Francois, Inc., New York, Bonnet, ca. 1895. Straw, silk chiffon, velvet. Collection of Shelburne Museum, 1985-50.31
In the 1880s women’s coiffures gained height and often featured a curly top with bangs. The tall crown and upturned brim of this bonnet would have not only accommodated but also accentuated such a stylish up do. Often decorated with silk flowers, feathers, fringe, and lace, these bonnets perched atop heads as more of an ornament than protection from the elements.
Known in New York for their stylish hats, the Francois showrooms were located on Fifth Avenue although their designs were also retailed in department stores and millinery shops throughout the United States. The name Francois suggests that the designer was either from France or trying to capitalize on the vogue for French fashion.