a marketing miracle as this week again they have a mail in ad for a hat, a straw Breton for $8.95 by Jauntee.


Also advertising is Saks Fifth Avenue with a $22.95 “white lace cobweb.”


March 23 and March 24 have no ads, but do not fret, March 25 boasts a Bonwit Teller Balenciaga hat for $45 of blue meringue glacรฉ with pleats. Goldblatt’s has $7.99 and $9.99 hats as the only others shown.
March 26 has Mandel Bros for $16.95, and Carson Pirie Scott and Co for $8.95.


March 27 has nothing, but fortunately Marshall Filed’s has saved an ad for March 28. The $20 Lemington hat is a “1956 revival of the 1910 cloche.” It looks nothing like what we would call a cloche today. It appears more like an oversized pillbox that comes down over the brow with an indented crown.

For anyone who avoided hat shopping things are getting down to the wire. March 29 only shows a $ 8.95 blonde hat at Edgar A. Stevens, up in Evanston or Highland Park, or $5 straws at The Fair.

March 30 is Good Friday, and not a big fashion shopping day, with food featured in ads to get the holiday meal goodies. March 31 is the last chance for those who have neglected things far too long, although there are no hat ads to show you where to find your hat.


Perhaps what you are really looking for is an after Easter bargain. Sunday April 1 does not disappoint. Goldblatt’s has 50,000 hats for $2 each. YES, $2. But if you wished you had purchased that Lane Bryant Lilac hat, never fear, it is back again at $3.99


Chicago Millinery History: 1919 Chicago Tribune Newspaper May 12, 2015

normal_002George Bernards at 35 South State St in Chicago looks like a great place, but NO! There are no hats at this store, so this is the last you will hear of them. It was too bad, since the owner was George B. (possibly Bernard?) Friend. No hats; that was probably their downfall and they seem to have disappeared by 1923.

So on to the story of millinery in Chicago gained from the archived copies of The Chicago Tribune.

After holiday sales were heavily advertised at all the larger stores on January 1, 1919. Charles A. Stevens, Mandels, Marshall Field, The Fair, and Hillman’s ran full page ads, including hats. Charles A Stevens had a Daylight Basement ad for hats reduced from $5 to $3.95. The Boston Store had “new Hats” for $2.75

Rothschilds and Co featured an ad for hats between $3.95-$8.95 for “right now,” Jan 12, 1919. That means they would be perfect with the seal plush coats also on sale, for $29.75-$39.75. One also would get S&H trading stamps. Customers were admonished not to forget those, as doing so “would be like leaving your change on the counter.”

If one did not care so much about the S&H stamps, one might have been swayed by their ad to shop for a coat at the tonier Charles A. Stevens. Of the 5,000 winter coats available, plush coats at $19.75-$29.75 were of beaver plush, Yukon seal plush, Baffin seal plush, Esquimette plush, or Peco plush. Trimmings were of Dyed Skunk, Natural Raccoon, Natural Badger, Taupe Nutria, Dyed Opossum, Kit Coney, Moufflon, Australian Opossum, Flying Squirrel. Squirrel? It was also used as a trim for the even more expensive fur coat of Sealine, on sale for $165 from $195. One wonders if hats made of these fur trims were also made to pull the look together. Skunk around your neck, but also on your head? But is that any better than Flying Squirrel?


If a lady were fortunate to be able to leave the chilly Chicago winter and her seal with squirrel trim coat behind to head south, she would be tempted Jan 13, by the “Drooping Mushroom Sailor of Peanut Straw.” No price was given for these hats at Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co., but they also suggested the leghorn straw and the hemp hats as options for the south as well.

normal_003Or perhaps the shopper for a trip south preferred to see what Marshall Field and Co would have for travel essential millinery.


Whether a Chicagoan was wearing a coat or not, the skirts of dresses were narrowing. Not quite like the hobble skirts from Paul Pirotte of Paris at the turn of the century into the teens. But the issue was enough of a concern to have a front page article that the narrower skirts were slowing down trains, and physicians to express concern the style caused women to have swayed backs and “knock knees.”

Articles on fashion appeared in the Sunday newspaper. Fashions Bluebook by Corrine Lowe, from New York, for the start of 1919 shows a woman wearing a long suit with a medium size hat with small brim. A couple weeks later “Seeing the Time O’Hat.” by Corrine Lowe shows twelve hats on the face of a clock for the up to date look in millinery.


Fashions Bluebook short column during weekdays offered just a hint of hat fashion. High crown feather topped hat is shown with bottle green velour afternoon tunic dress trimmed with moleskin. The moleskin fur forms a collar which travels down the front, and edges about a quarter of the bottom of the skirt. A muff of the moleskin is the finishing touch. This Paris ensemble finds the hat to gain little attention compared to the copious use of moleskin.

