Tomorrow I’m going to be doing a tutorial on how to make a mid-late 18th century inspired bergere hat, so I thought that perhaps first I should tell you exactly what a bergere is, and we should look at lots and lots of bergere inspiration.
A bergere is a low crowned, wide-brimmed hat, usually of straw, but sometimes made of other materials covered in silk. Bergere hats first appeared in the 1730s, and were popular in various forms throughout the 18th century.
The style saw a revival in the 1860s, and the name was occasionally used in the decades after that to describe hats based on similar shapes, though these were more commonly called Gainsborough or picture hats. A 1930s fashion column even makes the link between the two.
Bergere literally means shepherdess (the masculine shepherd is a berger), and the style has a strong link with 18th century pastorialism, and pastoral fashions. Bergere hats are also sometimes called milkmaid hats. It’s easy to see how a simple, wide-brimmed straw hat would be a useful part of a shepherdesses or milkmaids costume, protecting the skin from the sun and the eyes from glare.
Some authors have suggested that the bergere hat is named after Boucher’s famous portrait of Madame Bergeret with a bergere hat. This is very unlikely as the style of hat predates the painting by some ’30 years, and there is such a clear link between the shepherdess aesthetic and the bergere hat. More likely the painting is a coincidence, or Madame Bergeret posed with a bergere hat as a witty allusion to her name, somewhat like the juniper in Ginevra de’ Benci’s portrait.
Here are some more variants on the bergere as inspiration for tomorrow’s post:
And check out the silk brocade lining of this one:
Bermingham, Anne and Brewer, John. Consumption of Culture: 1600-1800: Image, Object, Text. London: Routledge. 1995
Cumming, Valerie and Cunnington, C.W.; Cunnington, P.E, The dictionary of fashion history (Rev., updated ed.). Oxford: Berg. 2010
Grantland, Brenda and Robak, Mary, Hatatorium: An Essential Guide for Hat Collectors. Self Published. 2011
O’Hara, Georgina, The Encyclopedia of Fashion: From 1840 to the 1980s. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd. 1986