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A Glamorous Gift to the Kunstgewerbemuseum: A Feather Bonnet Made by Milliner Anna Düll

29.10.2020
Kunstgewerbemuseum

A few weeks ago, the Kunstgewerbemuseum of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin was gifted a valuable feather bonnet made by the Heidelberg milliner Anna Düll. Katrin Lindemann was recently appointed the new curator for fashion and textiles at the Kunstgewerbemuseum. She is currently busy planning a new tour through the permanent exhibition, with one glamorous highlight already a certainty: a few weeks ago, the museum received a feather bonnet from the 1920s.

The one-of-a-kind piece was fabricated by the Heidelberg milliner Anna Düll (ca. 1884–1974). “Hats were a common accessory in the 1920s, and feather bonnets were also quite popular among the sophisticated ladies of the upper classes. Women would typically opt for an abundance of glitter for their evening dress, but their daytime wardrobe tended to be somewhat more sober. Nevertheless, they still sought to bring a touch of extravagance – such as hair accessories – to their daytime outfits,” Lindemann explains. Mounted onto a fabric backing, the entire bonnet is adorned with small, snuggly positioned feathers. The brown pheasant feathers appear seem to shift from orange to red to purple, depending on how the light hits them. The lateral end piece is formed on one side by protruding feathers, making the bonnet a very unusual item.

Cataloguing and Establishing the Origin of the Feather Bonnet

The curator has faced some challenges thus far in her research into the unique object: “Moving forward, the feathers will need to be analysed in greater depth in order to accurately catalogue the item. We are hoping that an ornithologist will be able to help us here. At this stage, we have been unable to find out anything more about the milliner Anna Düll; the question of whether she had her own millinery studio in Heidelberg is just as uncertain as whether there are any more pieces made by her in existence. The feather bonnet itself provides us with no further clues as to its origin; there is no label with the name of the studio where it was made, for example.”

The feather bonnet remained in the possession of Anna Düll’s family until the death of her daughter, Charlotte Düll (1914–1985). Shortly after Charlotte’s death, her neighbours, Dr Klaus and Brigitte Breuer, purchased her villa, situated near the banks of the Neckar River, on the condition that they would manage and appraise Düll’s estate. It was in this process that the bonnet came into their possession. When Ulla Rogalski, a friend of the Breuer family, spotted the feather bonnet on a visit to the house, she was instantly impressed and intrigued by it. In around 1995, the Breuer family gifted her the bonnet, which she wore a handful of times to mark special occasions and has kept stored in a small golden box until the present day. She donated the bonnet to the Kunstgewerbemuseum a few weeks ago, also on behalf of Mrs Breuer, in order to ensure that it would be in good hands. “The feather bonnet is in excellent condition, and we are so happy that the donors, Ms Rogalski and Ms Breuer, have chosen to entrust us with it,” says Lindemann.