Madame Paulette was Paris’s ‘queen of milliners’. She learned her trade between the wars, and by the 1940s and ’50s her hats crowned the heads of everyone who was anyone in Paris, and increasingly were sought by the rich and famous around the world
Film stars such as Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Rita Hayworth and Audrey Hepburn were among those who favoured Madame Paulette’s headwear; royal customers included Princess Grace of Monaco and the Duchess of Windsor. Cecil Beaton asked her to create the hats for My Fair Lady and Gigi, for which he won Academy Awards for Costume Design.
Astonishingly original, no two hats were alike. She designed perfect pillbox creations (as worn by Jackie Kennedy); tiny, exquisite confections of voile, ribbons and flowers; and her legendary ‘turban-bicyclette’, sought after by the modern, progressive woman (and famously worn by Simone de Beauvoir).
The great fashion photographers clamoured for her designs: Avedon, Newton, Horst and Klein vied for the latest Madame Paulette models for their fashion shoots in the pages of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Paris couturiers patronized Madame Paulette’s atelier for her latest creations: as well as her friend Robert Piguet, designers such as Pierre Balmain, Pierre Cardin, Louis Féraud, Guy Laroche and Emanuel Ungaro depended on her skills. Gabrielle Chanel, a former hat-maker herself, came to her. Even in her eighties, Paulette created hats for designers Claude Montana and Thierry Mugler.