FrouFrou 4 YouYou

Chicago Fashion and Millinery History: The Chicagoan Magazine Part IV Fashion Advertising April 25, 2018

Fashion ads were plentiful in The Chicagoan. The first issue, June 1926 featured ads from the one high end fashion store, McAvoy, at 615 N. Michigan Ave. There was a 1/6 page ad for The Sports Shop of Lake Forest, with one shop at 633N. Michigan Ave, and another at Market Square in Lake Forest. Many of the intended readership had summer homes in Lake Forest, or along Lake Michigan, to escape the heat of the city. The back cover was devoted to CD Peacock for jewels. They had been in operation since 1837, when the city was first incorporated.


Copyright The Quigley Publishing Company, a Division of QP Media, Inc.

The following issue had those same advertisers, as well as Hartmann luggage, the Louis Vuitton of it’s day.

Copyright The Quigley Publishing Company, a Division of QP Media, Inc.

Perfume appears in the third issue, as well as Pearlie Powell on Michigan Ave, south of the bridge. The ads from Toujours Moi were repeated at times, all with a similar look.

Copyright The Quigley Publishing Company, a Division of QP Media, Inc.

The Nov. 15, 1926 issue has a a very informative ad from Pearlie Powell, with many top notch French designers in stock. They were certainly well enough established to be able to buy from so many leading designers while in Paris.


Copyright The Quigley Publishing Company, a Division of QP Media, Inc.

The available issues for 1927 start with July, but the only fashion ad was from Pearlie Powell. Perhaps others felt with so many readers on vacation this was not the time to spend on advertising. The last issue of July has one fur ad, Berman Furs, but then no fashion ads until Sept 24, when F.A. Arendt Importers from 171 N. Michigan Ave ran the first of two ads.

Copyright The Quigley Publishing Company, a Division of QP Media, Inc.

1928 is off to a start with the Jan 28 issue including an ad from Seidler Imports at 6N Michigan Ave, which they continued to include into at least 1929.;query=1926;brand=default#page/8/mode/1up


Copyright The Quigley Publishing Company, a Division of QP Media, Inc.

The first Saks Fifth Avenue ad for their NY store appears  Aug 8, 1928, and they continue periodically until, and beyond when they can announce their Chicago opening in 1931. Sept 22 reveals a Marshall Field ad for the new line, Marfield. It tells us each month in the first week they will be featuring exciting new stock.

Copyright The Quigley Publishing Company, a Division of QP Media, Inc.

Charles Stevens gets on the bandwagon in December 29, 1928. This was a banner issue for fashion ads, since it included Saks Fifth Avenue, McAvoy, Seidler , and among the newcomers: June Modjeska Shop at 616 Rush, Sonia at 416S. Michigan, Dobbs hats at Dockstader and Sandberg at 900 N. Michigan Ave. The issue came out earlier than the publication date, providing readers with gift giving ideas.

Copyright The Quigley Publishing Company, a Division of QP Media, Inc.

Martha Wethered was a store in the Drake Hotel and another across the street on the west side at the corner of Oak. They placed their first ad 10/2/1929, just before the stock market crash which created issues for rich and poor alike. Altho Martha’s stores survived the Depression, and endured a total fire loss, they ended up owned by Bramson, which also eventually went out of business many decades later.

One wonders how the advertising sales person for this magazine felt when thinking of the other fashion advertisers that issue. Those included Charles Stevens, Saks Fifth Ave, Blum’s Vogue, and other ad newcomers Betty Wales,


Copyright The Quigley Publishing Company, a Division of QP Media, Inc.

This seems like a good place to pause. Perhaps another couple of dozen ads will be added to this post at a later time. In the meantime, please indulge yourself in a feast of Art Deco with the online issues:



Chicago Fashion and Millinery History: The Chicagoan Magazine Part I – The Book, The Magazine April 23, 2018

The Book

book cover

In 2008 Neil Harris wrote The Chicagoan: A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age. The first source of information for this blog series on the magazine came from this book. It is a highly enjoyable read about the magazine, and has excellent visuals of covers and copied pages.