For the best idea of what was fashionable in millinery that early Spring one would certainly not want to miss the Fashion Bluebook article of Feb 16. The full page coverage had about half devoted to an elegant drawing, by Gretchen Neuburger, of the mock store window with the leading hats featured. The columnist Corrine Lowe has outdone herself with her descriptions of the eight best in “Spring Straws Show the Fashion Wind.”
“Milan and lisere are the two straws of which one sees most. Lisere in combination satin or even with taffeta Is a trick which is fast becoming a habit and the central head of our window we find this illustrated by a Villitard model. The full crown of lisere is here corded with black satin which makes the jaunty one sided crown. A burnt quill caught by a jet ornament is the trimming. ”
“If you have a kind hearted profile, you may wear them, the new hats that turn back in a sharp cuff from the face. Such a hat is found in the lower left modeled of that of a woman seen at the Paris Ritz. Black tule, dotted with jet cabuchons- and jet, please remember, is playing on nearly every millinery bill- is the very thing to go for 6pm.
“In colors one sees, black, Victory Blue, (the same shade as in the French flag), much brown, quite a bit of beige, and still some henna or brick red. All in brick red is the last model -the one at the top left-which is a concoction in liscern straw, Georgette crown, and glycerined ostrich.”


The Fashion Bluebook drawings, other than the one Sunday full page feature, were usually focused on frocks. On Feb 21 two hats were the featured fashions. It seems the Napoleon style hat returns in red with black and red feathers. Glycerined feathers were essential to all hats that season.

But five days later, on Feb 26, all the rage in the US had changed to focus on turbans. First Lady Mrs. Woodrow Wilson had just returned from a trip to Paris. While abroad she obtained a high fashion turban, by Marie Gilbert, and it had created quite a stir. It was not just the style that caused a shopping surge, but the color as well. It was described as between maroon and rose, Eminence Purple. Just like that, the turban was back on top, or at least it was on page 3. It was expected in a State Street Store for Feb 28. It is hard to know if Chicago embraced the purple turban fad, as there were no drawings of turbans in any Chicago Tribune ads through March. On page 18, also on Feb 26, is the little midweek Corrine Lowe’s Fashion Bluebook, written before the Mrs. Wilson fad. It is a drawing of one wide black horsehair brim hat. The article tells of styles mostly called Directorie, “when no other label comes to mind.” Also appearing are some double brim Henry V hats, as well as “little flat Victorian things.” Those hats were probably already in production before Feb 26, but sadly many possibly ended up on a clearance table, if women favored the new turban.

Where would one wear all these fine hats? Everywhere and everyday: the theater included. Fortunately unlike when the Merry Widow played and caused a hat fad of Merry Widow OVERsized brim hats in the beginning of the decade, theatergoers did not latch onto those from Chu Chin Chow.



The available job opening for milliner employment starts on Jan 1 with Semco Sisters seeking Millinery makers $15-$25 (per 6 day work week), with working hours of 8:30-6pm. They were located at 925 W. 63rd St.

By Jan 4 there were four ads for millinery workers, Semco is still searching, but so are D.B. Fisk, Royal Trimmed Hats on Union St., and Mr. Zucker at Unity Hat works 238 W. Madison. By Jan 16 there were ten ads, the most for any day that spring, for millinery workers. There were some repeats from earlier ads, but also new ones for several, including Consolidated, Richard Hat Co, in Room 408 at 12 N. Michigan, and Marguritte on South Michigan Avenue.
In February the ads include daily repeats of Fisk, plus frequently seen Chicago Bargain House, National Hat Works on Wabash, Edson Keith, Madison, but they also add some local smaller houses. Occasionally one sees ads for the large department stores, and Gage hat.

normal_002Sterling Hat at 230(?)State indicated week work or piece work was available. At “16 cents” for straw braid work this gave the person working in another position, perhaps having moved out of regular millinery work or in an office position, a seasonal opportunity for some extra cash for many long extra hours of toil.

Then there were the now almost unknown fashion places, such as the Blackstone on Michigan Ave, Loren Miller at 4722 Broadway, Tilly Smith in the Stevens Building, and Mahoney at 5508(?)S. Halsted. Their ads mentioned millinery as well.

Thomas J. Phelan Co, (66?) E. Randolph, looked for apprentices and stock girls. A few others asked for apprentices, but the majority sought experienced help. With Easter only weeks away there was little time to train lots of new apprentices for high production companies. It may have been some companies who sought apprentices were not in a position to pay as much as bigger houses for experienced help, and were willing to get cheaper help. Or the pool of available milliners was shrinking and in desperation an apprentice might have to do.

