Great Balls of Fire! It's Scarlett's Hat

Although Gone With The Wind costume designer Walter Plunkett received screen credit for designing the film's hats, it is well established that New York based milliner John P. John, while partnering with Frederick Hirst as John Frederics, Inc, had been commissioned by David O. Selznick to design all of the hats for the movie.

Replica of green velvet hat made from draperies from Gone With The Wind
John P. John as John Frederics, Inc. 1940-45
Drapery Costume Hat Replica
©Metropolitan Museum
Gift of Mrs. R. A. Bernatschke
To compensate him for the loss of the publicity benefits a film credit would bring him, a deal was negotiated to allow Mr. John to make and sell commercial copies of the film's hats.

The most celebrated of the over twenty hats he was charged with making was the one Scarlett O'Hara made from her mother's portieres. Attempting to stay true to the 1940's elaborately ornamented hat designs, John kept the green velvet fabric and gold braid trim but removed the rooster's feather plume. The rooster's feet were gilt.

Milliner To The Stars

Receiving even less recognition or commercial reward though was a thirty two year old African American woman named Mildred Blount. While Blount did most of the actual millinery work on Gone With The Wind, the credit went to John Frederics, Inc.

Publicity Photo of Alicia Rhet as India Wilkes in Gone With The Wind wearing headpiece designed by Mildred Blount
Alicia Rhett as India Wilkes
Mildred Blount Milliner
1939 Gone With The Wind
Publicity Still
With unheard of moxie for an African American in the 1930's, Blount answered an ad for a learner at the famous John Frederics' Millinery and was put to work designing hats for their wealthy society mavens.

Although enjoying a successful career while at the design company, Blount opened her own shop in Beverly Hills, California in the 1940's,

Blount would become known as the "milliner to the stars" with her clientele including Mary Pickford, Joan Crawford, Ginger Rogers, and Rosalind Russell. She designed the hats for The Easter Parade and the bridal veil Gloria Vanderbilt wore for her 1941 wedding to Pasquale diCicco.

Attendant adjusting Goria Vanderbilt's shoe for 1941 wedding.
Mildred Blount Bridal Veil Design for
Gloria Vanderbilt's 1941 wedding
Mildred Blount used her notoriety to fight for inclusion within Hollywood film making circles. She refused to enter through an establishment's back door when working wedding venues or while on movie sets. She would become the first African American member of the Motion Pictures Costumers Union.

1 comment:

Lady Arabella victoria said...

Thanks for sharing this story. I have never heard of Ms. Blount. I appreciate you enlightening me regarding her contribution to the film industry.