Photo of the Day

photos and stories from the Powerhouse Museum

Christmas eve

December 24th, 2009 by


Merry Christmas 1952

This dazzling Christmas hat (worn by model Elaine Johannsen) is one of the thousands created by a brilliant milliner and businessmen from New York known as Mr John (a.k.a. John P. John). We know that this particular photograph was taken in (or before) 1952 as it is accompanied by a typed caption “Merry Christmas 1952”.

Mr John was probably the greatest milliner of his time, famous for his beautiful hats and an extravagant lifestyle. He created hats for stars in movie classics such as Gone With the Wind by Victor Fleming, Shanghai Express by Josef von Sternberg, Death in Venice by Luchino Visconti, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Howard Hawks, also theatre productions, advertisements, magazines and a long list of the rich and famous. During his over fifty year long career, Mr John was widely admired and honoured with the highest prizes – he was the first milliner to receive the prestigious Neiman-Marcus Award. The obituary published on June 29th 1993 by The New York Times described him “as famous in the world of hats as Christian Dior was in the realm of haute couture”. Strangely enough, whilst the Dior’s name became a household word, Mr John, known once an “Emperor of Fashion”, disappeared into obscurity.

Powerhouse Museum has in its collection approximately 200 prints featuring models wearing hats made by Mr John. We are systematically scanning the prints so stay tuned for more great creations by this millinery virtuoso.

Drake Stutesman, Gives Good Face: Mr. John and the Power of Hats in Film. Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media
Gail Stain, Mr. John, “Emperor of Fashion”. Dress: The Journal of The Costume Society of America, vol. 27, 2000.

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Post by Iwona Hetherington, Rights and Permissions Officer