Some ads only gave an address, such as 235 E. 47th St. and 745 Fullerton Parkway. The cost of placing an ad was not inexpensive for small operations, so the name may have proved not worth the extra cost.

One person placed an ad with little notice. The Feb 20 ad stated to call on G. F. Kauffmann between 3-7pm at the Palmer House in Room 35. If a girl were already employed and got home from work at 6pm, then read the paper, she was not likely to make it in time to meet the deadline. In the 1920 Illustrated Milliner, G. F. Kauffmann of Dubuque, IA is mentioned. The Encyclopedia Dubuque also lists G. F. Kauffmann, in millinery, with an address at 976 Main St, and in 1937 as 378 Main St., then listed as a wholesaler. Perhaps in seeking millinery trimmers for the spring season in IA, a recruiting trip was taken in hopes Chicago held some excellent candidates willing to relocate. Such a late in season search might have yielded girls who had tried the heavy workload at the other places with ads earlier, and were seeking a change. Somehow she found enough help to keep going.

Theo Ascher on Michigan Ave, Chicago Mercantile Co, and Goldstein Millinery, at 165 N. Michigan advertised for positions out of town. It was a way for out of town millinery establishments to purchase their supplies and also hope to find a pool of labor.

Mr. Weil at Chicago Mercantile at Wabash and South Water St. was the man to see for the person who wanted to work at home. “We deliver and call for work to pick up,” which certainly preserved the safety of the finished items. It was better than a woman trying to carry all this on public transportation back downtown. For piece work the cost of transportation would seriously impact the profit she made.

Hyland Bros, 84 E. Randolph advertised for yearly work for milliners to go to New York. Transportation was included. Just as Chicago had been a big draw for the rural girl to seek a job in Chicago, the allure of the bigger city of NY could also have had her move on once she had proven herself here.

It is hard to gauge how many “girls” we’re need to be hired by all those placing ads, except for William F. Chiniquy Co, 1700 W. Washington. “Millinery Workers Are you handy with needle? We could use 50 girls to work in ladies hats, either to trim or to sew crowns on brims. you can earn from $10-$20 per week. Come ready to work. ”
In the Blue Book of Commerce of 1917, under Section 22 millinery, there are four companies listed as wholesale to the jobbing trade. Chiniquy, plus E. Eiger and Bros at 1249 S. Wabash, R. Lippert and Co at 1048 Huron, and George Wagner at 207 N. Michigan Ave. Where the other three advertised for their seasonal help is unknown, but if 50 new hires were needed for spring by one, perhaps that meant 200 jobs for the group of four. A few days later their ad was for straw operators, which paid $40-$75 per week. This would have been astounding wages for a man or a woman, but this ad was in the Wanted Female Help section. It seems a few select women could actually make better than a living wage. Sadly this was seasonal work, even tho their ads never provided that bit of information. Only the ads from D. B. Fisk state the work was year round.

The millinery job openings in 1919 were of perhaps even more importance than some spring opportunities for the past few years. The soldiers were returning home, and reclaiming their jobs. Women’s opportunities for employment typically held by men were not as great as during WWI, but now was not the time for the independent sort of gal to look for a job generally held by a man. It was a good idea to seek woman’s work, and spring millinery held that opportunity. It was that or Western Union Telegraph, stenographer, or the potential new shortened course to become a nurse.

Leading department stores advertised heavily. The Fair was a mid-price line store.

The Boston Store had a basement with inexpensive hats just a couple weeks before Easter. The suits were “temptingly priced,” the hats were “pretty,” at $2.73. No big splashy ad for those hats.


Marshal Fields millinery was showing bright hued silks and slipper straws at the beginning of January. Red was the prominent color. Red had been all the rage in 1897 in Europe, which carried over to the US too. Perhaps it was hoping for a comeback.
Weeks later Marshal Field and Co. ran an ad Feb. 10 to start tempting women with what they would have to offer. The drawing of a brimmed hat looks like so many others, but they tell an enticing tale. They had sent a resident correspondent to the shows in Paris who sent back a drawing with watercolor to show more detail of the newest version. The small brim was even smaller in the back of a black straw, faced with robin egg blue, and ostrich feathers. It was a “modified poke shape.” No prices mentioned, but then most knew their hats like this would be costly.
It is no April Fools joke, Marshall Fields ad for April 1 is extensive in their attempt to inform the shopper about their millinery choices. The Debutante Room on the fifth floor, American Room on the fifth floor, the French Room on the fifth floor, the distinctive sport hat, and the English walking hat, both found in the fifth floor English Room. One wonders if there was space left on the fifth floor for any other departments. Of special note was the tempting tidbit that Field’s own French designer had selected the flowers from the world famous flower maker, Natalie Bourseul in Paris.


