Vintage 1960s Silk Beret Hat - Newspaper Print by Graham Smith - Rare
Brand Poppy's Vintage Clothing
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This is a rare and fabulous hat, made by important British milliner Graham Smith, early in his career, when he was working at Michael, a British fashion designer that was located at 2, Carlos Place in London.
The hat is made in a toque style, or a stylized beret. It has a loose puff form that is gathered at the back with a bow. It is made of silk that is printed like a newspaper. It has no size label, but it should fit a small to medium sized head.
This hat would date anywhere between 1960 and 1967, but I believe that it dates to 1962-1963, based on some assumptions that I outline below. It was made in England for sale at Ogilvy’s of Montreal, which was a luxury goods department store, no longer in business. The newspaper print was taken from The Sunday Times Weekly Review page and features a main article on Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s activity at the time. It mentions the “Denise”, which was the SP-350, invented by Cousteau in 1959 as a two-man diving saucer. The article also mentions that they are about to embark on Phase II of an operation that I believe was the Continental Shelf Station, a project that was started in 1962 as an attempt to establish an underwater colony. Phase II happened in 1963, so this article would date to either 1962 or 1963 - how old the article was when the hat was made is difficult to know for sure, but it is probably a good bet that it was a more contemporaneous print as it wouldn’t make sense to take a two or three year old article when it would be as easy to use a recent one.
A bit more information about the milliner - Smith (b.1938, Kent, England) started his career working at Lanvin with Antonio Castillo in 1958, returning to London to become the in-house milliner at Michael of Carlos Place from 1960 until 1967, He then went on to establish his own label in 1967, eventually becoming the design director for Kangol, where he oversaw groundbreaking designs - a military style hat worn by Princess Diana and bucket hats worn by hip-hop artists such as Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys. His clientele included British Royalty and celebrities such Elizabeth Taylor, Barbra Streisand and Joan Collins. Michael of Carlos Place was Michael Donnellan, also considered an important figure in British fashion design, considered to be the “Balenciaga” of London.
Examples of Graham Smith’s designs are in the collection of the Victorian & Albert museum, but I can’t find any early examples like this, especially anything as innovative and wonderful - this is truly a museum piece!