Guess what the Oscar winning historic figures pictured have in common with the Red Cross collection at the National Archives? Keep reading for the answers.
Here is the next installment of Visiting archivist Pat Anderson’s Observations on the Red Cross conservation rehousing project, “Pieroni Hats at the National Archives and the Oscars?”
Seen in the photos are Captian Jack Sparrow from the 2003 film Pirates of the Caribbean, the gendarme from Scorsese’s 2011 film Hugo Cabret, and three characters from movies made in 2012: Les Miserables, Anna Karenina, and Spielberg’s Lincoln. The next photo shows a straw hat which belonged to “Dottie” a member of the American National Red Cross. What do the hats all have in common? Most curious, don’t you think?
During preparation procedures for housing and conserving the Red Cross hats, one of the first items we examine is information in the label. The label in this ladies hand-made straw hat with a silk ribbon and bow identifies it as being made by Ditta Pieroni Bruno s.n.c. in Rome and includes an address and telephone number.
Research revealed that the Ditta Peroni Bruno company was founded around the time of WWII and originally made hats for the Italian military. After the war they moved into the costume business for stage and screen and are still making beautiful hand made period costumes, including hats, armour, breastplates and gloves. The hats and gloves in Hugo’s, Jack Sparrow’s pirate hat, Lincoln’s top hat, and Dottie’s straw hat were all hand made by the same Italian company, Ditta Pieroni Bruno.
This is only the beginning of our research because previously we had mis-identified this hat as part of Dottie’s WWI clothing, but Ditta Pieroni Bruno wasn’t founded until 1939. Jana Dambrogio and I sent an email with photos to the company and asked if they had clues about its history. Thanks to information provided by Bruno’s son Massimo and Massimo’s wife Stefania Pieroni, we learned that NARA’s Pieroni hat is a replica of an original hat from 1900 made by Bruno Pieroni himself. The Pieroni’s provided this link to the news broadcast featuring an interview on their most recent creations found in many of this year’s Oscar nominated movies. http://mediacenter.dw.de/english/search/hatmaker/ The Pieroni coverage begins at minute 12:00 to 16:50.
Ditta Pieroni Bruno at one time made hats and military uniforms. Since the 1930s the studio changed their name and specialty to movie costumes. Check out their website at: http://www.laboratoriopieroni.it/ to learn about all the movies where one can see their work made for Fellini films to Dick Tracy in the 1990s.
From Perioni’s website it does not appear that they ever had a storefront for Dottie to go shopping. We are left to wonder did Dottie get it second hand and put her name in it? Was she an Italian film star that wore the hat and later moved to the United States and joined the Red Cross? What we do know about the hat is that it is strikingly stylish, made of very finely braided straw and is still in beautiful condition.