Carson, Pirie, Scott’s newest hats in February were being sold at $13.75, no small amount back then. Hillman’s, the Fair, the Boston Store, and Mandel Bros were regular advertisers as well.


For high end fashion, Joseph’s at 608-610 S. Michigan Avenue offered a wide variety of apparel. This included hats from $18.50 to $45. Not high, compared to frocks from $35-$145.

normalThe simplest and most impressive ad in February was on page 2 of the paper on the 12th. A small box with “Vogue Millinery Number Out Today.” No picture of a hat, but of the business shield icon, with a large V in the center behind a woman who could easily have been Marie Antoinette. To be so well known as a shop that one did not need to add an address, (524 Michigan Ave), prices or pictures was impressive. “Blumโ€™s Vogue was a specialty department store founded by Harry and Becky Blum in Chicago in 1910. The original store was simply called Blumโ€™s and was located in the Congress Hotel, then home to Sarah Bernhardt, Ethel Barrymore, and other famous theatrical stars of the day. Blumโ€™s quickly became successful, and shortly thereafter the Blums opened a second store, Vogue, a few doors down. While Blumโ€™s sold ready-to-wear clothes, Vogue sold custom-made garments. In 1924, the Blums bought their own building at 624 S. Michigan Avenue and began extensive renovations. Finally, in 1930, they moved to their new premises and combined their two stores into one: Blumโ€™s Vogue. Blumโ€™s Vogue was enormously successful, expanding to several locations in Chicago and eventually nationwide. It wasnโ€™t until 1983 when the last store in the chain finally closed.”ย  normal_003

March brings the Spring Opening for Marshall Fields and Charles A. Stevens with extensive coverage on March 10. This was a Monday. While most people are familiar with a Sunday Tribune these days having extensive advertising, until 19?? Fields would never place ads in a Sunday paper. Other retailers perhaps felt they had the advantage in their one day earlier ads, but it does not seem to have been to Fields disadvantage to keep with their policy. Often Fields would have a full age ad on the last page of the Monday paper. On this day it is a Carson,Pirie, Scott ad. Their hat is a flower crowned sailor, one among many treasures in their Fifth Floor French Room for $20.

For the woman who liked to try her hand at sewing, and thought a hat was a worthy project, a five to seven illustration how-to article is the answer. Clotilde was the regular sewing column in the featured Practical and Fancy Needlework of March 9, and in March 16, 23, and 30, 1919.


The chance that a milliner makes the front page is slight, except if you are Mrs. Lenore Carne of Hammond, IN. Front page news for the theft of a diamond ring and just purchased Christmas gifts from Mrs. C led to the arrest of “Handsome Jack.”
It seems Mrs. C, with a husband in France, had been shopping in Chicago when she returned to her LaSalle Hotel, encountering Jack outside. They flirted, dined at a Cafe, then had some drinks, where things “get fuzzy.” She awoke at the Astor Hotel, with the gifts, her diamond ring and “Jack” gone. The nickname of “Handsome Jack” had some basis in recent history. It seems another scoundrel who played upon the emotions and pocketbook of susceptible women had ended up killing one of his victims, and was serving a life sentence in the Joliet Penitentiary. He had avoided being hung in 1914.
When Mrs. C. returned to the Dearborn St. train station two days before the New Year, she saw “Handsome Jack,” with her ring worn on his tie. His arrest led to police finding a black book of women’s names, some crossed off, on him. Providing the police with the name John Knox, his lawyer appeared without even a phone call placed by the supposed Mr. Knox. He insisted Mrs. C would not press charges. Perhaps without the black book that could have been true, as a married woman with her name on the front page involved in what might have been a serious marital transgression could hesitate to continue the unwanted exposure. Police were asking for other probable victims to come forward. The plot thickens to this story.
The next day’s newspaper indicated the trial was held over to Jan 7. Handsome Jack was dismayed at his appearance with two days beard growth, and said he would look better with a shave and a massage. His lawyer had appeared in court on his behalf, insisting he was a New York businessman and always a gentleman, caught in a “gross error.” When this had come up before the judge Mrs. C had explained the theft, but then collapsed in a faint, as women were known to do back in those days. Clearly she was spending more time in Chicago caught up in testimony, and was not getting any millinery creations started for the big spring opening she might have been planning. Luckily Easter was not until April 20 that year.
At least now for Mrs. C’s dignity, the story was buried on page 8. Of greater concern might be if the story was also appearing in the Hammond IN papers as well.
It is hard to say what happened, but it may have been the charges were dropped. Newspaper focus shifted to the death of President Theodore Roosevelt on Jan 6. What with all the news coverage for that, remaining World War I issues, Mary Pickford’s case of influenza, and the passage of Prohibition on Jan 16, 1919, Mrs. C’s troubles did not gain further coverage. The newspapers would be full of other stories that year from a race riot that went from Aug 27-Sept 3, and later the White Sox baseball scandal of the World Series.
And what of the previous “Handsome Jack?” He escaped from prison in Sept 1899 and it does not appear he was found. There was a good bit of newspaper discussion that in light of the escape, he should have been hung. Guess the newest Handsome Jack did not consider conning women too hazardous, and unfortunately neither did Mrs. C, or she could have avoided such a public humiliation. Perhaps the Jan 7 news article about Mrs. C and Handsome Jack had less attention than she might have feared. Certainly $5 hats in the ad to the right of the article from Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co. would distract many women with an interest in hats.



