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This photograph of a model wearing a silk hat decorated with silk flowers called Secret Garden, was one of a set of promotional prints and the front cover of a booklet for Mr John of New York’s American Empire Spring and Summer 1959 collection.
Mr John’s designs were often informed by his knowledge of art and history and this image, like many of the others from his studio, includes an illustration of a woman wearing an Empire-line gown.
John P. John, (1906-1993) was born John Pico Harberger in Munich and emigrated to the USA in 1919. He later studied medicine at University of Lucerne, and art at the Sorbonne and l’École des Beaux Arts in Paris. After being apprenticed to his mother, dressmaker Madame Laurel, he formed a partnership with Frederick Hirst, John-Frederics, in 1929. He started his own millinery company, Mr. John, Inc., in New York in 1948.
According to the New York Times, in the 1940′s and 1950′s, the name Mr. John was as famous in the world of hats as Christian Dior was in the realm of haute couture. His designs attracted attention from Hollywood and he worked with costume designers including Gilbert Adrian, Walter Plunkett, and Cecil Beaton. He designed Greta Garbo’s hat in Mata Hari, Marlena Dietrich’s cloche in Shanghai Express, Marilyn Monroe’s headdress in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and the headwear for Vivien Leigh as Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. His clients outside of the film world included Eleanor Roosevelt, Gypsy Rose Lee, Jaqueline Onassis and Wallace Simpson. Mr John received the Coty American Fashion Critics award in 1943, the Neiman Marcus award in 1950 and the Millinery Institute of America award, 1956.
The prints from the Mr John studio were acquired with the archive of Madame Louise Lamoureux, who ran a Sydney fashion house specialising in embroidery and hand beading, including samples of overseas materials and styles. Some objects from the archive of Louise Lamoureux can be viewed on the Powerhouse Museum online collection index.
Post by Kathy Hackett, Photo Librarian
Powerhouse Museum Collection: A9467-11/19/4
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