November 29, 2015

Hat Histories: Mr John

circa 1960: 'King of the Hatters', Mr John in his salon full of objet d'art on New York's Fifty-seventh street. Trying on a hat is the editor of the magazine, 'Vogue', Denise Lawson-Johnston. A Wonderful Time - Slim Aarons 
It's time again for another hat histories post! Today we will admire the hats of famous mid-century milliner Mr John!

Born John Pico Harberger in Munich, Germany, the future milliner originally studied medicine at the University of Lucerne, and art at the Sorbonne. After immigrating to the United States in 1919, John worked as his mother's (a Madame Laurel) apprentice as a dressmaker. He soon formed a millinery partnership with Frederick Hirst, known as John-Frederics. After leaving this earlier partnership, he started his own millinery company, Mr. John, Inc., in New York in 1948. I have included hats from Mr John's earlier collaboration with Frederics in this post too as they are extremely lovely!

Mr. John’s most famous work remains his millinery for Vivien Leigh in the film Gone With The Wind. He designed hats for many huge stars such as Mary Pickford, Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Rosalind Russell, Marilyn Monroe, Hedy Lamarr, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and the Duchess of Windsor. With such glamorous clientele, Mr John was the Dior of hats a the time. Though his earlier work seemed to embrace whimsy, his later hats in the 1960's experimented with pure shapes and forms. Being popular and prolific as the company was in the 20th century means that today there are many Mr John designs both in museums and for sale to vintage collectors. Lets take a gander shall we?

1934, MET (oh holy swoon yes, please, hand it over!)
1940's, MET
1939-40, MET (perfect, I'll take on in black too please)
1935-45, MET (very Gone With the Wind no?)

1939-40, MET
1945, MET (perfect for cocktail hour!)
1948, MET
1955, MET
1952, MET
1950, MET (elegant simplicity)
mid 1950s, MET
1945-1955, Ryerson University

1949, LACMA
Raleigh Vintage  (I loved the pinked edges here!)
The Best Vintage Clothing
Palette London
Anothertme Vintage (you all know how I love a hat with berries!)
Etsy, here
Etsy, here
Etsy, here
 Working on this post series always has me itching to create new hats myself, I need to line up some new millinery projects! I'm glad to say there are many milliners still to cover in the future, until then, keep on hatting!


  1. Yay!!! When you began this marvelous series there were a few names in particular I thought of instantly as perfect candidates for it and Mr. John was one of them. His hats are so intricate, elegant and wearable - not to mention, often busting with colour, something I madly adore in hats (and fashion in general). Thank you for another stellar hat history post. J'adore!

    Big hugs,
    ♥ Jessica

  2. I ran across a couple Mr. John hats in my old Etsy shop days, but they were his later ones from the late 60s or 70s, not NEARLY as cool as these early ones! The 70s one was a giant black cross between a fedora and a cowboy hat with a leather band around the crown and a bedazzled pheasant feather. Not exactly my cup of tea... So seeing the older ones here restores my faith in Mr. John, haha!

    1. I definitely prefer the earlier designs as well, but I just love 30's and 40's hats in general! :)

  3. These are so lovely, I like so many of them. That green one with the veil and the red curved one are gorgeous!

    1. I too really adore that green hat, the little pinked curls of felt on the back seem like they would be easily replicated...I am about to go on a hat making spree!

    2. Looking forward to seeing what you make!


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