Chicago Millinery History: Spring 1958 April 23, 2015

The Spring of 1958 had many drawings and photos of millinery during the weeks preceding Easter in the Chicago Tribune. This look back is focused on the advertising and news coverage in that paper. Since many folks did not advertise nor gain exposure, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Benjamin Green-Field is not mentioned once, tho BesBen hats were selling like hotcakes that year. Sometime there will be a more inclusive version of the world of millinery here for 1958, but for now here are some tidbits.

Peyton Place, the movie, was playing the spring of 1958. It was the second highest grossing movie of 1958, mostly because of the leading lady, Lana Turner. Not only for her acting, but because her daughter killed her mother’s abusive lover, a mobster. Her daughter was not charged. The movie, tho considered racy in it’s day, was a sanitized version of the earlier book. Sadly the movie, not rich in hats, was not a fashion trend setter, as it was set in the early 1940s.
One of the actors in this film was Lee Philips, not to be confused with Lee
Phillip, who had a most wholesome image in Chicago. She had been the hat ambassador, Miss Easter Bonnet, in 1955 and 1956 for the Luci Puci line of Chicago made hats.

Fashion was facing a trend to a new style of dress, and the term chemise shows up in the description of many hats advertised in the Chicago Tribune newspaper from March through Easter, 1958. The chemise was a straight-line waist-less sheath dress with a below the knee length. Some versions had a loose or manipulated feature in back as a focal point.

Hats could also be used in advertising other things. Frozen food was pretty new in the scheme of things for the homemaker. Most refrigerators until recently were only able to hold ice cubes and a pint of ice cream.
Libby Foods advertised frozen peas with the photographed model wearing a John Frederic’s hat. She states “I’ll eat my hat if these are not the freshest tasting peas you have ever enjoyed.” One can only hope those peas were delicious. It was a crime to ruin that hat.

Instead of just looking forward in fashion, the newspaper also carried a regular feature to appreciate the good old days. “When Chicago Was Young” by Herman Clark, is a special column in the Chicago Tribune for a peek at history revealed in a letter written in 1910. The writer laments of the oversized hats worn by women in church the Sunday before, which had been Easter Sunday that year. She was referring to the fashion trend called Merry Widow hats, which came to fashion after worldwide success of an operetta of the same name. At least anyone writing such a column looking back at 1958 would not be voicing that complaint, as it was a rare sight to see a wide brim hat featured in any Chicago Tribune advertisements in The six weeks leading up to Easter.

To be up to date, one would want to read the noted fashion columnist, Evelyn Livingstone, with her article in the women’s pages, “Today with Women.” On March 31, in the Chicago Tribune, she has “Hats That Bloom in Spring.” Featured are a modified bowler by Dior, a spoon shaped black hat of starched mesh, accented by yellow-orange roses by Jacques Heim- Svend of Paris. Two floral calotte and cloche hats are also photographed by Gigi of Milan, Italy. These hats were available in the import collection at Marshall Fields. Imports held much appeal to the fashionistas of the day. Especially if it came from Paris, women paid top dollar to wear an imported hat. The less well heeled, or thriftier, bought one of many thousands of knockoffs sold each season in Chicago. It was not socially unacceptable to manufacture copies, and some manufacturers added value to the item by putting it right on the label.

Millinery class at Chicago park district field houses were offered, for the budget conscious woman. At Horner Park on Montrose, they were taught by Mrs. Robert J. Stack of 3300 Dickens. Classes were popular with neighborhood women who wished to design their own hat. The classes, twice per week, had begun in February. They were free, except for the cost of supplies. Mrs. Stack had worked in the millinery industry for years.

