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hat (bird)

Bes-Ben (American, 1898-1988)

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).

Object Information

Bes-Ben (American, 1898-1988)
creation date
feathers, glass beads, wool, silk, plastic
mark descriptions
Bes-Ben / Chicago
accession number
credit line
Mr. and Mrs. William B. Ansted Jr. Art Fund
© Bes-Ben
Textile and Fashion Arts

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