Mr. Harris started his journey finding bound copies of perhaps the majority of issues in the University of Chicago Regenstein Library. The original issues were donated by an alumni, Julia Fay Hecker.

One aspect of the magazine not fully explored by Mr. Harris is the male vs female preponderance of writers. When it comes to fashion, one might think female writers would be the expected population. It was, but there are times when some were not likely given the credit as were the male counterparts. One process for authorship was to refer to the writers of fashion as The Chicagoenne. More than once the fashion column had that name, and later the authorship was such. There was an indication the Chicagoenne could have been a group of at least three, basically anonymous, authors.

Mr. Harris does give acknowledgement to writers early in the book, and paragraphs in an appendix section, Contributor’s Biographies. In the early pages mention is made of staff Susan Wilber, Irene Castle McLaughlin (yes, the dancing star of the era), Alicia Patterson, Dorothy Aldis, Vera Caspary, Janet Ayer Fairbanks, Mrs. John Borden, Lucia Lewis, and “sometimes editor” Ruth G. Bergman. 1. In the Appendix section seventy three men were listed, and eleven women were listed. 73 vs 11, hmm. Of those eleven several were not in the original early page group: Marie Armstong Hecht (Mrs. Ben Hecht, for those who care that her husband had fame), who was the first editor. Jolly good, a woman had a key position. The other additional women authors from the Appendix include Genevive Forbes Herrick, Elsie Seeds, Herminia and Irma Selz, and Ethel Spears.

While reviewing each fashion article of all the issues available, there are some additional names to be found when one gets to the last part, Part V of this blog series. If you look at the Index, Ms. Wilbur had the most pages mentioned with a total of seven. (Does Dear Reader sense there is a feminist slant to this blog series? YES, this whole FF4YY blog has been aimed at millinery history, a feminine fashion topic, and particularly the women who contributed to the industry.)

The magazine costs were likely significant as this was a classy high grade paper publication. Issued twice a month initially, for a few years, it fell to a monthly in 1931. Some gaps were acknowledged, but it is hard to pinpoint without the full collection in the library. “But subscription fees fell quickly from the ambitious five dollar annual to 1931 to three dollars and finally two.” “The April 1935 issue, down to 50 pages, turned out to be the final gasp.” “No warning, no announcement.” 2.

Although one might think it highly risky for another publication to come out during the Depression, Esquire had an impact. Esquire premiered “October, 15, 1933 and sold out at 105,00 copies, the second issue at 400,000.” 3. Overall The Chicagoan only had 5,900 copies sold.

The Chicago World Fair, also known as the Century of Progress in 1933-1934 had excellent coverage in The Chicagoan, and likely carried it through longer than perhaps it would have lasted otherwise. But without the Fair and the new Esquire favored by men, who likely paid for most of the subscriptions, subscriptions dwindled. There were just not enough wealthy people around to carry this magazine further.

The Magazine

Fortunately the library website has digital copies. Although not every issue is present, it is a most impressive collection.

The Chicagoan, published from 1926 to 1935 in Chicago, was explicitly modeled on the New Yorker in both its graphic design and editorial content. The magazine aimed to portray the city as a cultural hub and counter its image as a place of violence and vice. It was first issued biweekly and then, in a larger format, monthly, ceasing publication in the midst of the Depression.

Along the course of this five part blog you will find many links. Just reading the posts without perusing the digital copies would be unfortunate. You can get Art Deco images and the wider variety of content beyond fashion mentioned in these blogs.

Background on the book and magazine, The Chicagoan, this post, Part I.

The Target Audience: The Wealthy in The Chicagoan Part II

Fashion Columns in The Chicagoan Part III

Fashion Advertising in The Chicagoan Part IV

Above photo: Copyright The Quigley Publishing Company, a Division of QP Media, Inc.