Just as in 1957 there are luncheon fashion shows the week before Easter. The Drake had Blum Vogue doing the honors, and Bramson’s was at the Sheraton lounge, who also did the Kungsholm Restaurant later in the week. The Sheraton brought out several individual collections, which included hats by Betty Owens at the end of the week. Sadly not a word has been found online about Betty Owens, tho this day must have been a thrill for Betty.
The Imperial restaurant was covered by Martha Weathered.
The Van Cleef and Arpels jewel collection was at Stanley Korshak, which might have had a few hats worn for good measure.

Not to be left out of the fashion show parade, Marshall Fieldโ€™s held shows at both Old Orchard and the State St stores.
Earlier Marshall Fields had hosted an even bigger fashion show on March 10, at the Sheraton-Blackstone. Fashion Director, Mrs. Kathleen Catlin, brought the import collection of 52 dresses. It heavily featured the chemise, the newest look. Several hats adorn the drawings included in the Tribune article. Two were specifically presented by Givenchy. ” …high crowns: Wide brimmed silhouette is fashioned completely of black netting; towering pillbox of white organdy trails two full blown windsocks.”
This had the attention of the Chicago society elite. The hats worn to the event were well described. The room was “a sea of flowers.”
Some of the women were mentioned:
The attendees:
Mrs. Hughston M. McBain, and Mrs. E. Hall Taylor – mimosa
Mrs. Byron Harvey – beret draped with hundreds of white rose petals;
Mrs. William F. Borland – white straw beret (photographed);
Mrs. Kellogg Fairbanks – wide brimmed cabbage rose;
Mrs. Bruce Thorne Jr, Mrs. Maurice P. Geraghty, and Mrs. John A. Prosser – “black veiling with birds or butterflies”;
Mrs. Robert A. Gardener Jr- ” row of tiny brown velvet bows atop a veil”;
Mrs. Wesley M. Dixon – “white feather birds” head veil;
Mrs. Herbert P. L. McLaughlin and Mrs. George S. Isham – Bachelor buttons

Saks Fifth Avenue brought in their milliner from NY, to offer consultations in-store. On March 6 and 8, Mrs. Virginia Wallace was on hand to reveal the loveliness of the “Sweet butter straws prepared to melt.” These flower covered hats were priced from $10.95 to $14.95. They were available on the fifth floor in the Young Elite Hat section.
Bonwit Teller starts off March with a special event featuring a visit from Irene of New York, on March 3, and followed with a visit by Miss Alice on March 11 and 12. Miss Alice had also been there in 1957.

The article by Marylou Luther, “These Hats of Spring Revamp Vamp of 1920s,” provided an in-depth explanation of the Miss Alice hats at Bonwits. The hats to reflect the 1920s cloche and turban were from $45 to $65. The “Katy” hats of sailors and Bretons was exemplified by a green and white “houndstooth” straw with upturn brim and velvet ribbon bow for $39.50. It was called the Beau Catcher. A roller silhouette of organdy went for $45.

Bonwits Teller, located at 830 N. Michigan Ave. regularly advertised womens fashions, including millinery. March 21 had an ad for a straw cloche, Daisy Crazy for $9.95.

Bonwits silk organza with veil Merry Go Round by Betmar for $7.95 was advertised on March 24, 1958.

Bonwit was back to bringing in star milliners, by hosting Mr. Arnold 3/26 and 3/27. Seen in an ad was the “chemise cloche.”

The Thurs paper of that week showed a “puckish cap” of green fabric leaves with single rose in front center from Mr. Arnold and mentions his appearance at Bonwit.

Mr. Arnold may well have paid a visit to Bramson’s too, if he stuck around to the end of the month. At least one of his hats were featured in an automobile advertisement. It was a wide brimmed hat by Mr. Arnold in a tie in ad with the Premier Landau Lincoln car, which it seems was on display at the Bramson store, along with the hat.

It was a grand day when Miss Sally Victor visited Marshall Fields on March 4 and 5. Her hats were said to be a good balance for the shorter skirts that season. The one shown in the ad was priced at $85, available in the French Room on the fifth floor.

Marshall Fields has an ad identified as at Old Orchard, featuring vibrant Paris pink accessories. The cloche hat at $16.95 is drawn in black with white dots, so it impossible to know if the black was the pink or the dots. Other items in the ad were white gloves, necklace, carnation, and white with black dots silk shantung blouse, still leaving the question unanswered as to what was pink.

Another Field’s half page ad has three hats featured, described as skimmer, bubble and breton. These were available on the 5th floor in the
Debutante Room.

