Designer Sally Victor American

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."

Victor's menagerie of source material that inspired her designs included a wide range of cultures, artists and time periods. This particular design is inspired by Piet Mondrian's grid-based paintings he began to produce in 1919 in post-war Paris, and illustrates that Victor was in the vanguard of using Mondrian's work as an inspiration for apparel. It presages Yves Saint Laurent's iconic Mondrian collection of 1965 which featured bold cuts and even bolder colors and was widely praised by the fashion press. Even after almost thirty years in the millinery business, Victor was still producing modern designs for her customers, drawing from provocative sources while executing the design in a time-honored silhouette, the beret, in a unique stylized form.

"Mondrian", Sally Victor (American, 1905–1977), wool, silk, American

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