Hats by Elsie: A Milliner’s Treasure

APRIL 7th – JUNE 5th

Highfield is excited to host this artful display featuring millinery tools, materials, and accessories from a New Bedford milliner’s business archive. Shown throughout the interior of the house, this exhibition will be a first-time look into the work and business of Elsie Rebello, a creative entrepreneur, mother, and teacher who at the age of 92, has never stopped making hats.

A perfect welcome to spring, the exhibition is curated by Rita Pacheco, who has been the designer of Highfield Hall & Gardens’ Holidays at Highfield for three years. Rita’s installation design combines her inventive expression while presenting archival material sensitive to its historical value and blending theatrics so visitors can imagine visiting a milliner’s salon in the past.

After completing her first course in millinery in 1961, Elsie Rebello set about opening a salon. After declaring that she wanted to master the craft of millinery while raising a family, she opened her business “Hats by Elsie” in the front parlor of her home in New Bedford in 1963. Knowledgeable in sourcing materials, Elsie expanding her clientele, marketing her offerings while furthering her education and training in millinery art, thereby positioning herself at the center of boutique hat making in the area. When the fashion for elaborate hats declined in the later 1960s, she seamlessly adapted her skills to modern custom wedding and special event hats and veils.

This rare intact archive offers glimpses of the exquisite materials, technical prowess of a mistress of the craft, evidence of prolific production and insight into the details of running a custom works business.

Coupled with other art exhibits on view at Highfield Hall this spring, Hats by Elsie will offer hands-on opportunities for workshops, tours, lectures, and private parties.

Please call the office at 508-495-1878 to book your private event today!