Friday, May 22, 2015

More 18th c. Hats from Colonial Williamsburg

Friday, May 22, 2015
Isabella reporting,

Since everyone enjoyed the white silk hat that milliner's apprentice Abby Cox was wearing in my last post, I'm sharing three more hats inspired by 18th c. portraits and fashion plates and recreated by the Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop in Colonial Williamsburg.

The white hat, above left, features a silk-covered straw brim trimmed with silk flowers, gathered gauze, a coyly trailing silk ornament, and red silk ribbon to tie it all up. You can see the inspiration for this hat in the 1776 print A Bagnigge Wells scene, or, No resisting temptation here.

The extravagantly striped silk hat, right, with a tall crown is similar to hats found in French fashion plates of around 1787. Built on a frame of wire and buckram, it's trimmed with white cock's feathers, but also popular were hats that featured similar plumes made from more exotic (and now considered endangered) vulture  feathers. This hat was recently worn with the appropriately full hairstyle of the era by Nicole Rudolph, who also works in the shop - see her here on the shop's Facebook page. No one said "wow" in the 18thc., but that IS the proper response.

Abby models a hat of black silk taffeta and gauze of around 1781, lower left, that's a close cousin to the white hat she was wearing in my post earlier this week. Black silk seems to have been much more popular for this style of hat than the white, perhaps because it was easier to keep fresh, or simply because it seemed more elegant. (I know it's much harder to photograph, which is why there's a second picture of it, bottom left.) As Nicole Rudolph said, the black silk hat is the Little Black Dress of late 18th c. Britain.

If you were a Georgian lady visiting the shop, which would you choose? I warn you: Abby can be very persuasive behind the counter. You might end up with all three....

Many thanks to Abby Cox!

All photographs copyright 2015 Susan Holloway Scott.


Sarah said...

the striped topper, most certainly, and I'd feel I looked like Marguerite Blakeney!

Chris Woodyard said...

Delightful post! And what fetching hats!

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