Female Authors of The Chicagoan Part V Although this topic seems a little removed from the actual world of fashion, these women impacted fashion just as much as a movie or food critic. When Part V will appear remains unclear, as the research has only just started. Perhaps most will have disappeared from history and little will be found, but hopefully enough to make the topic of interest. Now if only I could find photos of them wearing hats, to gain a little insight into their own wardrobes.

IS there a chance this magazine could appear again? A valiant attempt was made by J.C. Gabel in 2012, but has not come to a point one can relive the glory years.



1. Neil Harris, with the assistance of Teri J. Edelstein, The Chicagoan:A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age (The University of Chicago Press,  2008),   13-15.

2. Neil Harris, with the assistance of Teri J. Edelstein, The Chicagoan:A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age,  24-25.

3. Neil Harris, with the assistance of Teri J. Edelstein, The Chicagoan:A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age,  26.





Chicago Millinery History:Allied Millinery Industries of Chicago March 17, 2017

Filed under: Chicago,Chicago Millinery History,hat,millinery,Uncategorized — froufrou4youyou @ 9:02 pm
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millinery fashion show allied 1926

The Allied Millinery Industries of Chicago Fashion Show was held at the hottest spot in Chicago, the Sherman House. This unused gummed stamp is all that has been found to know the group ever existed.

Sherman had made his money in brick manufacturing, but it was another early entrepreneur, Joseph Byfield who bought the hotel when it had lost it’s allure. It was rebuilt, and then in 1926 became even more notable:

“In 1925 at a cost of over seven million dollars, Beifeld expanded the hotel with a 23-story tower, another Holabird and Roche design.  By the end of that decade the Hotel Sherman contained 1600 guest rooms and a banquet hall seating 2500.  It was reported to be the largest hotel west of New York City.” (Byfield died Sept 17, 1926, so he was not around too long to enjoy his efforts, tho he might have been on hand for the February show.

sherman hotel
The Sherman House Hotel

“It was at the new Sherman House in 1926 that “Big” Bill Thompson, former mayor of Chicago, acted as a mediator in a “peace conference” between Al Capone and Bugs Moran. On September 26, after a long spring and summer of violence, eight carloads of Moran’s north-siders led by mobster Hymie Weiss, shot up the Hawthorne Hotel in Cicero, where Capone was dining.  Days later Capone ordered the assassination of Weiss, who died in a hail of bullets shot from a snipers’ nest at 747 North State Street, almost directly across the street from Holy Name Cathedral.

At the Hotel Sherman conference, Capone pleaded, “I couldn’t stand hearing my little kid ask why I didn’t stay home in Chicago . . . If it wasn’t for him I’d have said, ‘To hell with you fellows!  We’ll shoot it out.’ But I couldn’t say that, knowing it might mean they’d bring me home some night punctured with machine gun fire.” []

It was decided that Moran’s gang would control the north-side of the city near the lake and Capone would control the south-side below Madison Street, plus Cicero.  As a result there was a 70-day period where no gangland murders occurred, the longest period without machine gun fire in years.”

Where was this location? Tho the hotel is long torn down, the land is now filled with the Thompson Center-no not for the Thompson who was mayor in the 20’s, but the Illinois Governor of 1977-91.

thompson center

The James R. Thompson Center Photo credit: Alan Brunettin

Wish you could find some fashion there? Not too likely, tho there is food. AND they wear hats while they sell. Or at least one can hope they do. March 28, 2017 is a Girl Scout Cookie sale:


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 Café, 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,  headed by Florenz Ziegfield Sr. Mr. Ziegfeld was the father of the Broadway Follies producer Flo Ziegfield, Jr. Topping off at 15 floors  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: Mandel Bros Department Store February 5, 2017

Filed under: Chicago,Chicago Millinery History,fashion,hat,Uncategorized — froufrou4youyou @ 2:00 pm
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Mandel Brothers started in Chicago in 1855 and has a well documented history.

Much of the information provided here came from online archived Chicago Tribune newspapers. One might think looking for advertisements from Mandels that year would be enlightening. Would be if any could be found. In the four page newspaper the ads perhaps comprised a total of one page, mostly small boxes of tiny print. Carpets, curtains and cod liver oil are likely grouped with menswear and embroideries. Advertising was yet to come into it’s own. For trendsetting, Carson, and Pirie, before Scott and Co, and then Marshall Field had great faith in news advertising; others followed suit.

