Thursday, August 20, 2015

Madcap Millinery

Elsa Schiaparelli wearing her "mad cap" design.
Photo courtesy

In 1930, Elsa Schiaparelli designed a head-hugging "mad cap" which was wildly popular well into the late 1930's. It was a simple knitted cap with distinctive pointed ends that could easily be pulled into any shape. The style was copied in all types of fabric and was extremely versatile. It could be dressed up by adding rhinestone pins or buttons, yet it was the perfect complement to daytime suits and dresses.

Katherine Hepburn in a "mad cap". Photo by Ernest Bachrach.

The "mad cap" was so easy and economical to make that instructions were included in the Home Arts - Needlecraft Magazine in 1936. "Cut a piece of fabric 10 inches by 22 inches (or whatever your head measurement is) plus a 1 1/2 inch seam allowance. Fold in half crosswise. Sew up one side and one end [creating a pocket]. Finish the open end with a strip of grosgrain ribbon. Turn this under and hemstitch in place. Place on the head, having the seam run front to back, or side to side. Pleat, drape, or twist whatever way most becoming. Pin and stitch in place."

The "mad cap" worn with the seam running side to side.
Photo courtesy Dorothea's Closet Vintage

"Mad Cap" Diagram courtesy

Singer/actress Violet Waters shows four ways to wear a "mad cap" as interpreted by The Couture Touch. A "pocket" of bias-cut, vintage silk is fashioned into pure sophistication with a touch of whimsy.

Sunset Serenade Violet Waters (newly coiffed) is from Integrity. She is wearing an Ashton Drake recreation of a Marsha Hunt costume worn in the 1936 film Easy To Take from the 2004 Annual Gene Marshall Convention in Hollywood.

Collectible Fashions of the Turbulent 1930's by Ellie Laubner.

The Art Deco Society of California

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