Vintage Fur Hats
Beginnings, Fur Era, Changes
Vintage Hats Always In Style with Collectors, Now Back in Vogue for 2008
The history of fur can be traced as far back as the 15th century. In fact the European and Asian trade in pelts and fur stretched back centuries if not millennium. Depending on the supply of animals, Russia, Central Asia and Scandinavia were major suppliers of this trade through the 15th century. In the and tenth centuries, Scandinavian and Viking traders traded to Northern and central Europe a variety of furs including: marten, reindeer, bear, otter, sable, ermine, black and white fox and beaver. The black fox toque above is made by the famous designer, Elsa Schiaparelli
Much change has taken place from the 1900's fur was considered elegant and worn by the well-heeled woman of their day. Prior to the fifties, when issues of conversation were first raised, fashion furs of all description were widely available for coats, stoles, collars and hats. They were views as a status symbol and proudly worn by the ladies. They wore monkey, muskrat,badger,fox, Persian lamb, raccoon and mink not only trimming coats, but collars and cuffs and hats. The ladies felt like a million dollars when they stepped out wearing their favorite fur garment. My mother had a full length beaver coat in the 50's that she worn in Toronto weather. When she moved to California, she gave the coat to her friend that was moving to Alaska. She really prized the coat and I have pictures of her in that coat with a matching hat. The raccoon hat above is always in style and goes with most everything.
The ladies that had matching hats with their fur coats were the coveted. The hats matched their coats, stoles and wraps. The fur accessories were muffs, hats, and matching scarves. Designers turned skins and their remnants into a variety of hats, pillboxes and whimsies in the fifties, then fedoras and helmet styles in the sixties. The turned up brimmed white fox and fox wrap above is an example of matching hats and stoles.
Of the non-endangered furs, mink and sable have always been the most expensive, while easy to trap and abundant rabbit, raccoon, squirrel and skunk were less costly. Mink due to its size was labor intensive and there always more money. Above is a pretty pink velour floppy trimmed with a mink hatband.
You would see the mink furs on screen stars when you went to the movies and it was very "in". The species, considered to be one of the warmest furs for its weight, so favored that furriers often utilized entire pelts, leaving the heads, feet, tails and even claws intact. Sometimes you would see the mink hats with their satin bows on a bandeau of mink tails made elegant cocktail hats in the 50's and the full mink hats made beautiful pillboxes, beret and toque displays. If you owned one of these beauties you feel very fortunate indeed. The above white rabbit pillbox hat is attractive and inexpensive.
The Good, Bad and the Ugly
Eventually fur fashion excesses reached a saturation point. Many furs have disappeared from the market due to these strict conservation laws and other are gone. The above squirrel fur beret is classy and looks great with fur collared coats.
A new generation is valuing fur for its warmth and beauty. While furs are back in the form of hats, gloves, scarves, and wraps, we can be certain that many of the exotic species found in fashion throughout the twentieth century will neve appear in shops again.
Fur hats Fall into Several Distinct Categories
Natural Fur, the real thing! - These included rabbit, lynx, beaver, lamb, squirrel, monkey, jaguar, ocelot, mink, chinchilla and other ranches and trapped animals. They closely resemble the animal from which they are made.
Extreme Furs with Brilliant Fake Colors - Dyes are used by the fashion industry to color fur in vibrant colors, turning seal, rabbit, fox and mink into luxurious fashion accents that bear minimal resemblance to their original form
Treated Furs Made to look like Expensive Furs - Often common, inexpensive pelts are dyed to look like exotic species. The authentic pelts of various species are bleached, dyed, sheared, or in some way altered from their natural state and they are called treated fur.
Synthetic Fur or Faux Fur - Very popular, manufactured fur has been available since the 60's and can appear to be the real thing or spring from the designer's imagination as fur, imitation mink, Persian lamb, beaver, mouton and seal will give themselves away by their cotton like backing. Some are very real looking
Fur is now a fashion item, purchased to express the wearer's individuality and creativity and to fulfill their desires. To those living in particularly cold climates, it is also an essential part of their wardrobe, used to protect them from the elements. Fur is just as valuable now as it has been for most of human history. Designers can dye fur any color to match the outfits they create.
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