Rarely are ads seen for millinery on the lower level Budget Floor of Marshall Fields, but the March 2 ad has $9 hats. They had 163 styles of hats in this offering, which must have been a splendid sight to see.

A recurring column of the Tribune was Fashions By Angela. In a box article there were three hat drawings. G. Howard Hodghes hats of light straw from Lyttons of a wreath motif.

Mandel’s started off March with three days of in-store special informal modeling of John Frederic’s Charmers, the modest priced line. Miss Charmer from New York was doing the honors of modeling. The article covering the Mandel’s event referred to Mr. Frederic as Mr. Fred. Perhaps only the established fashion writer Evelyn Livingstone was allowed to use that name.

Mandel’s ad for March 9 has 470 hats available at the price of $7.70. On March 23 the Flower Chemise cloche $8.95. On March 27 Mandel’s shows a chemise Breton with flowers and veil for $5.95. On March 31 the ad was for the Chemise Brim, at $10.95.

It is clear that many sellers felt putting the hot word of the season, chemise, in front of any style made it the most fashionable hat of the year.

Mandel’s also had a price cut from $6.95 and $7.95 down to $5.85 the week before Easter. Perhaps the earlier advertised hats at $5.95 and $8.95 had already sold out.

But more than ads this time of year was the good will earned by Mandel’s for a hat fashion show held in their store. They had six college girls modeling hats made by patients of the Hines VA hospital and sponsored by the Red Cross. The winner was the Miss Vanguard hat which featured an Outer space theme. Other winners were a Hang it Yourself hat, equipped with a hanger, and one with fishing lures.

Rollback the brim by Hats by Sue $5-$75 3152 N. Central and 4902 W. Irving Park. This local milliner ran ads in spring, and this year only two were found. It is still common to come upon a vintage Hat by Sue on the Northside of Chicago. What is hard to find is the history of Sue herself.


Early in March the Fair featured an ad with a list of milliners they carried, and a drawing of one hat for $79.50 by John Frederics. This straw hat is described as a cloche, tho the drawing shows a wide brim hat, unlikely called a cloche by today’s assessment. The hats they carry run from $22.98 to $89.50. The milliners listed were G. Howard Hodge, John Frederic’s, Norman Durand, Mr. D, Suzy Lee, Phil Strann, Vincent DeKoven, Leslie James, Yvonne, John Andrews.

The Fair is showing a chemise roller of an upswept straw Breton by Roberta Bernays for $10.99. Another Roberta Bernays for $10.99 of rippled cloche, of pleated veiling was available in orange, white, pale blue, pink, mint and black on thier third floor milllinery salon.

Bonds at State and Jackson has a millinery department on their 4th floor featuring hats from $5.95 to $35 pg 22 two are shown, featuring flowers and veils. Another ad the next week on 3/31 for a $7.95 value for $5 for a Chemise Cloche of imported Toyo straw.

Charles Stevens was proud to advertise their new Hat Bar on March 7, 1958. It was on the second floor, with three hats shown. They ranged from $5.95 to $7.95.

Wiebolts, celebrating their “75th year” had sample hats marked down to $5.97 from $8.99 to $12.99. The fine print box also tells of reduced hats to $2.97.

Wiebolts flower covered rippled trellis frame hat for $15.99.

Weibolts shows a full age Easter ad on March 27, with three hats, ” deep cloches and saucy Bretons, ” priced $7.99 to $10.99 pg 26 On March 31 they share their two “young hearted breton” hats but are certain you are aware that the $7.99 hat will gain you 79 S&H Green stamps as well.

Carson’s advertised matching hats and purses, dyed to match byEverett. The prices ranged from $3.99-$5.99 for the hats, as presented by the manufacturer’s representative, Betty Donoghue.

Carson, Pirie, Scott and Co launched an irresistible contest featuring a hat covered in diamonds, on display in the Junia Room on the third floor, at the State Street store. Entries with the three closest guess won grand millinery prizes. The third closest won two Sam Budwig hats, the second won three hats, and the closest won a hat a month from Sam Budwig. Miss Lee Phillip was making a personal appearance at the store to model the hat on March 10. She was photographed wearing the hat, with diamonds worth between $10,000 to $100,000. The winner was to be announced on March 14 on the Miss Lee television program.
The four hats in the ad were by Sam Budwig ranged in price from $20 to $25.
A word about Miss Lee. Starting in Chicago by doing flower arranging demonstrations on local Chicago TV, she became the Weather Girl on the 10 pm news nightly. To improve her image, or create a hook to keep the local Chicago women watching, she had a new hat for each evening to reflect the weather. These were rented by the station from Raymond Hudd, a milliner who began in 1950. This was a pivotal boost to his career.
Miss Lee went on to marry, and became Mrs. William J. Bell. Together she and her husband created the top daytime soap opera TV programs, the Bold and The Beautiful and the Young and the Restless. They did well, and she still lives in CA. They had owned the Howard Hugh’s mansion.


