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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