From the Collection of Helen W. Drutt English
Beautiful handmade hats are objects of great craftsmanship and artistry. In recent history, women's hats typically evoke a certain time period when particular styles, materials, and shapes were fashionable, even cutting-edge. But as social patterns changed so did the popularity of hats. Today, the millinery art form is scarcely seen except for high fashion runways, Sunday church-going, a royal event in Great Britain, or the annual running of the Kentucky Derby.
For Philadelphian Helen W. Drutt English, who is world renowned for her contributions to the Contemporary Craft Movement, her love of accessories-hats, gloves, scarves-has always been an integral part of her persona. Like most serious collectors, Drutt English has gathered her collection over many years from millinery shops locally, nationally, and internationally. As a connoisseur of objects, sculptural forms, and design, Drutt-English's personal hat collection is an extension of herself. This exhibition is a small sampling of her passion for beautiful chapeaus.
Helen Williams Drutt English is world renowned for her significant contributions and continual commitment to the advancement and awareness of the Modern and Contemporary Craft Movement. Drutt English's earliest achievements in the field include her appointment as volunteer Executive Director and a founding member of the Philadelphia Council of Professional Craftsmen (1967-1974), author of the first college level syllabus on the history of modern craft (1973), and the establishment of Helen Drutt: Philadelphia, one of the first galleries in the United States committed to modern and contemporary crafts (1973).
Over the past decades, Drutt English has also acquired a significant collection of jewelry in order to preserve an important segment of this art form's history. The exhibition "Contemporary Jewellry: 1964-1994, Helen Williams Drutt Collection," has traveled to major museums throughout the world including the Montreal Museum of Decorative Arts, Canada; Museum voor Modern Kunst, Oostende, Belgium; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and Museum Bellerive, Zurich. The collection is now a permanent part of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
With all of these significant accomplishments, and only a few have been acknowledged, Helen Williams Drutt English is an invaluable resource to artists, curators, and institutions worldwide. Her mission has always been to strengthen the visibility of contemporary crafts and all of her endeavors point towards that singular goal.