It’s been yet another week of hats, so let’s talk vocabulary and then conservation:
Seam allowance: The area between the edge of a piece of fabric and the seam or line of stitching that attaches it to at least one more layer of fabric or material. Ultimately this extra fabric allows for a garment to be let out, if need be.
Millinery: Essentially, hat-making – often specifically for a female clientele base. We’re not talking beanies and baseball caps, though. To get a more (stereo)typical idea of millinery, think of the hats that are associated with women at horse races. Or, you know, even the things that Lady Gaga wears on her head from time to time.
Grosgrain: A kind of ribbon characterized by its relative stiffness and ribbed texture/pattern, which is often used in millinery.
(Bear with me, and eventually we’ll get to how this ties into conservation.)
If I hadn’t mentioned before, the FHCC is a specialized space. We use dimmable lights, maintain a generally chilly temperature, handle items with gloves, etc. Not only that, but our “closet space” actually runs on a track so that each aisle can be open and shut by turning a wheel – successfully eliminating more light from getting to garments that we aren’t looking at or using. We use archival-quality tissue and non-acidic tags with brass safety pins, we use pencil rather than ink…ultimately, we do the absolute best we can with our resources to make sure that the things we are given are stored in a healthy way.
And while sticking a pin into a garment may seem rather unhealthy, we’re taught to put them into the “safest” places. For example, many garments have a seam allowance that provides a great spot to put a pin for a tag, as it doesn’t interfere with any visible part of the item/won’t cause harm. Think about the inside of a pant leg or sleeve. In the case of hats, however, it’s not that simple. This is where the grosgrain comes in. Luckily for us, grosgrain ribbon is a popular material for the inside bands of hats, and provides a perfect material to pin into. It’s an intern’s dream, really.
But I’m not always so lucky. Sometimes I can’t find a good place to put a pin, and in that case I will either reach out to someone else for advice, or I will simply put the tag in the most accessible place and forgo a pin. With hats, this can often end up being the case. If not pinned, a tag will be placed in the hat between the shape-holding puffs of tissue and the hat itself. I often find myself pining for just a little grosgrain or something…
Anyhow, I’ve gotten to look at quite a variety of hats in the past 3 days, with the oldest being around 200 years old! (Look for a light brown straw bonnet with a dark brown ribbon.) Here are my favorites/most noted:
On another note, it is so sad to hear of Oscar de la Renta’s death. The fashion world has lost one of its superstars and its “Sultan of Suave”. His legacy will live on through his beautiful designs. Our Collections Manager pulled this piece for the Facebook page and I thought I’d share it, too. This gorgeous silk jacket is from his Fall Ready-to-Wear collection in 1989.