Impeccable style and craft: 5 milliners in Turin

Palazzo Madama

Torino. A century of fashion

An essential accessory
The hat was a usual complement for women’s attire in XIXth century, and became an essential accessory for women of any social class in the XXth. In the ‘20s, both woman and dress arose in modern concepts: the hat follows this change, with the freedom and the fantasy it was granted by his purely aesthetic function. Palazzo Madama’s collection is made up of citizens donations, and highlights the particular undertone of Torino’s ladies. They were famous for their internationally-Inspired style, they took advantage of high-class millineries such as Vassallo and David. They also bought their hats in Paris, in the most eminent maisons: Caroline Reboux, Worth’s collaborator for the Empress Eugenie, Maria Guy, her apprentice, the Maison Lewis, in rue Royale. In the following decades, excellent millineries, like Cerrato, Maria Volpi, Chiusano e Rigo, Gina Faloppa, maintained a privileged relationship with the French capital and proposed, besides their own, original models or licensed copies from maisons like Pierre Balmain, Christian Dior, Jean Barthet, Claude Saint-Cyr. 

Wedding hat

This hat, in black silk damask, accompanied a straight lined wedding dress, as was custom at the beginning of the twentieth century in the countryside and valleys of Piedmont.

Silk velvet hat
1928 - 1930

Made by Modisteria Matteis (Milliners) in Turin.

Wool felt hat
1930 - 1935

Made by a Turin Millinery

The Viora company

The history of Viora company dates back to ‘800, the great-grandmother, Margaret, left for Paris. The family business that has been working in the Turin fashion circuit until 1978.

I entered the Viora family company as a young newlywed. It was specialized in processed feathers and artificial flowers. At the beginning, I kept the records of the 22 employees. Things came from themselves: I learned how to dye feathers and flowers and to work on them. The workshop in via Po 5 was made of 8 beautiful lounges, of 8 and a half meters in height. It was so cold in the Winter months! All the workers had a warmer under the apron. Near the window, there were the most experienced ones, and on the other side of the table the young ones, because the apprenticeship lasted 5 or 6 years. To produce a flower, you started from silk, which they bought in Como. We cut the petals, using real flowers as models, then we dyed them and put them together. We used some molds to cut them and others, carved, to imprint ribs. The petals were bent one by one by the boules, irons heated on a gas stove, and fitted with stamens bought in Paris. Exotic feather were bought in London, instead, like ostrich’s for boas, but simple hen, rooster and pheasant’s feathers were used as well. You just had to know how to dye them, then work with a lot of patience. - Ada Viora

Wool felt hat
1938 - 1942

Made by a Turin Millinery

Chiusano and Rigo, a renowed name in Turin

The luxurious millinery of Chiusano and Rigo was founded by Lucia Chiusano and Caterina Rigo in 1924, and had its window-shops on one the city's prime streets for fashion shops.

Viscose velvet, aigrette hat
1950 - 1955

Made by a Turin Millinery

Maria Volpi

Maria Volpi, whose store was in via Carlo Alberto 1, competed in the Fifties/Sixties with the Tealdi millinery over Turin's best clientele.

Lupotto and Calosso Milliners

Romilda Calosso began her sartorial apprenticeship in 1929, aged 14, in the Chiappino fashion house, where Irma Lupotto was a first modiste. They woud later open a milliner's shop together in via dei Mercanti, later transferred to the elegant via Pietro Micca at the culmination of their success.

I started working with a milliner when I was 12: I tied up, delivered products and sewed labels. I entered Gina Faloppa’s workshop as a worker and soon I became the prèmiere. We began shaping the coated iron wire frame, and on it we shaped the spaltrì, a sheet of woven straw. Then it was hardened with the spart cement and became the framework on which we created hats of different fabrics and colors. In the workshop, milliners’ hands were fast. The workers sat around a long rectangular table. Each of them had a small, stuffed plank, covered in white canvas on their knees, on which they placed the hat to work on it, while on the table there were the irons, the boules on which we gave fabrics a rounded shape, scissors, pliers, boxes of pins and glue. Needles were always pinned on a white apron. There was a good smell in the air, the smell of new fabrics and tenaccio, the glue used to sew. And there was excitement, especially when we prepared a new collection and chose news colors and materials - Angela Rosmino

Ostrich feathers headdress
1960 - 1965

Made by a Turin Millinery

Irridescent taffeta, wire and tulle hat

Made by Modisteria Chiusano e Rigo

Topstitched wool felt hat
1960 - 1962

Made by Turin Millinery

Silk organza cap

Made by Modisteria Volpi

Silk organza, viscose velvet, taffetas hat

Made by Modisteria Volpi

Wool felt, braided leather, fox fur hat
1968 - 1972

Made by Modisteria Lorenzini

Credits: Story

Exhibition by:
Maria Paola Ruffino, Curatore per le arti decorative, Palazzo Madama
Coordinamento: Carlotta Margarone, Responsabile Comunicazione, Fondazione Torino Musei
Inserimento: Valentina Lo Faro e Francesca Papasergi
Traduzioni: Alessandro Malusà

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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