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John, John P.

designs millinery continued label

B. March 14, 1906

D. June 25, 1993

Birthplace: Munich, Germany

Awards: Coty American Fashion Critics Award, 1943
          Neiman Marcus Award, 1950
          Millinery Institute of America Award, 1956

John P. John, born John (Hans) Piocelle Harberger, immigrated to the United States and worked initially as a dressmaker for Mme. Laurel in 1926, before forming a partnership with Frederic Hirst in 1929 to establish the millinery label John-Frederics. The John and Hirst partnership continued until 1948 when John independently formed Mr. John, Inc.

John was one of the most prominent milliners working in New York in the 1930s. His spirited, chic designs garnered him attention from Hollywood where he worked with costume designers including Gilbert Adrian, Walter Plunkett, and Cecil Beaton. His headwear designs for Gone with the Wind (1939) popularized bonnets, picture hats, and the snood and brought glamor and romance to women’s wartime fashions. The movies allowed John’s designs to be seen by thousands, launching headwear trends across the United States and in Paris. John’s work was regularly featured on the cover of Vogue magazine during the 1940s and 1950s. Unlike other milliners who layered flowers, feathers, and netting to create frothy designs, John relied on pure shape and form for effect. The sculptural style of John’s designs complemented the carefully molded, corseted, and padded silhouette of Dior’s New Look.

At the peak of his career, John employed 150 people and produced 16,000 hats per year. In addition to the Mr. John label, John continued to design under the John-Frederics label, and produced millinery under the labels Fredoras, Charmers, Sweet Young Things, and Mr. Fred. He also expanded to produce lines of gloves, stockings, hair nets, scarves, stoles, and Golden Arrow cologne for men. John closed his millinery business in 1970 but continued to design for private clients, developing a line of clothing that was later carried at I. Magnin.

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