In the 20th century, floral hats are the collaboration of two groups of craftspeople: the milliners and the makers of artificial flowers. The craft of producing in fabric, shell, or paper flowers that imitate nature has been established since the 16th century. In France, a guild of fleuristes-bouquetiers was recognized by King Henry IV in 1599. Silk and other fine fabrics are cut and hand painted to mimic petals then shaped over heated metal forms to give them the appropriate curve or texture. This craft continues unabated in Paris, though mechanical production and sophisticated fabric printing methods have almost duplicated their artistic output. For their part, milliners use the flower as inspiration for, and decoration upon, form. The hats themselves become blossoms. Whether a single dramatic bloom or a symphony of harmonious flowers in color combinations, the floral hat has been the epitome of the milliner’s art.
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