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Feathers have been used in millinery, for centuries. Laws restricting the use of feathers from wild birds were passed in the early 1900s, but a trend for feathered hats peaked again in the 1950s. This time, mostly domestic and game birds were used.
Bes-Ben started designing hats with this sister, Bessie, in 1920. The hats were relatively traditional until 1941, after which Green-Field’s creativity and sense of humor began to surface in his designs. Constructed predominantly of feathers, this hat or “rooster” literally nests on the head when worn. Influenced by surrealism, Bes-Ben came to be known for unexpected juxtapositions.
(Doyle New York, sale: Couture and Accessories, December 10, 2003, lot 696) New York (c/o Jennifer McCloskey); purchased by the Indianapolis Museum of Art (2004).