With a presence on State Street, they ultimately gained even more success and stature, when located in a shopping area known for the retail leader, Field and Leiter, later known as Marshall Field and Co.

The obituary of Leon Mandel in 1911 shares the story of his arrival here from Germany in 1851 at the age of 10, leaving school at 13. He went to work at a large dry goods store, Ross and Foster, for $2/week. Five years later Leon and his brother were assisted by Ross in opening their first store, at Clark and Monroe.

If one consults the Chicago History Museum account, based upon the part of the Encyclopedia’s Dictionary of Leading Chicago Businesses (1820-2000), the story is somewhat different. “This retail enterprise, which would become one of Chicago’s leading department stores, was founded in 1855 by Bavarian immigrants Solomon Mandel and his uncle Simon Klein. Their first store was located on Clark Street. In 1865, after Solomon’s brothers Leon and Emanuel joined the firm, its name became Mandel Bros.”

The newspaper article on the death of Mr. Klein indicates that after the Chicago fire of 1871 that Klein opens his own store, and the Mandels opened their own store. What is actually the truth is hard to pick out from such diverse records.

The first major hurdle to survival for the fledgling entrepreneurs was the Panic of 1857. It seems Leon and Emanuel likely left school to earn money when times were challenging.

Mandels survived two fires, in 1871, the great Chicago Fire, and one in 1874.

During the weeks preceding the 1871 fire, the advertisements were primarily on the front  page of the still four page Chicago Daily Tribune paper. In the month following the fire, more advertising appears as still somewhat intact, tho relocated, stores wanted customers desperate for lost goods to find them, bumping the editions to six pages.

Oct 11 is the day after the fire, and the paper is only two pages. DB. Fisk announces opening at 57 W. Washington about Oct. 17. Hayes, GIbbons and Co had a tiny ad and would reopen within the week on State St. Keith Bros will be at 916 Prarie, which was their home.

Oct. 12, Gage (misspelled Gace, but it seems likely proofreading was sparse just then) has an ad with offices open at 419 Michigan ave, and states they will open at 961 Indiana, about Oct 20. As wholesalers they stocked stores in far away places as well as here.

H. W. and J. M. Wetherell, was advertising wholesale millinery to reopen, and they later did at 369 Wabash. Hard to believe this was so essential, but those were the days no women went out of the house without a hat.

In Nov 1871 Carsons also had reopened south of the burned out center of the city, at 138 22nd St. Mandels opened Nov 6, and was close by at 22nd and Michigan Ave. The fire had burned out both their original store, and the soon to open new store at Harrison and State.

A 1901 account of the life of the youngest brother, Emanuel, credits him with the discovery of the new site, and his successful effort to stock it. He had departed for NY in search of goods, but many others had as well. Instead he went to Detroit and purchased from their wholesale district, having the goods shipped back to Chicago. This allowed the store to reopen a week after the fire. That location was under his guidance for five more years.

“Within two days they had secured funds for reconstructing the State St building and were underway again when another fire in 1874 ruined the new structure.”

Nov 16, 1883 brought a lesser fire, confined to the 4th floor, which was the top floor, and shattered glass and water caused significant stock damage, fortunately insured. This fire was thought to be caused by overheated steam pipes.

Just when Mandels was fire free, on Feb 23. 1899 a massive fire at an adjoining store created a flood of their entire basement, with loss of mostly carpets and rugs. Manels had just opened a tea room in 1898, so they had plans to stay where they were. Perhaps there was a silver lining to the tragedy of the McClurg store, after all. Mandels purchased the land and had a new store ready to be occupied the start of 1901.

In 1911 Leon Madel’s death was marked by a small box ad in the Tribune on page 3.

The store published their own newspaper for employees. The Chicago History Museum had three issues, from June 26, 1912, Sept 18, 1912, and April 16, 1913. In a column they wrote called Personal Mention there were only three millinery staff included. In June 1912 we learn that Miss Frances Watkins of basement millinery would leave July 2 for a month in Kenosha, WI, and Miss Lee Mohr, “a faithful worker in basement millinery,” leaves July 2 for a month rest. She would be traveling to Canada and also her home in Buffalo, NY. In Sept the good news was shared that Miss Catherine Cornwall married George LeMeiux and left for a NY honeymoon. They would return after Oct. 15, to reside at 1035 N. Lawndale. These extended time off periods are a bit of a mystery. It is highly doubtful these were paid vacation times. Perhaps slow seasons allowed staff to take time off on their own. The April 1913 issue had rankings of the store departments for March sales leaders. Of 148 depts millinery came in number 41, and another millinery group came in 62. Spring sales of Easter wear would have accounted for their success.

On Sept. 21, 1930 the death of Fred Mandel, Leon’s son, was covered in an article. Before he left for Paris he had cut the cake back in March to celebrate the 75th anniversary. Most stores close upon the death of the founder, but this was a founder’s son, so the show had to go on. In this situation there was a 6 page ad running for the 75th anniversary. Hats were $10, and in the Subway Store, the bargain basement, the values were at $3.50.

A centennial celebration for the enterprise in 1955 was covered with an article, mentioning the original brothers Soloman, Leon, Simon and Emanuel joined in 1865, to carry forward the store of Simon Klein, their uncle, which had changed into Klein & Mandel in 1855. 1

Mandels was a leader in many ways, with the first live models for fashions, and in 1934, a unique shopping experience for a niche group, nuns.

“From the perspective of the secular world, one effect of religious practices and identities has been to define potential markets. Mandel Brothers, a downtown department store, took out a full-page ad in a 1934 publication of the Archdiocese of Chicago to announce the existence of private shopping accommodations for nuns.”

In 1929 a ladies life included the essential pastime of bridge. Mandel Bros was not to miss a marketing opportunity. They held presentations by a bridge authority in the new Bridge Shop in the Foreign Shop on the 9th floor. Ladies were encouraged to select tallies, prizes, even bridge tables to impress their friends.

Of course one could also shop for a stunning new hat to wear to the favorite bridge game. The KNOX “Piquant” felt hat could be fitted to your head in a choice of four colors for $15. Then again the newspaper reader may already have been even far more impressed by the full page ad from Marshall Field and Co that day. They offered a 2 hour commitment to make your hat, also fitted to your head, for a mere $11, but in SEVENTY-FIVE colors! Not everyone may have been tempted by those options. There was an ad for Charles A. Stevens with a clearance of 200 hats for $2.50, with values to $25.

For the careful reader of the page of school advertisements, there is one tiny box at the bottom of the Vogue School, for fashion. It is listed as held at Millinery Modes 116 S. Michigan Ave. One wonders how many customers thought it would be a swell idea to learn to make their own hats, and perhaps have a career as well. This might be a good idea if you did not love bridge.

The Vogue School was successful, an entity of the The Commercial Art School, started in 1916, and evolved into the Ray-Vogue School of Design. It lastly became the Illinois Institute of Art. (Not to be confused with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.)–_Chicago

The lives of the Mandel Bros were anything but dull. If fire did not cause havoc, crime had an impact.

In December 1935, the father Leon and  son Frederick, with their wives, were returning from the Stevens Hotel to the yacht, which was the home of  the Leon Mandels. Gunmen accosted their car, and a shootout ensued. The shootout was on the part of the robbers, the watchman from the yacht, and Mr. Mandel as well. Since the robbers had grabbed Mrs. Mandel as a shield, Mr. Mandel pulled a pistol from the car’s glove box. No one was caught, and fortunately no one died.

Certainly one would hope never to experience another gun battle, but such was not the case. At the top of this blog is one front page from the Chicago Tribune from Apr. 1957. A planned major burglary of the store was tipped off to the police and an undercover operation was in place. It had an ugly outcome.

