The milliner and designer Adolfo F. Sardiña was born in Havana, Cuba, around 1933.

In 1948 with the help of his aunt Maria Lopez, he moved to New York, where he began working as an apprentice at the department store Bergdorf Goodman.

In 1951 he moved to Paris, and began to work at Cristobal Balenciaga’s hat salon.

He then moved back to New York and to Bergdorf Goodman, but now to work at Emme as an hatter who signed his works as “Adolfo of Emme”.

In the 1950s, he became famous for his hat models that dispensed wires or inner stuffing and used only stitches.

He won a Coty award (The Coty American Fashion Critics’ Awards) in 1955 as a young fashion designer.

In 1962 he opened his own brand.

In 1963 he opened two other brands, “Adolfo Réalités” and “Adolfo II”, only working in the designs of the brands products and outsourcing the manufacture using the “Award Hat Company”. Both companies, “Adolfo Réalités” and “Adolfo II” were created to produce products more affordable.

Shortly after opening his brands, Adolfo began to produce clothes that matched his hats. His creations included hooded jersey caps, hats with removable goggles and huge fur berets.

In the 1960s he launched the “Panama Planter’s hat” made of wheat straw and adorned it with a striped ribbon or jersey; shaggy Cossack Hats made fur or velour and variations of the Bowler Hat and the Pillbox hat.

It was in the early 1960s that he became being patronized by Gloria Vanderbilt and other American society women.

On millinery shows Adolfo would dress the mannequins in garments designed by himself. The feedback was very postive and costumers demanded that he would produce a ready-to-wear collection.

His clothes had vestiges of costume, such as: A long melton officer’s coat with epaulettes and gold buttons; gingham dirdnl skirts and lacy cotton blouses; jersey jumpsuits; organdy jumpers; Gibson Girl blouses and Patchwork skirts.

In the 1970s he abandoned the theatrical elements and began to design more classic clothes, basing his collections on classic knitted suits and tailored dresses, crochet dresses and a clean, straight line silhouette.

One of his most famous pieces is a lady-like cardigan inspired by Chanel, for whom he also worked briefly early in his career.

Some of his clients were: The Duchess of Windsor, Gloria Vanderbilt, Betsy Bloomingdale, Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Nancy Reagan.

In 1993 Adolfo ended his career as a designer to focus his work on managing his brands.

Adolfo was known as a designer of a coservative and restrict clientele, which included wives of US political leaders.

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Bibliography: Callan, Georgina O’Hara; Enciclopédia da moda de 1840 à década de 90 / Georgina O’Hara Callan ; verbetes brasileiros Cynthia Garcia : tradução Glória Maria de Mello Carvalho, Maria Ignez França – São Paulo : Companhia das Letras, 2007.

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