Thursday, April 14, 2011

Couture Milliner to the Stars? Who Is/Was George Lawrence?

Several months ago while browsing my favorite auction site, EBay, I  bid on a package of millinery sketches.  Included with those sketches were a souvenir  book from the play Oklahoma, dated 1944; a notebook containing swatches of millinery materials, notes for various millinery techniques, George Lawrence  millinery labels, and the head measurements of a number of, I assume, his clients, one of which being Carole Channing.  The sketches covered a couple of decades, starting in the 1920s.  Some of the sketches were pencil drawn and later inked in brilliant colors, and some were left un-inked. A few of the sketches were of medieval costume headdresses.  Maybe Lawrence also made hats for the theater. 

My curiosity was even more heightened when I observed that there was a noticeable difference in the sketching skills, or lack of,  shown in the sketch renderings spanning across decades.  Why were the sketches from the 1920s more professional looking than those drawn in latter years.  ...but then I noticed something else, the sketches actually resembled those drawn by other designers from the periods they represented.  For example, if you've ever seen some of the costume books showing medieval costume sketches, some of the sketches appeared to be crude.  The sketches represented in Lawrence's drawings also appeared to be crude for that period,.  In other words, the differences between sketches may have been intentional.  Still there was something odd about the sketches.  Were these sketches rendered by the same person?  Did they really belong to George Lawrence, or did they  belong to a student of millinery?  Were these sketches rendered over several decades, or over a shorter period of time, perhaps for a class project?

So, ladies and gentlemen, who is/was George Lawrence, the milliner that made hats to order, as referenced on his millinery labels.  I know that, from my own personal research, some of the ladies in the head measurement list worked in the theater.  Of course we all know who Carol Channing is, and I must say that she has an impressive head size for the eras represented by the sketches.  Usually head measurements were smaller, thus all the size 22 hat blocks floating around from earlier eras. If you know who George Lawrence is/was, please let us know.


  1. I bet if you can find a scholar/archivist of historic film industry materials, especially someone into the studio and Broadway theatre company stuff, they might have heard of the gentleman. Very interesting! (From Rosenda)

  2. I am not familiar with names you mentioned but I can not take off my eyes off scetch with mauve and green hat...thanks for sharing! And of course I will follow the story. =)

  3. Lee, thank for this very informative post and sharing something as unique as this material. I truly enjoyed it!