There has been a ton written on Lilly Dache. She was one of the dominant millinery designers of the 20th Century, so that is as it should be. We've had some pretty Dache hats over the years. A striking black and white spiral pattern straw was our very first sale when we opened Past Perfect Vintage online in 2005. We just got this hat in this fall, and it made me want to know a bit more. So last week, my small local library put out an inter-library loan search for me, and yesterday I picked up Dache's 1946 autobiography, Talking Through My Hats.
I read it in no time. It's short, and since she did not retire until 1968, and lived to 1989, it's not a comprehensive account of her work and life. It's largely an account of her childhood, her early years in NY at the Bonnet Shop and Macy's, and her marriage to Jean Despres. She did cover her early years on her own, up to building her own business at 78 E. 56th St., and her first trip back to France after the war. The emphasis on the famous heads she put hats on is a bit repetitive. Nonetheless, it's a fun read, and brings back the long era when a woman's hat was considered so very crucial to her style and even well being. Since hats are largely out of fashion, and certainly do not have the same place in a woman's life, at least in the way they did in those pre 1960s days, it's quite a window to the past. It does seem women focus and obsess over shoes and purses in much the same way today. Thats' all fine, but I miss hats.
This is the hat that got my interest piqued again in Dache:
Early 1950s Vintage Lilly Dache New Look Hat in
Currently available at Past Perfect Vintage