When watching an old Hollywood film, one of the benefits is (for myself at least) is seeing the magnificent costumes adorned on these super sirens. One art form in particular that I feel has been lost for many years (though making a long due comeback) is the art of the hat. One milliner was responsible for many of the most stunning pieces on the big screen. Her name was Lily Dache.
Born on 10th October 1898 in Begles, France (near Bordeaux). Aged 15, Dache began her Milliner career as an apprentice for the likes of Caroline Reboux, Georgette and Agnes in Paris. After 6 years, Dache landed in the US (though she did later claimed to have arrived in 1924 in an effort to gloss over her earlier struggles). Later that year, Dache managed to find a job in a bonnet shop in New York, she eventually bought the shop outright. Her big breakthrough came when she designed a red turban with cherries for a Ziegfield Follie dancer. Following the successful coverage by Vogue magazine, Eleanor Roosevelt wore one of Dache’s hats at her husband’s first inauguration.
After 1931 Dache married Jean Despres, who ran Coty’s American perfume operations.
Not just creating exquisite hats for Hollywood, Dache’s contribution to hats in popular fashion included turbans, half hats and snoods. Treating the hat as the centrepiece of any ensemble, Dache extended her range to include lingerie, loungewear, gloves and hosiery.
Her client list included the creme of Hollywood stars including Marlene Dietrich, Carole Lombard and Loretta Young (who subsequently bought Dache’s last 30 hats when she retired from hat making). Dache released her memoir ‘Talking Through My Hats’ in 1946. By 1968 Dache had retired for designing, handing control to her daughter, Suzanne Dache.
Died on 31 December 1989 aged 91. Thanks to Dache, we have a greater appreciation of the beauty of hats, the different styles and elevating them on an art form. Vintage hunters covet her creations, all these many years later. I would say that she achieved a tremendous legacy to be proud of.