Lilly Daché – Queen of Snoods and Hats of Yesteryear

Lilly Dache' ad for snoods - 1940s

Do you own a snood? Have you ever worn one?

I had never heard of a snood until one of my girlfriends was getting married and she told me she wanted to wear one with her bridal gown.

My first thought: What the heck is that? Second thought: Why would you want to wear something that sounds so awful?

A snood is a knotted or crocheted net worn on the back of the head to hold the hair in place. They’ve been around for ages, having originated in the Middle Ages. They became popular in the U.S. thanks to World War II as factory workers wore them to keep their hair out of their faces.They became fashionable thanks to hat designer Lilly Daché. Her hairnets were featured on the cover of Vogue magazine in 1942.

Lilly Dache' trying on one of her creations

Lilly Daché, a fashion icon of a by-gone era, was a FuchsiaWoman before such a thing was invented. Born in France in the early 1900s, she immigrated to New York City as a young woman with only $13 in her pocket. She opened up her first hat shop that same year and the rest, as they say, is history. At the height of her business she employed 150 milliners and had exclusive shops in New York, Chicago, Miami,Rome,  and Paris. Besides her snazzy snoods, Lilly designed hats to glamorize American women.

“Glamour is what makes a man ask for your telephone number,” she is quoted as saying.

Daché hats were a luxury item and became a status symbol. Her popularity with Hollywood actresses at that time made her the most famous milliner in America. Lilly’s hats were worn by Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford, Carole Lombard, and Greta Garbo. Ginger Rogers wore one to her wedding. Today vintage Daché hats are coveted among hat collectors.

Known to be flamboyant and eccentric, Lilly was said to conduct business from bed (as she was not an early riser) or from a bubble bath. She also credited as the hat designer who stuck the fruit and birds in Carmen Miranda’s outrageous turban hats. That’s some legacy!

In 1956 Lilly wrote a book called Lilly Daché’s Glamour Book. I read a review from the Time Magazine archives (March 1956). It’s a hoot. She says:

“We have in America today what is truly a golden age for women, and only a woman who is a mule will refuse to make the most of it… If you want to keep up with this modern, wonderful world, you must be young in thought, feeling and appearance.”

Lilly talks frankly about women’s physical flaws such as dull gray stringy hair, splotchy sallow skin, a droopy bosom, a secretarial slump, a dowager’s hump, bulging and bloodshot eyes, a ghastly sag in the abdomen, a roll around the midriff, bulges in the wrong place, chapped hands, etc. OK Lilly, we get the picture!

Unfortunately for Lilly, she didn’t live to see the progress women have made in regards to trying to achieve physical perfection—which is a recipe for disaster. Perfect health: yes. Perfect body: no. Cool hats and shoes: Of course.

I agree with Lilly when she says:

“You can change your appearance in ten seconds by correcting your posture and by polishing up your expression.”

(Kinda reminds me of my Mom’s constant command: “Stand up straight!”)

FuchsiaWoman is fond of saying:

“A smile is your best fashion accessory.”

But a Lilly Daché hat is great pick-me-up, too.

As for my girlfriend who wore the snood to her wedding, she looked radiant—snood or no snood.

Modern Snood

Modern Snood

WW II Snood

5 Comments

  • snoods said:

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    Regardless I am here now and would just like to say many thanks for a remarkable post and a all round enjoyable blog.Please do keep up the excellent work.

    Thursday, April 5, 2012
  • Sarah said:

    Hi

    I am getting married in August and wondered where your friend got her snood from? I’ve been searching for one for ages and they are proving very difficult to find, unless you want a heavy crochet one. I was looking for one just like the modern snood photo above and in ivory.

    I hope you can help!

    Sarah

    Thursday, April 19, 2012
  • Hi Sarah,
    My girlfriend got married many years ago. Her snood was a family heirloom passed down from relatives. I looked around the internet. There are only a few “real” ones out there on EBay and Etsy — and they were not in good shape. They are rather fragile in the way they’re made.
    Your best bet is to look for one at thrift stores/vintage shops — or at estate sales — or post a “wanted” ad on Craig’s List — or call the fashion editor of your local paper (if there is one) — or bug your friends to bug their grandmas and their old lady friends to see if anyone still has one tucked away in a chest in the attic.
    Good luck and Happy Wedding Day!

    Sunday, May 6, 2012
  • Marie Laure Chazal said:

    I am a French cousin of the person who is painting at the back of the photo from Lilly Daché glamour book published by Life
    M’y cousin’s name was Hortense Martin
    As she has been working for Lilly Daché for years , I would like if it’s possible to find any of her designs or paintings
    Thank you for your help

    Sunday, January 27, 2013
  • Anne said:

    Would you care to sell Lily’s Glamour book? They are hard to find and I would love to read it.

    Friday, September 20, 2013

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