75th Anniversary


Women’s Hats — or Are They?

June 6th, 2011

A fight over fashion in a Catholic Digest classic

Photo from Photos.com


After the recent British royal wedding, with all the beautiful, odd, and sometimes even bizarre millinery on display, how could we not run this 1946 classic article on women’s hats?


Older readers will remember Lilly Daché. In 1946 — a time when all self-respecting women and men wore hats, and baseball caps were worn mostly by ball players — Lilly Daché was probably the most famous milliner in the Western world, known for designing Carmen Miranda’s fruit-filled turban and dressing the heads of many of Hollywood’s leading ladies, including Marlene Dietrich, Carole Lombard, Loretta Young, Joan Crawford, and Gertrude Lawrence. Her husband, Jean Despres, who serves as a model of husbandly diplomacy in this story, was an executive vice-president of the cosmetics and fragrance company Coty.


The antagonist in this story was equally famous. In his syndicated newspaper column “As Pegler Sees It,” Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Westbrook Pegler was well known for spouting harsh criticisms of President Roosevelt, the New Deal, labor unions, the wealthy, the Supreme Court — it was a long list. But when he turned to attacking women’s hats, Lilly Daché thought he had gone too far.


So here, from November 1946 (Catholic Digest’s 10th anniversary issue), is Lilly Daché’s “Women’s Hats — Or Are They?”


Dan Connors



Click here to download a PDF of this classic article