Take a break from those hot summer rays with this Genuine Breez-A Panama / Made in South America / Original Roberta Bernays New York creation. Lightweight and woven to perfection, this perky cap is an unusual take on the traditional Panama hat form. It has openwork around the crown and brim only on the sides and front, but it does have a traditional black ribbon. Comfort and fashion in one hat. It probably dates to the 1940s.

It was worn in the Lowcountry by Ruth Holmes Walker Gadsden (1895-1980), probably in the 1940s. She and her husband, William Boyle Gadsden lived in Summerville at what is now The Woodlands; they married in 1926. Ruth was an active socialite in the years surrounding World War II and the Museum has much of her stylish clothing (see dress)

Panama hats were actually not made in Panama, but in Ecuador. The toquilla straw hat was made from the plaited leaves of the Carludovia palmata plant as early as the 17th century. These Ecuadorian products were sent to Panama for shipment on to further destinations. They were named and popularized by President Teddy Roosevelt, who was photographed wearing a “Panama hat” while viewing the construction of the Panama Canal in 1904.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

What a beautiful summer hat to wear to a garden party!

This finely made straw garden party or picture hat with ribbon rosette and streamers would have right in style in the 1930s. It bears a Dunlap / New York / Extra Quality label. Dunlap was perhaps best known as a high end men’s hatter, but they certainly furnished women’s hats as well. Dunlap advertised in 1925 that they had “Agents in all Principal Cities” – and Charleston was no exception. This hat was retailed here at Snelgrove’s, Inc., a woman’s clothing shop that grew out of The French Hat Shop, 1915, owned and operated by Blanche Caughman Snelgrove (1879-1958) and her husband, Sydney C. Snelgrove. The name changed to Snelgrove’s, Inc. around 1936, but the shop remained at 258 King Street.

This stylish creation was worn by the donor, Helen Gaines Sloan Torrence (1875-1970), widow of Dr. Crown Torrence. In 1934, she lived at 30 Church Street; in 1936, her residence was listed at 27 Lamboll Street, Apartment 2. At that time, she was the Librarian at the Charleston County Free Library.

This hat is on exhibit in Fashion Accessories: Hats until January 19, 2014!

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

Time for a little Black Magic!

This wonderful black silk dress, c. 1910, is full of magical details. Typical of that time period, there is a complicated fastening system – the under bodice has 12 hooks and eyes with a brocade “stomacher’ that has four snaps, right to left. The outer dress has 4 snaps over to the left shoulder and four snaps on the left side. The collar has four snaps on the left front and the waist sash has three snaps on the left side.

Also typical are the tunic panels over the skirt; these gauzy panels have weights sewn at the hem for proper draping. The fabulous swirl design appliqués ornament the garment. The long sleeves each have nine covered buttons.

This dress was worn by Lucy Robertson Garden (1845-1930). She was born in Charlottesville, VA and married  Hugh Richardson Garden of Sumter, SC in 1868.

Large hats in the early 20th century made a bold statement. Perhaps Lucy chose one of these hats (given to us by the same donor) to wear with this dress. The black straw hat is encircled with black silk and plumed with a feather spray. It has a Gimbel Brothers / New York / Philadelphia / Paris label. The very successful Gimbel’s Department Store was founded in 1887 and was hugely popular in the early 20th century.

The other hat worn by Lucy Garden is a black velvet toque with a wide band of iridescent feathers around. On the left is a dramatic swooping bird, this one made of felt with real feathers. It bears a Stern Brothers / Paris / New York label. Stern Brothers was founded in1867 in Buffalo, but soon moved to New York. They were famous for their French fashions and elegant doormen wearing top hats.

Feathers were very fashionable in the early century, so much so that many bird populations were threatened. In fact, it was such a huge problem that it led to the organization of the Audubon and conservation societies, who sought to ban the trade and persuade ladies not to use feathers for fashion.

The third hat, though not originally owned by Lucy Garden, would have been a perfect accompaniment. It too is straw with a band of black netting and abundant black feathers all around. It has a Noble & Lincoln / Fine Millinery / 1635 Chestnut St. / Philadelphia label. The Misses Noble and Lincoln opened their smart millinery shop in 1921 and advertised a “full line of Imported Novelties in Bonnets, Toques, and Hats – Mourning a Specialty.”

