February 15, 2012 – A Fashion Interlude

Recently I had the good fortune of meeting one of Ling-Ai’s nieces who had saved many of Ling-Ai’s papers and possessions.  I am currently poring through documents and pieces of paper, looking for clues that tell more about the making of KUKAN.  It can be a tedious job.  So I took an afternoon off to explore some of Ling-Ai’s fashion accessories that had been painstakingly packed away.  Ling-Ai had an obvious flair for fashion.  And the vintage clothes lover in me went gaga as I opened this eye-catching tres MOD turquoise hat box.  

Photo of Li Ling-Ai's Hat Box.

Li Ling-Ai's Mod Turquoise Hat Box could be a fashion accessory in itself


The contents of the box did not disappoint.  I discovered three exquisitely crafted little numbers.  A pink brocade small saucer hat with a stunning plume was my favorite.

Photo of Li Ling-Ai's Nick Savage pink brocade hat.

Plumed pink brocade hat by Nick Savage

I had a lot of fun imagining the type of occasion Ling-Ai chose to wear this hat to.
Photo of pink brocade hat.
Photo of Nick Savage pink brocade plumed hat owned by Li Ling-Ai
While photographing this hat, I noticed the amazing craftsmanship that went into it’s construction.
Photo of detail from pink brocade hat by Nick Savage

Detail of pink brocade hat.

A signed label was sewn into the inside lining of the hat.  Nick Savage appears to be the talented milliner who made it.
Photo of inside of pink brocade hat
These next two pieces were also made by Nick. And are equally exquisite.
Photo of gold ponytail hat by Nick Savage.

Gold ponytail hat by Nick Savage.Gold-banded camellia hat by Nick Savage

Photo of gold-banded camellia hat by Nick Savage

Gold-banded camellia hat by Nick Savage


The little details are marvelous. Check out the separate braided strands that start this gold pony-tail plume.

Photo of gold ponytail saucer hat by Nick Savage

 And the perfect positioning of the brocaded fabric.
Gold ponytail saucer hat by Nick Savage.
The camellia on this inventive piece was a little a squished, but I imagine it was pretty sumptious when Ling-Ai wore it back in the day.
Photo of gold-banded camellia hat by Nick Savage
Gold-banded camellia hat by Nick Savage
I couldn’t find any information on the internet about the talented Nick Savage.  But I did find a little label in the inside of this camellia hat. 
 It had a New York City address — 350 East 50th Street — from Google Maps it looks to be a building just off Lexington Ave.  If any fashionistas have any more information on him, please let me know.  I have Mr. Savage’s millinery gifts, Li Ling-Ai’s fashion sense and her niece’s foresight to thank for a wonderful afternoon spent in a world of gamorous fantasy. 
Black velvet rhinestone and pearl studded hat from Li Ling-Ai's collection.

Black velvet rhinestone and pearl studded hat from Li Ling-Ai's collection.

To top off my post I’ll leave with a few shots of another gorgeous topper in Ling-Ai’s collection (by an unknown maker).
 Detail of Velvet Hat

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4 Responses to February 15, 2012 – A Fashion Interlude

  1. Luscious photos Robin! Save these for the FINDING KUKAN coffee table book! st

  2. Lisa Usher says:

    Oh! you must really ask Bill Cunningham , the delightful gentleman photographer who is in his 80’s and riding his bike around midtown Manhattan snapping away for his NYTimes
    fashion photo column,”On the Street”. I once read he had a millinery in that same part of town ,during his younger days. There is also a recent documentary about him,which I
    haven’t watched yet.

    • robin says:

      That’s a great idea, Lisa. I’m a fan of Cunningham — I used to live in NYC and started watching his “On The Street” podcasts when I moved to Hawaii. They always make me feel like I’ve taken a short trip back to NYC withouth having to deal with jetlag :). The documentary was wonderul. Make an effort to see it. I forgot that Cunningham was a former milliner. He seems to have an encyclopedic memory so perhaps he can shed light on who Nick Savage was.

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