Let’s talk hats! It’s spring and we all know what that means. It’s time to bring out the easter bonnets and hats decorated in flowers galore! In the early to mid 1900’s, a hat was part of a woman’s everyday outfit. Not only was it necessary, but one designer, Sally Victor, believed that the right hat could make any woman prettier.
Born on February 23, 1905 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Sally Victor grew a love for design at the young age of eight. After her family moved to New York, her aunt, who happened to be a milliner, taught her the ins and outs to fixing and revitalizing hats. However, she began creating her own designs for herself and friends as well.
“Like most kids, I liked to copy the grown-ups, so it only seemed natural for me to start fashioning scraps of felt and ribbons into hats for my dolls. When I got a little older, my aunt taught to retrim and shape hats for her customers and on the side, I started dreaming up hats for myself and my friends too.”
-Sally Victor, 1949 Interview
Sally Victor began a successful career beginning at the age of 18. As a member of Macy’s millinery department, she was able to move up to assistant millinery buyer within three years. She gained more experience by working at Bamberger’s Department store in Newark.
After marrying Sergiu F. Victor, a wholesale milliner himself, in 1927, she started her own label in 1934 in New York where her hats would become popular in stores like Fifth Avenue. Victor became one of the most well-known milliners of her time, being known for her unique style and craftsmanship.
Victor was able to fuse both the vision of the buyer and seller in order to create a hat that anyone would love. Her number one motto was, “designing pretty hats that make women look prettier.” She once mentioned that she didn’t believe in fashion that didn’t make someone prettier. However, this view did receive some backlash after she was accused of “designing too pretty, too feminine, too matronly hats.” – Eugenia Sheppard, New York Herald Tribune (March 25, 1964)
Victor gained her inspiration from a number of unique sources. They included Japanese armor, Chinese Lanterns, Native American Art, and works of various designers, one being Frank Lloyd Wright, an American Architect and interior designer. She sold for the mass market by offering baby bonnets, Pompadour hats, honey hives, Tudor tops, and Grecian Pillboxes just to name a few.
Among her achievements were winning the Fashion Critics millinery Award in 1943, the Coty American Fashion Critics Award in 1944 and 1956, creating ready-to-wear hats as well as collapsible hats for easy travel, and rejuvenating the Ecuadorian economy with her revitalization of the Panama straw hat. And although she created hats for everyday wear and women, she also designed for First ladies Mamie Eisenhower and Jacqueline Kennedy, and American actress and consumer advocate, Betty Furness.
Betty Furness’ career began with a staring role in Alice In Wonderland. In 1932, after various commercial advertisments and professional modeling, she was signed to a film contract with RKO Studios. She stared with well known names like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers giving her a career was successful that declined in the 1940s, however. So, she began her journey of commercial advertising once again. Furness worked for Westinghouse Products and was a natural in filming live broadcast commercials. Her independent nature, modest clothing, sense of style, and personality made for a perfect combination. She also became a regular in the ever-famous television series, What’s My Line?, where she was a frequent panelist. In 1953, Furness even started her own show Meet Betty Furness. In 1960, her advertisement career ended after the producer of Westinghouse Products decided he wanted a younger spokeswoman. Unable to be taken seriously because of her past commercial advertising reputation, she turned to radio along with promotion of the Democratic Party.
Druesedow, Jean. Accessed on 3/27/19.Retrived from http://www.fashionencyclopedia.com/To-Vi/Victor-Sally.html