In this portion of our website, a curator from NSMLV will highlight new and/or interesting pieces from his or her collection.
Star Milliners in American Fashion - Part 1
Milliners are artisans who design and construct headwear; their wares are known as millinery. There was a time in America when it was considered vulgar to leave the house bareheaded. It was a time when hats were vital to the well-dressed woman's wardrobe and those personalities engaged in the business of hat design were admired and celebrated like the motion picture stars of the period.
Hattie Carnegie and Tatiana du Plessix are two star milliners of the early and middle 20th century. Both women were immigrants who settled in America's fashion capital New York City. The designers' bold, made-to-order hat collections were purchased by connoisseurs and promoted by consumer fashion magazines. Their glamorous personal lives were fair game for headlines and their aficionada looked to the designers for style tips and fashion advice. America's fascination with millinery has since waned with star milliners a charm of the past.
The costume & textile collection at the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas, includes wonderful extant examples from both designers. In this post, we'll take a look at the museum's cartwheel hat from star milliner Miss Hattie Carnegie.
Hattie Carnegie was a prominent name in American fashion throughout the 1920s, 30s and 40s. She was a savvy entrepreneur and invented the model of a "head-to-hem" retail boutique. Her custom salon was established in New York City in the early 20th century and, initially, the store featured Carnegie's collection of made-to-order "gowns and millinery." Later, the designer would offer perfume, cosmetics, handbags, gloves, lingerie, jewelry and even a line of fine Hattie Carnegie chocolates.
Carnegie's recurring Vogue magazine column “Vogue Points from Hattie Carnegie” featured style tips and fashion forecasts and served to consistently promote her lifestyle fashion brand.
The museum's jet-color, cartwheel hat features a set-back crown; satin band with bowknot and a large concentrically tiered brim with a 22" diameter. The Hattie Carnegie cartwheel hat is dated circa 1944-1949.
The cartwheel hat comes by its name literally; from above, the hat resembles a cart's wheel.
The cartwheel-style hat is a very feminine and flattering shape on most women and, as a result, never completely disappears from the fashion runways.
Our Hattie Carnegie cartwheel was donated with its "Carnegie Blue" hat box.