Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I have loved being a third generation milliner - and love all the history that goes along with that....this should be a wonderful opportunity for me to invite you into my world. As fate would have it - I am just too sick to be creative or interesting so I will simply invite you to read the last two posts which were both tributes to the amazing generations before me.

The above photo is the cover of a Chicago Tribune Magazine - it featured a story on American artist Aaron Bohrod. Mrs. Bohrod was a great client of mom's and grandma's and their visits to the store inspired him ......... he gathered all these pieces...ribbons, flowers, straw - even the wooden block - from the hat shop to create this still life for his painting "The Bonnet".

And just for fun...does anyone know where the term "milliner" was born?

The first people to plait straw to make brims and bodies for head wear were the hat makers in Milan, Italy - so they were the "MILAN ers". The English speaking world mangled that into "milliners"


Sunday, June 7, 2009


Mary McGuire Byrne was born in 1913. She was raised by her maternal grandparents after her handsome father died from TB when she was three years old. Her widowed mother, Carolyn, had to find a way to make a living for herself at age 25.

Carolyn went on to open the hat business and mom started working for her after she graduated from the University of Wisconsin. The country was in the Great Depression. These two women and my uncle John were quite the trio about town.

Mom always lived in the shadow of her beautiful, eccentric mother.....and though an accomplished artist in her own right, it was always Carolyn Hats.

Mom worked with Grandma until they closed the shop. She also had her live with us after she married ....... and gran was there until the day she died - literally. She finished some dusting and announced she was going to take a nap......took a few steps and hit the dining room floor with a thud. We should all be so lucky.

Grandma was the character that everyone loved - but my mom was the rock. Mom made the family work and she was my best friend. I am the woman, designer, artist, mother that I am today because of MY mother.

This photo was taken in the '93 when the Los Angeles Times was doing a story on me. She was in CA visiting so we had her in the article, too. She was 80 and had just finished a bout with cancer and had barely made it through the chemo. I LOVE this photo of her - she just has that serene look on her face as if to say "There is nothing more you can do to me" She had survived !!
Mom died in January, 2005 and there is not a day that I don't think of her.... I am spending my day listening to Nat King Cole and The Mills Brothers and smiling...........knowing that somewhere she and dad are doing the Fox Trot.

Happy Birthday Mom, I love you.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Carolyn was born in Bath on Hudson, New York on April 19th - but we are not sure of the year. The family moved to Illinois as soon as she could travel - probably within the month. For some reason - I was the only person in my family who knew this. We believe she was born in 1889 or 1890.
Once I asked her how old she was and she said she didn't know because her records were burned in the Great Chicago Fire. Yes, the fire of 1871 - but I was a little girl - I didn't know and I believed her. Years later when someone asked her - she laughed and said she didn't know....and then added that once she told someone her records were burned in the Great Chicago Fire.....and she laughed REALLY hard. I was a college girl at that point - and I said "You Stink Pot - that was ME!!"
When I found this photo and showed it to her - she laughed (we laughed ALOT) and asked if I noticed how she had her pinkie finger stretched out on the parasol handle - she had a new ring and wanted to be sure everyone saw it.
And I'm sure she made the hat!
Thank you for giving me the gift of YOU

Friday, April 10, 2009


Whatever your choice for celebration

Mr. Wiggs and I send our best wishes

Saturday, March 21, 2009


The following article is a bit of a preview.......another relic unpacked. I will have to figure out all the formatting etc, etc, - but the fact that I successfully scanned this old magazine is HUGE. Well, it is for me anyway. My virgin scan - WOOHOO. So, enjoy the story on Grandma Carrie and I'll get back to the studio and back to work !


This was a story written about Carolyn when she retired in 1960 after 40 years in the millinery business........of course she opened another shop 5 or 6 years later - she couldn't help herself ! It was in her blood.

Yes, I was the small artist in the story - and I clearly remember some of those hats. I certainly remember those angels - symmetrically spaced (that's the designer) on either side of the Star , hovering over the manger, wearing glorious, matching white hats with feathers and long ribbons (that's the milliner) !

And those Pilgrims! Turkey feathers EVERYWHERE.

I had originally cropped these articles but decided it was an added treat to see the 1960 advertisements.

Bring back this bathing suit !

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Watch for the grand re-opening of Carolyn Hats

I am excited - hope you will be back!