Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Upstairs at my Grandmother Tiffany’s house was a wonderful place to explore. There was one room all the grandchildren especially loved -- which we called “The Queens Room.” It was painted pale pink and had art deco furniture with closets and chests full of clothes that my grandmother no longer wore – dresses, gowns, fur coats and on the closet shelves -- Lilly Dache hat boxes protecting the most incredible and stylish hats.

My grandmother used to say: “Well years ago, you bought your new hat before you bought your new dress.”

By the late 1920s, Lilly Dache was already a huge success. In fact, there was a Lilly Dache building on 56th Street!

In the 1930's during the depression, women tended to buy new hats instead of new clothes. In the 1940's clothing fabric was in restricted supply because of World War II, and hats continued to be in big demand because they were showy.

Lilly Dache saw that millinery might not continue in fashion forever, so she kept it her hats updated -- snoods with flowers, veils and bows as alternatives. In 1943, Norman Norell and Lilly Dache won the first Coty Awards – with Dache winning for millinery.

At the end of the 1950's Lilly Dache hired the young Halston Frowick. She also hired Kenneth Battelle to take charge of her hair salon. By the 1960's elaborate coiffures by Kenneth, as he was known, swept hats off the fashion map. All three – Lilly Dache, Halston and Kenneth were clients of Eleanor Lambert.

Miss Dache did not mourn the end of the millinery era. After her retirement, she rarely wore a hat; she preferred wigs.

I once told Miss Lambert about my grandmother's collection of Lilly Dache hats and she laughed and replied "Every stylish woman loved Lilly Dache... she also made the best turbans, she would make them right on your head."

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