Bes-Ben black velvet beaded hat with veil unworn w tags

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Bes-Ben black velvet beaded hat with veil unworn w tags
Founded by siblings Bess and Benjamin Green-Field, Bes-Ben sold elegant hats to society women and Hollywood starlets from the 1920s through the 1960s. Ben and Bess opened a shop in Chicago on 1924. The shop moved to Michigan Avenue in 1938 and was located there until 1978. These hats were truly for the rich and famous and worn by Tallulah Bankhead, Judy Garland, Greta Garbo, Lana Turner, Shirley Temple, including Chicago society ladies, like Rose Tomasello. High Fashion, the price range in the 1930's for a hat was $50.00 to $400.
Ben Green-Field became known as the “Mad Hatter” of Michigan Avenue, when, as a lark in 1941, he created a hat featuring small leather dalmatian dogs that proved to be a sensation. Characterized thereafter by wit and whimsy, Bes-Ben hats featured, among other things, rubber mice, cheese and a mousetrap, and cigarettes and matchbooks. Green-Field took inspiration from current events, found objects, and yearly around-the-world trips. While the hats had a humorous bent, their high-quality materials and workmanship made them status symbols. As “Mr. Ben” explained, “These hats stimulate conversation, and what woman doesn’t like to be the object of conversation.”

When a hat tops a world auction record it's bound to turn heads for a good hard look. That’s what Bes-Ben hats are renowned for achieving. One recent auction sale was a Bes-Ben creation called Independence Day. This festive hat was adorned with an unfurled American flag, red, white and blue firecrackers and stars. A furious bidding war erupted between an Illinois collector and a New York collector, and ended in a spontaneous burst of applause as a new world auction record of $18,400 was set, with the hat becoming the prized possession of the Illinois collector.
Place of Origin
Unworn with original tags
Dealer Location
San Francisco, CA
Number of Items
Reference Number
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1stdibs seller since 2009
Located in San Francisco, CA