To complete our black ensemble is a pair of black satin high button shoes, c. 1916. These were probably worn by the donor, Bernice Dukes Vose (1882-1964) in Rowesville, S.C. They have a D. Armstrong & Co. / Rochester” label. Rochester, New York was one of the country’s leading shoe towns and D. Armstrong & Co. at 115 Exchange Street were “Manufacturers of Women’s Boots and Low Shoes,” from at least 1901 through the 1920s.

You might enjoy reading more about the exploitive millinery trade in the early 20th century at:

http://fashioningfeathers.com/murderous-millinery/

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

Throughout the 19th and early 20th century, hats were perhaps the most essential and flamboyant fashion accessory. Whether going to church, the market or just visiting, a woman would always wear a hat. After World War II, this requirement declined until it was no longer socially important in the 1960s. Even the Catholic Church abandoned its requirement of head coverings for women in 1967.

Straw hat with purple velvet and silk trim, 1890s. The label inside is Mme. Virot / 12 Rue de la Paix, a stylish milliner in Paris. This luxurious hat was worn by the donor’s grandmother, Sarah Jane Cochrane (Mrs. Stephen Sanford).
Gift of Gertrude Sanford Legendre in 1979

Mme. Virot was one of the most sought-after Paris milliners, working closely with the House of Worth. She is mentioned in Edith Wharton novels and her hats adorned a cover of Harpers Bazar Magazine and a Toulouse Lautrec poster. It was said that she was the first milliner who ever solved the problem of how to put 17 ostrich feathers on a single hat without making it look ridiculous or overloaded.

Straw hat with red, white and blue ribbon, 1940s. The brim, cocked over one eye, adds dramatic flair to this fedora style. It was worn by donor’s grandmother, Oriole Nohrden Gaffney of Charleston.
Gift of Neil Norhrden in 2006

Straw picture hat with chiffon scarf, 1950s. This Evelyn Varon exclusive sold at Condon’s for $10.95 and was worn by Regina Kawer Greene of Charleston. Born in Poland, Regina and her husband survived the Holocaust and came to Charleston in the late 1940s.
Gift of the Estate of Regina Greene in 1990

These hats are currently on exhibit in a small Easter display. Come visit!

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

October may be the time to think of good German beer, but in 19th century Charleston the annual Schutzenfest or shooting festival took place in the late spring. Revived after the Civil War, the German Rifle Club resumed their annual Schutzenfest in 1868. This dashing hat was worn at the Charleston Schutzenfest around 1880 by William Patrick Cantwell. Although he was Irish, Cantwell must have participated in the elaborate and fun-filled festival and research indicates that many ethnicities were welcomed. In addition to shooting competitions, there were also food and beer booths, a dance hall, bowling allies, a carousel for the kids and athletic demonstrations.

Charleston’s large German population also boasted a Turnverein, an athletic, social and political organization. They too held events to show off athletic and gymnastic skill. This late 19th century needlework and beaded belt, bearing the typical motto of the Turners – Gut Heil or Good Health, descended in the family of Johann Andreas Wagener of Charleston who actually founded the group in this city in 1846. They often set up a gymnasium tent at the Schutzenfest and performed for the visitors.

Needless to say, these festivals were not without a fair amount of beer drinking. The Charleston Daily Courier reported that at the 1868 Schutzenfest, around 5,000 people visited the grounds and they consumed over 50,000 glasses of beer!  Gut Heil!

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

Wide brimmed straw hat, c. 1910, worn by Mary Battey Nichols Wells, (1889-1968) wife of jewelry store owner, Edward Descombe Wells, Sr. of Savannah, GA. This enormous hat is lined with black silk and trimmed with a huge red and while silk bow. We have a photograph of Mrs. Wells wearing this stunning hat within this posting, please be sure to scroll through all photos.

Both hats and hairstyles for women reached extravagant proportions in the first years of the twentieth century. The hair was enhanced with wire supports or rats, padding and added hair and was swept up from the face to often towering heights. Add to this the large hat that almost floated above the wearer. These dimensions often caused problems at theaters and churches in addition to requiring extremely long and rather lethal hatpins.

HT 1000

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday