Wednesday, September 7, 2011

We Take Our Hats Off To......

Millinery these days is a rather forgotten part of the fashion scene, not every woman wears a hat and when they do, it is only for special occasions. Not too long ago they were once an essential part of a woman’s wardrobe. Famous milliners are far and few between, and except for Stephen Jones and Phillip Treacy, not many of us would be able to name any other milliners of note. It is also surprising that some of the biggest names in fashion such as Chanel and Halston both started off as milliners. In fact Halson started off his career with today’s milliner featured.

The most pre-eminent and famous milliner in the America’s from the 1930s through to the late 1960s was not even an American. Lilly Dache originally from France immigrated to America around 1924. Apparently arriving with very little money (hey don’t most immigrants), she embarked on a career which would see her become the most famous milliner in the America’s and if not the world for her time.

Her major contributions to millinery were draped turbans, brimmed hats molded to the head, half hats, visored caps for war workers, colored snoods, and romantic massed-flower shapes. By 1949, she was designing dresses to go with her hats, as well as lingerie, loungewear, gloves, hosiery, perfumes, cosmetics and a wired strapless bra.

Using her name as inspiration one of her fragrances was named Dashing and a later line of pret a porter hats marketed towards the young called Dachettes.

If anything a hat by Dache was distinctive. Never one to shy away from creating an impact, her hats were dramatic and were the final accessory to a woman’s wardrobe. Ideally, she believed that each hat should be custom fit for the woman and the occasion- It needed to enhance the wearer’s physical features, so size, style, and fit were important; but the hat also needed to show off each woman s personality and inner beauty.

Daché is reported to have said, "Glamour is what makes a man ask for your telephone number. But it also is what makes a woman ask for the name of your dressmaker."

Like Helena Rubinstein in later years Daché would often conduct business from her bed, "dictating letters, buying supplies, designing, and interviewing employees while wrapped in a leopard-skin rug." Occasionally meetings were held in her bathroom, where Daché would give orders from a deep bubble bath.

At her Salon in New York brunette clients were guided to a fitting room decorated in shimmering silver while blonde clients were ushered into a dressing room of gleaming gold. Wholesalers were treated to a circular room swathed in tufted pink satin. Bells adorned Daché's leopard-skin slippers, perhaps "to warn her girls of her approach, a job later undertaken by her armful of jingling bangles."

Daché retired in 1968, and her New York millinery business was taken over by her daughter Suzanne Daché.

"I like beautiful shoes in gay colors, with thick platforms and high heels. I like splashy jewelry that clinks when I walk, and I like my earrings big. I am Lilly Daché, milliner de luxe."


  1. can you even imagine walking down the
    street and seeing these women walking by you?

  2. It's interesting to note the large reference library behind Daché in the second photograph. It looks as though she's in the process of designing jewelry on an African theme ...

  3. So inspirational!!

  4. Your Posts are always somehow magic, makes you dream a bit. I wish hats would become again in fashion...soon!

  5. Love this post. So interesting.
    It's very inspiring too. I really like these pictures.

  6. Ooh, I so loved reading this post David ... I honestly imagined myself being there (like a fly on the wall) witnessing all this greatness!

    I'm sure this art form will never die ... like our friend Anya, who is very talented and keeping it very much alive!

    Love the gorgeous b/w image of model getting ready to powder her nose with that stunning hat.

  7. so love that last quote! my gran was a milliner, and i've always had an intrigue. I just wish i had a hat head, have never found one i truly love.

  8. wow totally love this post!!!
    so amazing!!!
    the story is so cool!! and i love the way you write

    Syriously in Fashion
    Syriously Facebook Page
    Please help me with Mawi competition

  9. David thank you for a wonderful post on a fascinating woman. I wish hats were worn by American women again. The lifestyle for most is so so casual!


    Art by Karena

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. David, I am sure you know how much I love your post, how much I enjoyed your selection of pictures and your text.Mrs. Dache is one of my beloved Milliners and I could only wish to go back in time to see her phenomenal 'House Of Hats". She was truly an extraordinary lady who left behind entire legacy of hats, how to fit them, how to wear them...The fact that she had perfume became a very pleasant surprise and my discovery of today. Thank you for this wonderful post. I hope that one day I will be able to look back and realize that I have made at least half of unforgettablewhat Mrs. Dache managed to create in her time.

  12. this is wonderful and so interesting!!

  13. LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS POST! I'm going to buy a Chapeau right now and I don't care anyone telling me crazy exentric or any stupid thing like that! Have a brilliant day David! XoXo

  14. Wonderful post as usual. If you have a chance, read Lily Daché's Glamour Book. I think more women (and men) would have elegance and allure if they read this inspirational and really quite logical book about how to dress and have personal style.

    Great selection of images about Daché.

  15. Loved this post David! It brings to mind an old New Yorker piece I read by the daughter of one of Bendel's bonnet designers. Damn! It's always stuck in my memory except for the names!

  16. I am so glad that all loved this post. I really did enjoy writing it and doing research for it!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin