#WHITNEYMANNEY

 


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#MyHistory: Mildred Blount

I've been thinking about headgear and masks lately in my work...I feel like the crown hats were the best thing that could have happened to me. Hats can hide a bad hair day or add a bit of spunk to a look. Millenry is truly a work of art with an intricate process. During my research process,  I learned about Mildred Blount. 

Jet, Sept. 10 1953

Blount began designing and creating headwear during her adolescent years and worked her way into millerny shops in NYC. From there, she responded to an ad to work for John Frederics, who at the time was king of hats. Now, we need to remember that Blount applied for this position in 1946 and that no black woman applied to work for the company before. But based on her work and ability, Mildred Blount got the job. 

Jet, Jan. 28 1954 

Her work didn't start there. She also designed 87 miniature hat that represent styles from 1680-1937 at the New York World's Fair in 1939. The exhibiton receieved critical acclaim and earned her the Julius Rosenwald Fellowship, which allowed her to study in Paris. 

Back to her days at John Frederics days, Blount is credited to have designed all of the hats worn by Scarlett O'Hara and other female charcters in Gone With the Wind.

Because she worked under the Frederics company and her race, Blount did not receive an individual credit. It is said that Blount's exhibiton for the New York World's Fair is what attracted David Selznick and his wife (Gone with the Wind Producer) to Mildred Blount and the John Frederics company. 

She made more hats for film including hats for Margaret Sullivan in "Back Street" and for Marlene Dietrich in "The Lady is Willing". Opera Singer Marian Anderson was also a fan of her work. Blount went on to develop her own namesake label in the mid-1940's located in Beverly Hills, CA and contiuned to work until her death in 1974.
Using her position as a sought after designer, Mildred became an activist in her industry by fighting for inclusion of Black artists in Hollywood unions and never entered through the back door of any jobs that she worked at. Mildred Blount became the first black member of the Motion Pictures Costumers Union.

She also designed Gloria Vanderbilt's 1st bridal veil in 1941. Mildred Blount's hats can currently be found in the collections of the California African American Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. 
What a trailblazer! What I admire the most about Mildred's story is her dedication to make sure that she and fellow black artists in the film industry received what they deserved, she also had a lengthy career which shows true passion for her art. 


Keep creating a better world,
WM