It's no secret that hats of the 19th century were a flight of fancy; this 1894-1897 chapeau by Madame Virot literally takes flight with a decorative bird head and feathers incorporated into the design. We only wish we could have seen the ensemble that was worn with this show-stopping topper!
Hat, 1894 - 1897
French, Madame Virot
Museum Purchase: Funds provided by Barbara Bundy
This hat was featured in the FIDM Museum 2011 exhibition Fabulous! Ten Years of FIDM Museum Acquisitions, 2000 - 2010. An excerpt from the Fabulous! catalogue sheds light on Madame Virot and her relationship to the Paris haute couture:
"Dressing at the very highest levels of society meant donning many types of garments, all with their own unique accessories. For a woman of fashion, this meant a considerable investment of time, including biannual trips to Paris for selections and fittings. In the late nineteenth century, the House of Worth was often the first destination for gowns followed by a short promenade to the House of Virot for millinery; they were located next door to one another on the stylish Rue de la Paix. There was no higher form of fashion than to wear a Worth dress with a Virot hat. Indeed, these two maisons appeared together on dozens of Harper's Bazar covers by well-known illustrator Adolphe-Charles Sandoz (1845- c. 1925). For a coordinated ensemble, an extra length of material could be acquired from a couture house for making up into any form of custom headwear, perhaps including the absinthe green silk velvet on this Virot creation."
- From Fabulous! by Kevin Jones and Christina Johnson, FIDM Museum Press, Los Angeles, California, 2011
The whimsical appearance of another Madame Virot hat in our collection belies the complicated construction underneath the silk and sequins. This toque showcases the workmanship and glamour of Parisian millinery at the turn of the century.
French, Madame Virot
Museum Purchase; Funds Provided by Lois Rose Rose and Florine Sikking in honor of Donnie Smith
By the way, did you know FIDM Museum exhibition catalogues can be purchased online? They make fantastic gifts for the holidays - if you can't get a Madame Virot hat under the tree, our books are the next best thing!