Saturday, 5 February 2011

Less Hat, More (H)Air

Another theme in the Healthy & Artistic Dress Union's journal, The Dress Review, around the time that the Blounts were on the General Committee (1903 onwards) is hats.
Walking Dress designed by Frau Emy Friling, from The Studio, Vol.28, 1903 and reproduced in The Dress Review, September 1903

In April 1903, The Dress Review reported “we hail with joy the new Hatless League, started by the Manchester Physical Health Culture Society, “Less Hat, more (H)Air,” ….for adornment what can be prettier than a wreath of leaves or flowers?  For warmth what is more effectual than a hood?  We must not pass the subject of hats without reference to articles on “the Cemetery Hat,” “Murderous Millinery,” and others.  The number of hats smothered with dead birds seen lately has made some of us shudder and wonder if it can be so long before the prophecy of a “birdless world” will be realized…..the sonnet by Canon Rawnlsey on “My Feathered Lady,” from Aglaia No.1 …

“But now wher’ere my lady goes,
No human heart can rest,
The very stones beneath her feet
Cry Murder!  Murder! down the street,”

Dress designed by Frau Emy Friling, from The Studio, Vol.28, 1903 and reproduced in The Dress Review, September 1903

In October 1905 The Dress Review reported that “As a matter of hygiene, as well as in the interests of real beauty, I should unreservedly condemn the bonnet.  It represents no principle of use, being perched on precisely the part of the head where pressure is injurious (viz., the crown), and completely avoiding and leaving exposed the very parts where protection from the cold is most needed.  In place thereof I would advocate a return to the old fashioned hood for winter out-door wear.  A simple capuchon shape, such as is now commonly worn by ladies over evening dress, recommends itself naturally; and it is difficult to see why that which is considered suitable in the evening should not also be good in the day time”


In the same issue there is an extract from the Daily News ‘What kind of Hat?’, by G.K. Chesterton.   In the 1925 9th Annual Report of the Peasant Arts Guild, G.K. Chesterton is listed as a patron.  In the extract printed in the 1905 journal Chesterton goes through the history of the hat, “The dandies and tailors of the Regency had a sort of inspired genius for ugliness, an aggressive ugliness, a creative ugliness, and ugliness defiant and almost divine.  You can see it in the Pavilion at Brighton. ….Every sane human being would naturally have a hat that gets smaller towards the top, they gave us, therefore a hat that gets larges towards the top.  This top-heavy and incredible structure they did actually erect upon their heads.  But now can anyone give me the explanation of a great mystery?  This huge and heavy cylinder of a hat was a fobbery: it was high in a fashion; it might always be called a joke.  In its natural right to have lasted about a month.  Why has it lasted a hundred years?”
from The Dress Review, January 1905: "designed by Forma of Bond Street".  This is electric blue liberty serge with a vest of liberty silk in a lighter shade

In April 1906 The Dress Review comments that “talk of cruelty of wearing dead birds and osprey feathers in millinery (we had hoped that this disgusting fashion had died out, but there seems to be a fresh revival just now)”

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