That Hat!

A few weeks ago, I happily came upon the opening night reception for Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles current exhibit, THAT HAT! 100 Years of Hats in Fashion. While I’m always game for an impromptu show of vintage hats, my unclad dome wished it could have showcased something from my teetering towers of hat boxes at home. It’s not every day that I’m in a roomful of aficionados, but I resisted the urge to grab something off the wall and slap it onto my head. Most of the assembled guests seemed to have planned ahead and dressed for the occasion.

Bonnets, top hats, toy hats, cloches, a pith helmet, a calash from the late 1700s and fascinators galore. Fur, feathers and felt, found in well over one hundred hats, over a span of what’s probably closer to 175 years. It’s a nicely curated, very comprehensive little show of American popular fashions. Fantastic examples of a wide variety of millinery which rival the several delightfully creepy wax mannequins donning them.

 It’s really interesting to see how the beauty standard has changed over the past 100 years. The mannequins’ physical appearance change almost as much as the fashions of each decade. Beyond the obvious hair and makeup styles (or use of) – height, face shape, coloring and expression all dramatically morph too.

Fun fact: Strands of hair on wax mannequins, including the eyebrows and lashes around the glass eyes, are individually inserted using a hot needle.

Fun fact 2: Wax mannequins are difficult to come across (production tapered off in favor of fiberglass after WWI) not just because many melted beyond recognition in hot attics, but also because rats would often chew on their extremities. Wee!

That Hat! 100 Years of Hats in Fashion is showing at Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles, 2982 Adeline Street in Berkeley, California from April 7th until August 4th, 2012.


Photos by Jeremy Brautman.


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