Art/ Collection/ Art Object

"Freedom Bonnet"

Sally Victor (American, 1905–1977)
straw, wool, silk
Credit Line:
Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Sally Victor, Inc., 1944
Accession Number:
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."

Designed the same year Paris was liberated during WWII, Victor's "Freedom Bonnet" is trimmed with purple French knots, a tribute to the French nation. The patriotic-tinged tricorne shape is also indicative of the American Revolution, a reference to America's fight for freedom, at home and abroad. During WWII, American fashion magazines encouraged women to use hats as patriotic expressions and to keep up the morale at home. The complex weave of the green and white straw and complimentary purple trim are distinctive of Victor's aesthetic which was attuned to producing the newest, most up-to-date styles, many times drawing from current events.
Marking: Label: "Sally Victor/18 East 53rd St."
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