GATELY Department Store
Gately’s department store on the south side of the city featured two Jane Morgan hats, a cloche and an upswept breton for $4.99.

GOLDBLATTS Department Store
Goldblatts featured six drawings of hats in their ad of many styles ranging from $4.99 to $12.99. Each of the six drawings were labeled: $4.99 ripple sailor chambre soi, $5.99 bouffant breton sewn straw, $7.99 Breton Swiss straw, $10.99 deep cloche bamboo straw, $12.99 imported toyo cloche, $12.99 chemise cloche grape wreath. In small print they also mentioned other hats were available for $1.99 to $3.98.

Another ad from Goldblatts for Easter hats also on March 30 showed five styles in prices $4.99 to $8.99 with a special mention that the hat could be purchased with the Hot Point Certificate. It seems when a customer had purchased a Hot Point product, of a stove, refrigerator, washer or TV, they were provided with a coupon type certificate for a hat at Goldblatts. The “OK IKE” program by Hotpoint was an incentive marketing plan to increase post war production of appliances. The program participants, Goldblatts along with other local appliance dealers such as Polk Brothers, advertised a free Easter Bonnet for the week before Easter of 1958. What woman could resist a new appliance without interest payments for a quarter of the year if one found themselves unemployed, no down payment with a trade-in, and deferred payments till July 1, plus a new Easter hat!

The Easter Sunday paper brought out the big guns. A full page ad from Goldblatts with 50,000 hats marked down to $2. It seems there must have been far too few hats selected with the Hotpoint certificates.

Sears ran an ad March 6, 1958 with an interesting combination, all for only $3.99, regularly $4.99. “You’d expect to pay this for the hat alone.” The hat was a natural straw banded to match the dress. The “Gondolier” was a sleeveless narrow waist, full skirt dress, with a matching straight brim hat. How did they come to have dresses at such a low cost, and with a hat as a bonus? Perhaps the hook was the hat, and the dress was the bonus. The time for sleeveless dresses was nowhere close to appropriate to the temperature of March in Chicago.
One might surmise that this style of dress could easily be out of fashion as the chemise style of a waist-less dress was gaining popularity. Perhaps their fashion suppliers felt the “New Look” of the late 1940s into the early 1950s from Dior would sit on the racks as women shifted focus to a straight line dress. Give them a hat and make the dress worth the risk of looking old fashioned. Certainly there were plenty of women across the US who would not consider the new style worthy of their limited fashion budget, and there were still plenty of Chicagoans who adored the silhouette of eight years earlier.

Sears had drawings of eight hats, marked down the week before Easter from $3.98 to $3.30. Hats were a common part of of full page advertising done by Sears.

Lane Bryant hat of flowers for $3.99. This ad was repeated a few times during the weeks before Easter. Most people may think of plus size clothes as the claim to fame for this company. In its early days it covered many fashion areas, long before plus size existed. What made their name tho was a focus on selling maternity clothing. Far more ads for such clothes were seen in the 1950s from Lane Bryant than all others put together. The baby boomer generation mothers of Chicago knew that store well.

What about the future women of Chicago? Little girls had hats for Easter too, but there were no big name designers, nor big price tags.
Kresge at their Chicago and 15 suburban stores shows two girls tie under the chin bonnets for $1.95.
Earlier in the month Sears had been selling similar hats for girls for $1.44, marked down from $1.98.

Before the swing to news coverage of brunches, women were mentioned in the papers for their finery at church. One consistently covered church was the Fourth Presbyterian Church, on Michigan Avenue, of what is now called the Magnificent Mile. When several hotel restaurants offered a contest with prizes for hats, and contests sometimes also for children’s outfits and men’s ties, it shifted the fashion reporting focus from church to mealtime.
Monday after Easter is the news report on the Easter brunch hat contests. The Drake had started their Easter brunch in 1933. Somewhere there must be a clue yet to be found as to the first contest. The Drake clientele in 1958 had some fun in the lobby with the hats worn by Miss Petrine Ronning and Miss Dahana Wood. Miss Wood is created with designing both hats, as well as those of Miss Helen Harrison and Mrs. Christopher C. Porter.
One thing is known, Raymond Hudd hats were winners time and again. A spring hat from Raymond had become the favored Easter bonnet. Tho not mentioned in the Tribune, the contests were covered by other papers as well. Raymond got his glory in the Chicago Daily News, now long gone.DSCN3124