Archives for posts with tag: hats

 

colonial-art-mrs-graham-of-kinross-her-daughter-and-a-jamadar-1786c

colonial artist, Mrs Graham of Kinross, her daughter and a Jamadar (India), 1786

Today I was guest blogger on one of the more eccentric history blogs around: http://www.madamegilflurt.com

http://www.madamegilflurt.com/2016/10/anglomania-hats-and-english-ladies-of.html

I dedicated my attention to large hats and english women in the sartorially wonderful period of the 1780s. One of the rare moments in fashion history when Britain ruled the style waves!

fratelli Limbourg,t.r.h.d.Duc de Berry,gennaio,part,1412-16,MC Chantilly

Limburg brothers, Les Tres Riches Heures de Duc de Berry, (detail : Duke John de Berry in blue and fur hat),1412-16, Musée Condé, Chantilly, FR

Once again we return to the 1400s to talk about men and hats. As I mentioned in the previous post, this was a particularly creative moment for hat makers throughout Europe. In this post I want to explore a symbolic “statement piece” of the male wardrobe – the fur hat.

Jan van Eyck,uomo con garofano,1435c,MS Berlin

Jan van Eyck, Man with a carnation, 1435c, Staatliche Museum, Berlin, Germany

Petrus Christus, man with falcon,1445-50c,Stadel Museum, Frankfurt

 Petrus Christus, Man with falcon, silverpoint on paper, 1445-50c, Stadel Museum, Frankfurt, Germany

 The painting and the drawing above show realistic examples of a most fashionable type of hat for men in northern Europe during the 1400s. it was large, shaped and made of fur. Fur was not the novelty here – fur had been around for thousands of years of course – what was new was that artisans now had the technology and skills to produce such large, free-standing (i.e. structured to hold the shape) headwear.

So why use fur? Just like today fur was expensive and exclusive. It was a status symbol in western society. It is significant that this type of fur hat becomes fashionable in Burgundy/the Netherlands , since the northern ports of this region were international fur trading centres. Cargos of precious furs came through  (for example the most exclusive of furs, sable, would come from Russia) and be sold on to merchants from the major cities of North and South Europe.

Not only do we see these fur hats in male portraits during the 15th Century, but we also find saints and other males who populate the religious paintings of the Netherlandish school  wearing fur-lined “costumes”, including hats.

Dieric Bouts, Martydom of st Erasmus, detail

Dieric Bouts, Martydom of St Erasmus (detail), 1458c, St Peter’s church, Leuven, Belgium

Here the central figure wears a fur-lined cap, the brim of which has been turned over and pinned back, giving it a strange exotic feel. The two-tone fur is probably mink.

 The Big Fur Hat trend soon petered out  and eventually gave way, in the early 16th Century, to the Big Fur Cap trend.

In northern Europe especially, these are often made of rare and expensive fur such as sable (rather than local fox or rabbit).

Hans Maler,Sebastian Andorfer,1517,met NY

Hans Maler, Sebastian Andorfer, 1517, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA

This gentleman wears a large cap (originally known as a Milanese bonnet or bereta) with a wide, segmented and upturned brim. What is unusual is that instead of being made of felt or velvet, it is made of Russian sable.  Once again a true statement to the man’s wealth and social status. We must, however, concede to the need for warm headwear in the rigidly cold winter months  of countries like Germany, where this gentleman lived.

From the 17th Century onward fur in its natural state falls out of fashion in favour of the use of fur felt. Fur hats seem to be relegated to the sphere of extreme weather conditions and certain cold-weather sports. In the 20th Century for example, with the appearance of the first automobiles,  warm hats were required as cars had no overhead covering or windscreen.

male hat, wool and fur, 1900c, met ny

 Man’s wool cap trimmed in fur, possibly for motoring, American, 1900, Metropolitan museum , New York, USA

Today men still wear fur hats in extreme weather conditions; placing this accessory in the sportswear category rather than fashion. However men’s fashion designers have recently returned to the idea of fur for men. This winter’s collections were full of fur in all shapes, sizes and colours. Possibly the most bizare use of fur was at Moncler’s Gamme Rouge catwalk show – it will be interesting to see if we spot any item from this collection in the streets of New York, Paris, London or Milan by Christmas time….

Moncler Gamme rouge aW 13.14

Moncler Gamme Rouge, fur outfit, A/W 2013-14

 

gentlemen,Montreal,1895,McCord mus

Photo anon, Gentlemen, Montreal, 1895c, McCord museum, Canada

One of the earliest images I have found of a top hat (by that I mean a hat that has been built up in height and is made of wool, fur felt or other material that can be “shaped”) dates from the early 1400s:

col works Christine de Pisan,1415c,BL

Illuminated manuscript, The collected works of Christine de Pisan, 1415c, British Library , UK

In this image,  where we see French noblemen and kneeling before them the formidable Christine de Pisan, in the act of presenting her new  book , the gentleman in dark pink on the right is wearing a tall, black hat decorated with red and white feathers held by a gold brooch. Like the rest of the men, his head is covered despite being indoors, confirming the new fashion of the period. A gentleman always covered his head except in the privacy of his own home. This new trend gives great impetus to contemporary hat makers who competed with each other to create the most striking shapes. The size of these hats is also significant – they are large and attention seeking. The black hat he is wearing is important because it represents a new manufacturing skill of the period – the ability to shape felt (wool or the more costly fur)  by moulding the material over a wooden, pre-carved shape or “block”. This is still the way felt hats are made today.

In subsequent centuries,  the top hat disappears making room for an array of shapes and sizes in the history of men’s head-coverings.

We meet up again with the top hat in England  during the last decade of the 18th Century. But it is really in France during the Directory   that we see the top hat become the emblem of the new dandy fashions – wonderfully represented in the fashion plates produced by the Vernet family  between the end of the 1700s and the first decades of the 1800s

H.Vernet, Incroyable (parasole)1799-1815

Horace Vernet, “Un Incroyable” (or The parasol), France, 1799-1815c

At first contained in size, it will rise to extreme heights during the course of the 19th Century. Between 1800 and 1900 it is THE accessory for men, synonymous with status and power.

silk plush top hat,1892,McCord mus

Silk plush top hat, 1892, McCord Museum, Canada

Giuseppe Molteni

Giuseppe Molteni (Italian), 1835-9c, for sale: Lorenzo Vatalaro Antiques

Continental gentlemen took their elegance seriously, even when out game shooting. The Italian nobleman above wears a light coloured top hat with contrasting edging and green lining. The artist has expertly represented the “plush” (slight pile or furiness) of the material and the way it reflects the light. Exactly the desired characteristics of this mid-season or early summer hat. Very similar to the surviving item below.

Jas Wilson,top hat,1830-40c,manch.

Top hat, 1830-40c, Manchester museum UK

In full summer, in America top hats were even made of straw to combat the heat. Managing to combine the symbolic with the practical in a very elegant manner.

cappello, paglia, 1850c, mfa Bost

Top hat, straw, 1850c, M.F.A. Boston, USA