This story is even more enlightening for me because yesterday I learned that Ruth Carter, Oscar award winning costume designer for Black Panther, will be the first African American costumer to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame later this month. It’s said that the last costumer to have the honor was Edith Head in 1974.
Mildred Blount became interested in millinery after working at Madame Clair’s Dress and Hat Shop in NYC. She and her sister went on to open their own shop focusing on wealthy New Yorkers. Ms. Blount looked to the past for inspiration and found that that research served her well when her designs were shown at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. The collection of 87 miniature hat styles from 1680 to 1937 told the story of this fabulous accessory. Her work was so well received and her reputation spread so quickly that Mildred was asked to design hats for the films Gone with the Wind and Easter Parade. Her hats even appeared on the cover of Ladies’ Home Journal in August 1942. She opened a hat shop in Beverly Hills, Ca later in the ‘40s where she was known as the “milliner to the stars”. Her clients included Marian Anderson, Rosalind Russell, Mary Pickford, Ginger Rogers, Joan Crawford and Gloria Vanderbilt (she designed her wedding veil.) She eventually became the first African American member of the Motion Pictures Costumers Union. Trailblazer Mildred Blount died in Los Angeles, Ca in 1974. Her work is held in the California African American Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.