Ars Lenci Cloche, Circa 1928

Have you ever looked at an object, admiring it, so long that you convinced yourself you had to have it? That’s what happened to me with this hat. I was having a hard time justifying the purchase, but after months of longing to add this to my collection, I bit the bullet, so to speak. My general rule about buying things that are in the upper end of my budget is that I ask myself, “How sad will I be if someone else buys this?” In this case I decided I would be very, very sad.

You may of heard of Lenci as a maker of felt dolls. The company was formed in Turin, Italy in 1918 or 1919. The first product was the dolls, but in 1927 they decided to branch out into fashion items for women and girls made from the same felt as the dolls. The line got a lot of good fashion press in both Europe and the United States.

The entire hat is constructed of felt, with colorful felt appliques of stylized flowers. It’s in very good condition, with a few tiny moth nibbles. This is, after all, made of wool felt.

This illustration is from a March 1928 issue of Women’s Wear Daily. And how about that umbrella?

This illustration is in the collection of the Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas in Madrid. My hat also has a contrasting brim like the model in the foreground.

Here’s the label. There must have been Lenci stores in New York, Paris, London , and Manchester. I did read a reference to a store in Paris.

Lenci garments and accessories are quite rare. There is currently a darling girl’s bonnet listed on etsy, and a really sweet little sewing kit attributed to Lenci. This hat came from the collection of long-time Canadian collector Alan Suddon, who died in 2001. My thanks to Cora Ginsburg LLC for the information, the ads, and most of all the hat.


Filed under 1920s fashion, Collecting, Summer Sports

12 responses to “Ars Lenci Cloche, Circa 1928

  1. What a great post. I am fascinated with your cloche (great purchase), loved the images you provided and so searched on-line for Ars Lenci and have gone down the rabbit hole looking at adorable and stylish items.

    One of the first things that appeared when I used search term ‘Ars Lenci’ is an interesting article from a year ago about the company and founders. You may already know this stuff, but if not, here it is:

    The article’s final sentence is cut and pasted here, and is persuasive concerning the name Lenci: “Also the origin of the term Lenci is due to Scavini’s wife, from the play on words of Helen’s diminutive (affectionately called Elenchen by her father and mispronounced by her as a child in ‘Lenci’).”


    Liked by 1 person

  2. eileen ann glennon

    Thanks for this nice piece about Lenci! For those of us who felt, this also brings some bursts of inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person


    Aother winner!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mary Jane Enros

    A stunning piece! So glad to see it in your collection!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Diane b

    I love reading about your discernment in purchasing. As a woman of a certain age I don’t need one more thing & yet I continue to buy. But, I too, think about it for a while & sometimes lose “it” to a different buyer. I will use your motto in my future decisions.
    Thanks for sharing – I always enjoy your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Eric Smith

    Magnificent hat of that era! I can see a seam around the top- I would assume that it was stitched as a simple shape and them steamed on a block before the applique was done on it. The Singer Embroidery Book of the era suggests applique felt by stitching from the back, and trimming the piece just outside the stitching lines after, but a home sewer would have been working on a flat piece, it would take a special industrial machine to get inside the hat, run by a skillful operator.

    Liked by 1 person

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