Claude Saint Cyr, the French Milliner to Queen Elizabeth II

As part of our continuing series – What’s in a Label, meet our milliner of the month  Claude Saint-Cyr.

Who was Claude Saint-Cyr

Claude Saint-Cyr was one of the most important milliners of the 20th century. Known for her innovative materials and designs, the most fashionable women of the day wore her label. Born Simone Naudet in 1911 in Paris, Saint-Cyr began her millinery training at the age of 18 and worked with many notable Paris designers, including Jean Patou, Marie-Louise Carven, and Rose Descat.  Saint Cyr later trained in London, where she changed her professional name to Claude Saint-Cyr. 

She established her own millinery salon in 1937 in Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honor̩,  Paris, and later opened another shop in London in 1950.

This Saint Cyr hat from 1958 is a wide-sided casual style in pale sea green chiffon felt with a brim framing the wearer's face

The Aubusson Tapestry Collection at MadgesHatbox Vintage

In 1951, Saint-Cyr created a collection of hats made from traditional French Aubusson tapestry. This innovative collaboration between Saint-Cyr and her husband, interior designer Georges Martin, was inspired after Martin recovered the chairs in Saint-Cyr’s salon.  Saint-Cyr named the first collection Aubusson.   Only 160 tapestry hats were made over the next four years.  She trained the weavers, accustomed to making carpets, on how to build a hat and use finer weaves.   

At a vintage auction in Paris, Madge scored four of the milliners rare tapestry hats, now available at special pricing all month.

Vintage Aubusson tapestry hat
available at MadgesHatbox
1950s whimsy or veil hat
Wig Toque of shaded uncurled ostrich. Black velvet brow bow and covered with a sheer tulle "bell"
Claude Saint Cyr, french milliner to Queen Elizabeth
After-dark Elegance: Tall turban of white and black plumage has an amusing "bang" of brilliant blue coque

Queen Elizabeth’s Milliner

In collaboration with British designer Norman Hartnell, Saint-Cyr’s designs were favorites of the British royal family in the 1950s and 1960s.  Saint-Cyr was the only French milliner to make hats for Queen Elizabeth.  She created her 1953 coronation hat and the 1960 wedding veil of Princess Margaret.

Saint-Cyr closed her salon in 1964 but began working with French milliner Jean Barthet, a supplier of hats to celebrities such as Princess Grace of Monaco and Maria Callas. Although she retired in 1972 Saint- Cyr continued to act as a consultant to bridal design houses until the mid-1990s.

Claude Saint Cyr died in 2002.

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