Partner Frederic Hirsch
Mr. John, Inc., 24 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019
John P. John (14 March 1902 – 25 June 1993) was an American milliner. According to the New York Times, "in the 1940s and 1950s, the name Mr. John was as famous in the world of hats as Christian Dior was in the realm of haute couture".
Born John Pico Harberger in Munich, Germany, Mr. John studied medicine at University of Lucerne, and art at the Sorbonne. Mr. John immigrated to the United States in 1919. He apprenticed to his mother, Madame Laurel, as a dressmaker, before forming a partnership with Frederic Hirsch, as milliners known as John-Frederics, in 1929.
In October 1947, friends Rafael Partida and Alfonso Cava left Mexico City for a twoweek vacation in New York City. Their itinerary included shopping, theatre, gay parties and men. Upon arriving at the Roosevelt Hotel on the afternoon of 11 October, a gay friend whisked them off to a cocktail party. Later that night, they slummed in Harlem, met handsome men of all races and obtained theatre tickets; the next day, Partida called poet Salvador Novo – then en route to London – to brag about their exploits. Novo chronicled a tamer version of Partida and Cava’s adventures in his weekly gossip column contrasting their nightly partying with a quiet gathering they attended in the flat that fashion power couple John Frederics and Frederic Hirsch shared with Hirsch’s mother. Novo showed the quotidian normalcy of a cohabiting gay couple and mainstreamed homosexuality for his Mexican straight and gay readers, taking them into the couple’s bedroom, drawing attention to their cupid-crowned, queensized bed. Although homophobia was rife in Mexico, Novo’s readers – like much of Mexican officialdom – were tolerant of discreet gays. Novo’s chronicling of gay life abroad, along with his indirect contrasting of domestic and international narratives of gay domesticity, introduced his readers to different relationship models than discussed in novels and in the press.
The John‐Frederics partnership lasted for about 20 years. Then Frederics went into business under his own name, and Harberger set up shop as Mr. John, Inc., calling himself John P. John. At the time of Mr. Fred's death, their shops were lined up back to back off Fifth Avenue: Mr. John, Inc., was at 24 West 57th Street, and John Frederics at 23 West 56th Street.
John Harberger started his own millinery company, Mr. John, Inc., in New York in 1948. Mr. John's most famous work was his millinery for Vivien Leigh in Gone With The Wind. With a long association with Hollywood and Broadway, his hats were much in demand. A famous anecdote about Mr. John goes that a woman came into his shop in urgent need of a hat. He built one up right on her head, but she balked when he named his price. He then disassembled the pieces and handed them to her. "That's $3.59," he said, "You make it." Mr. John was an early licensor of his name & image. He partnered for that purpose in 1953 with Louis Blum of Kent Jewelry for Men as a licensee for Men's Costume Jewelry. Mr. John was a humble man and attributed all of his success to Mary Pickford. In 1993 Mr. John died at 91 in his Manhattan apartment.
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