Canadian Fashion Connection – Lady Beatrice

Lady Beatrice was a mid-priced line of millinery sold through Eaton’s department stores, and possibly other venues. The line was created by K&G Hats Ltd., 55 York St., Toronto, ON. The company was operated by Philip Katz (president) and Harry Glassman (vice president), and was in operation from 1935 until at least 1965. The company went out of business sometime between 1966 and 1979, and was expunged in 1980.

Hat Flirtations

I have posted before about fan and hankie and parasol flirtations that can supposedly be used to speak across a ballroom floor to engage a suitor. However, these were really just marketing opportunities by makers of the products, starting in the 1850s when George Duvelleroy, a Parisian fan maker, invented fan language and printed it up on cards. Here is a new one I had never heard of – hats. I found this undated reprint, probably from the early 20th century, online.

Canadian Fashion Connection – Anita Pineault

Anita Pineault, late 1980s

The oldest of nine siblings, Anita Chouinard was born in Quebec in 1917. Her last name was changed to Pineault when she married. When he left to serve in Europe during World War II Anita took a job with the Montreal firm Nadel Hat. Her talent was quickly realized by owner Teddy Nadel and she was soon promoted to design for the company.

Anita launched her own company in the 1950s and, with high standards, built a successful international business, exporting hats to New York and making hats for designer collections. In later years she launched a line of scarves. In the late 1980s she sold her company to European interests and retired to Kingston Ontario. She passed away at the age of 92 on January 20, 2009.

Thanks to themerchantsofvintage for finding an obit that opened research doors!

Canadian Fashion Connection: D. McCall & Co.

The wholesale millinery business of D. McCall & Co., was established in 1879 by Dougald McCall and William Blackley (Blackley had immigrated to Montreal from Scotland in 1860 and moved to Toronto in 1866.) The business was originally located at 51 Yonge Street, but soon outgrew the premises and moved to 12 and 14 Wellington street, a stone building consisting of 36,000 square feet over five floors. An advertisement from 1886 boasts that they employed 17 clerks and salesmen in the showroom, 125 women in the factory, and 9 commercial travellers who sold McCall millinery throughout Canada.

The business imported undecorated hat forms and finished hats from France, Germany, England, and the United States, as well as all the trimmings associated with millinery including feathers imported from around the world. By 1892 they had opened a branch in Montreal. That same year, the Canadian Dry Goods Review promoted their business in February as having a huge variety of “Hats and bonnets, flowers, ribbons, laces, silks, jet goods, veilings, trimmings of all kinds… We almost forgot to mention the magnificent range of mantles which this firm carry”.

The business expanded to Winnipeg in 1900, with the Toronto location moving to new premises some time thereafter. Web search results for the company dating after 1900 drop off suggesting that the company closed sometime during the 1900s or early 1910s. It could be that the company closed with the death of McCall and/or Blackley.

The last Toronto location of D. McCall Co., c. 1910, address unknown

Canadian Fashion Connection – Kates Boutique

The Montreal millinery company Kates Boutique was founded in December 1969. Kates was a supplier of basic fashion headwear to bridal shops, department stores and hat salons across the country. The company was incorporated in March 1993, at which point its official name was changed to Kates Millinery (1993) Inc. The company ceased production in January 2002 and was legally dissolved in December 2003.

Straw Hat Day and Felt Hat Day

The stiff straw boater (aka skimmer) became a popular summer hat for men in the 1890s and remained popular until the 1920s. Typically worn for semi-formal occasions, they were usually donned with lightweight summer suits, or blazers with white flannels and often worn at boating events, which is the origin for its name. Finer, softer, Panama straws became more popular with younger men by the 1930s, although boaters were worn into the 1950s by older men. 

Men wearing boaters, New York City, July 1921

There rose a peculiar observance in the U.S. in the early 1900s called ‘Straw Hat Day’. This was to be the first day when men wore their straw boaters, abandoning their wintery felt hats for the summer season. The exact date for this observance varied from place to place and year to year, but usually occurred around mid-late May. The Fall counterpart ‘Felt Hat Day’ when the boater was put away, occurred around mid-September to early October. Like the wearing of hats in general, this observance gradually disappeared – the last time it was mentioned in the New York Times was 1963, well after straw boaters had fallen from fashion.

When the convention was being especially observed in the early 1920s, a tradition of destroying your summer hat at the end of the season began as a lark but got out of hand when it escalated into the Straw Hat Riot of 1922. What began as a small group of teenage boys snatching and destroying hats on September 13, two days before Felt Hat Day, grew into a mob of ‘hooligans’ destroying straw hats and beating men who resisted their hats being taken. After eight days and several arrests, the hat smashing orgy was stopped. Magistrate Peter Hatting (no kidding, that’s his name…) was quoted in the September 14 New York Times: ‘It is against the law to smash a man’s hat, and he has a right to wear it in a January snowstorm if he wishes.” 

Although this 1922 event was the worst event of this nature, every year saw occurrences of unwanted hat snatching and destruction until the boater fell from popularity by the end of the 1920s.

What to do with a short leading man…

Ingrid Bergman looking up to Humphrey Bogart in 1942’s Casablanca

Humphrey Bogart was 5’7″, and his leading lady in Casablanca, Ingrid Bergman, was 5’9″ — so how do you get them to appear nearly identical in height in scenes like the one at the airport ? You start with the hats. Bogart wore high crowned fedoras while Bergman wore low slouched, turned-down brim styles. Next, you go to the feet. Bergman’s feet are rarely shown, because they are in low heeled shoes, while Bogart wore strap-on clogs for scenes where he and Bergman had close conversations.

Bergman in low-heeled sandals and turned-down and slouch-brimmed hats to play down her height
Bogart’s 3 inch platform clog strap-ons