Mad for Hats!

On view February 2 to September 25, 2011

Early Pasadena resident, c. 1890 (Black History Collection, call # BH-L24-23)

Early Pasadena resident, c. 1890 (Black History Collection, BH-L24-23)

Through the ages, men, women, and children have adorned their heads for a variety of reasons. At times, hats were purely utilitarian providing protection from the elements. Over the years, hats evolved beyond their functional purpose to become an essential accessory that indicated the wearer’s economic standing, social status, or fashion savvy.

The popularity, size, and shape of hats have changed measurably over time. In past decades, a respectable lady or gentleman would not have ventured outdoors without one. The design of women’s hats has been influenced by hairstyles, haute couture, new materials, and even the popular use of the parasol. The impact of men’s hat designs – such as the top hat and the fedora – has also been remarkable.

The exhibition Mad for Hats! explored women’s hats as social and fashion phenomena. More than 100 hats and related photographs, selected from the Museum’s collections, showcased the various materials, styles, and shapes of ladies’ hats from the 1860s to the 1960s.

About the Curators: 

Elizabeth A. Smalley, M.D. – Dr. Smalley is a physician and partner at Health Care Partners in Duarte.  She also serves on the Museum’s Board of Trustees and is chair of the Museum’s Collections Committee.

Suzanne Ehrmann – Ms. Ehrmann is the owner of Designs by Suzzanne jewelry.  She also volunteers for the Collections department at the Museum, where she works with the Costumes & Textiles Collection.

Janet Kadin – Mrs. Kadin is a retired educator and long-time volunteer with the Museum, where she serves as Volunteer Council President and as a member of Collections Committee.

About the Millinery Historian-in-Residence:

Barbara Troeller trained in professional millinery at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. She is a collector of vintage hats and textiles and has amassed a personal research library of over 500 vintage and rare out-of-print books on fashion, etiquette, historical costuming and millinery.