Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Sally Victor, Inc., 1944
Not on view
During the 1930s, '40s and the early '50s, when hats were considered required accessories for well-dressed women, Sally Victor was among the foremost American milliners. Creative and very successful for almost 40 years, Victor began her prolific millinery career in 1927. She was one of the original members of the Edward C. Blum Design Laboratory, and often used the Brooklyn Museum's varied collections to draw inspiration for her designs. She was so connected with the Design Lab that she participated in several collaborative exhibitions and the museum often used her designs in publicity materials to exemplify how the Lab could benefit designers by providing inspiration. Her work is characterized by a special quirkiness that could often be traced back to interesting sources such as Native American tribes, the artist Henri Matisse or Japanese armor. She also combined traditional hat-making materials such as felt and silk with new synthetic materials in unique ways. According to her May 16, 1977 obituary in the "New York Times," Victor described her mission simply as "designing pretty hats that make women look prettier."
Inspired by a far-away culture, this unusual design of tubular straw braid wraps around the head like a tribal hairstyle. Victor often drew from cultures around the world for design inspiration, and was aided in that process by the staff of the Design Lab, who culled various inspirational pieces from the Brooklyn Museum's collections for one of its most devoted members. This example of that practice also incorporates unconventional materials, another common element in Victor's designs. The tubular straw braid that literally looks like hair was the perfect expression for a design inspired by a hairstyle.
Marking: Label: "Sally Victor/18 East 53rd St." Grosgrain label: "607"