What remains of buildings which held hats for Mandels? Perhaps only a warehouse at 3254 N. Halstead, where the name is in granite.

For an excellent overview of the company, this blog tells much the same as included above, plus far more.

Perhaps you wonder what the Mandels did with their wealth? Plenty of things, many philanthropic, but also fun related. In 1940 Fred Mandel, director of Mandel Bros. department store bought the Detroit Lions. (Since today is SuperBowl Sunday, it seemed fitting to add that timely tidbit.)



Chicago Millinery History: Cats Pajamas Vintage Clothing, Jewelry and Textile Show and Sale March 1, 2013

This event brings lots of hats to the general Chicago area, in Elgin, IL each February. As exciting as that is, the good news is that they return to Elgin in Sept.

Waiting in line on Friday behind a velvet rope the conversations around us were a fun way to get to hear how devoted folks were to vintage, and hats in particular. Several spoke of their spreadsheets documenting their collection of hundreds. On Fri the admission fee is lowered for those attending in vintage attire. That is like watching a vintage show in motion as these guys and gals explore the newest old goodies to be had.


The best display of hats, and stocking the best selection of antique hats must go to the booth just inside the door. I believe my hat buddy, Iris, who loves this shopping extravaganza as much as I do, bought three from this booth.










Here are photos from many booths of glorious hats.


Wish I could remember which booth this was, so nicely arranged.


Iris bought a Saks hat with an Iris from a grand fellow, Joe from New Orleans, with the booth Eojnola. Joe is also a milliner, and someone it would be fun to know. The bird hat above was just one of dozens we left behind.


I loved this hat, but so did a gal I saw the next morning wearing it. What fun when you can put your purchase right on your head.




Carries, Fabulous to Funky, from Campaign, IL had feather fans, which caught my eye initially, but sadly she had not brought along her stock of feathers, tho there were plenty of wonderful feather hats.

Across from Carrie’s was the one place I bought a hat the next day. I always ask for Chicago hats, especially Bes Ben or Raymond Hudd, although there were no Hudd hats anywhere we could find this year,
The seller was Karen Renfrow of D. Brett Benson, Inc of Chicago, exhibiting routinely at Broadway Antique Market booth 763 at 6130 N. Broadway in Chicago. There was a Bes Ben, which was so distracting I forgot to take photos of her booth! A little green leaf hat with tiny fruit and berries. Hard call, but I waited till she brought in another on Sat AM, a red moonstone. That red hat just added the needed pop of color to my display for my presentation on Chicago Hats at noon. IF you check with Karen she may still have that green leaf BesBen yet.


Downstairs were so many more treasured sellers of hats, and much better lighting:






Iris is just torn between this black felt Bes Ben with pearl bead edging from Jenstyle chic vintage ( This treasure was still there when we left on Sat, so maybe it is still available. It was so hard to leave it behind.

But then I fell in love at the next booth, Musser’s Atomic Antiques from Rockford. Here I am taking a photo of the display wearing my biggest hat, if you can find me below, in the mirror:



Not sure now just where these were from!





Happy shopper, Iris as she entertains the idea of a hat from Woodland Farms of TX.


Just above is the tip of the iceberg of beauty in hats from Woodland Farms Vintage of Dallas Tx. This group takes up two booths for the most exquisite collection of fashion. Here are SOME of their treasures:












There are great photos, but perhaps bigger is better:












Alas it was time to move on to other sellers:
























Susie’s from Schaumberg, IL had hat boxes of flowers, and they were a great temptation.


Swell Stuff from Evanston had hats, and trims.




Fun was had with the presentation on Chicago Hats. What a great opportunity to meet some fine folks, and share some tidbits about Gage, Fisk, Edson Keith, Hats by Sue, Mildred Reed, Shelia, the Perfect Hat, Luci Puci and Lemington, Bes Ben, Raymond Hudd and more.





Coming to Elgin Sept 27 and 28? Hope to see you there. I may even wear my BIG gold felt hat with feathers. Will you be wearing a hat? Hope so!