(Originally blogged April 16, 2009)
There have been few books written about hats; since hats have been more ‘out’ than ‘in’ fashion since the 1960s everyone forgets what great accessories they were. One of the few publications on the topic is well known to fans of the chapeau – written by Sue Langley Hats & Bonnets 1770 – 1970 was published in 1998 and graces the shelves of most collectors, museums, and libraries I know.
At the risk of using a predictable cliche, I am happy to announce that Sue Langley has thrown her hat in the ring once again with a second edition of Hats & Bonnets. However, this is far more than just an updated first edition – its an entirely new book featuring hat and bonnet treasures she has found in the past decade. Not only are all the images new but there is also much new research.
An interesting snippet from this volume discusses the Society for Abolishing the Wearing of Birds. In the 1890s, even though fashionable women slung pelts of mink, fox, seal and otter around their necks, they were concerned about the use of bird’s wings from rare species, like parrots, to trim hats. Princess Alexandra of England, a fashion leader of the era, was at the forefront of this anti-feather movement.
The 416 page, all colour illustrated tome is from Collector Books. Although designed as a collector’s guide, I never pay much attention to suggested retail price guides – those prices become dated after a while. For me, the value will remain in the book for its depiction of outrageous, rare, whimsical, beautiful, and sometimes even practical hats and bonnets. Sue’s collection is a treasure and her willingness to share invaluable. There are exceptional examples from milliners such as Jeanne Lanvin, Rose Valois, Jack McConnell, Sally Victor, Lily Dache, as well as some unique novelties such as a World War II hat trimmed with velvet carrots and a beach hat a yard in width! Hats & Bonnets 1770 – 1970 Second Edition is a valuable visual guide to the history of getting a head of fashion.