Overheard in an



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Description: Overheard in an orchard is the name of one of the more flamboyant creations by celebrity milliner, Mr John of New York. The hat in this photograph was made of silk and decorated with flowers and

Overheard in an orchard is the name of one of the more flamboyant creations by celebrity milliner, Mr John of New York. The hat in this photograph was made of silk and decorated with flowers and butterflies. Two props, an extra flower placed at the bottom left and and a butterfly perched on the models hand, have been included to balance the whole composition. The strong diagonals created by the model’s arm and the angle of the hat give the otherwise static image a dynamic quality.

John P. John was born John Pico Harberger in Munich in 1906 and emigrated to the USA in 1919. He later studied medicine at University of Lucerne, and art at the Sorbonne and l’École des Beaux Arts in Paris. After being apprenticed to his mother, dressmaker Madame Laurel, he formed a partnership with Frederick Hirst, John-Frederics, in 1929. He started his own millinery company, Mr. John, Inc. in New York in 1948.

According to the New York Times, in the 1940′s and 1950′s, the name Mr. John was as famous in the world of hats as Christian Dior was in the realm of haute couture. His designs attracted attention from Hollywood and he worked with costume designers including Gilbert Adrian, Walter Plunkett, and Cecil Beaton. He designed Greta Garbo’s hat in Mata Hari. Marlena Dietrich’s cloche in Shanghai Express. Marilyn Monroe’s headdress in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and the headwear for Vivien Leigh as Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. His clients outside of the film world included Eleanor Roosevelt, Gypsy Rose Lee, Jaqueline Onassis and Wallace Simpson. Mr John received the Coty American Fashion Critics award in 1943, the Neiman Marcus award in 1950 and the Millinery Institute of America award, 1956.

All of the hats by Mr John that appear in the Powerhouse museum collection photographs have names, often with references to art or literature. Overheard in an orchard is the title of a poem by Elizabeth Cheney, written in 1859:






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