Inside the hat is a loose grosgrain ribbon that served as a fitting device, adjusting the depth of the crown by passing over the top of the wearer's head inside the hat and then being stitched or glued to the headsize band on the opposite side. The fitting ribbon could also be pinned to the hair.
The John-Frederics label was formed by the incomparable milliner "Mr. John" and his partner Frederick Hirst in 1929. Their partnership was dissolved in 1948 with Hirst retaining the label.
This hat likely dates to the early to mid-1940s, when Mr. John was still with the label. Its sections are hand-stitched together, and the very finely woven grosgrain ribbon looks like rayon. The "Made in America" tag dates the hat to after 1939, when wool was required to be so labeled.
Close-ups of the labels and lots more photos from different angles are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/13593021@N00/sets/72157629857110499/
Mr. John created the millinery for Vivien Leigh in "Gone With The Wind," and the twisted cord tassel on her famous "drapery" hat reminds me of the one on this cloche. In the 1940s and '50s he was as admired for his hats as Christian Dior was for fashion. It was said that "At a time when other milliners were piling on flowers, feathers and tulle, Mr. John was stripping hats naked, relying on pure shape for effect," and that certainly applies to this zigzag cloche.
The material is a very lightly brushed wool felt, with a short-napped fuzzy velour feel on the outside. There are a few small holes on the crown. (See the Flickr link above for close-ups of the holes.)
I have owned this hat for probably 30 years now and just love its sleek art moderne lines, but need to downsize my collection. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I have!
21" circumference at interior headband ribbon (53.34 cm)
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