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Auntie Anna’s hats

<p>Anna Lindsey Perry-Fiske collected hats from a variety of designers, a large portion of her collection is by designer Irina Roublon. PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO |SPECIAL TO NHN</p>

Anna Lindsey Perry-Fiske collected hats from a variety of designers, a large portion of her collection is by designer Irina Roublon. PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO |SPECIAL TO NHN

<p>Docent Barbara Sterne tries on one of Anna Lindsey Perry-Fiske’s hats. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO|SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>

Docent Barbara Sterne tries on one of Anna Lindsey Perry-Fiske’s hats. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO|SPECIAL TO NHN)

Anna Lindsey Perry-Fiske’s hat collection is shown at the historical home at Anna Ranch Heritage Center. Regular tours are available to see the collection of unique hats, which will be displayed until the end of April.
Anna Lindsey Perry-Fiske’s hat collection is shown at the historical home at Anna Ranch Heritage Center. Regular tours are available to see the collection of unique hats, which will be displayed until the end of April.
A straw hat belonging to Anna Lindsey Perry-Fiske is on display in one of the bedrooms at the historical home at Anna Ranch Heritage Center.
A straw hat belonging to Anna Lindsey Perry-Fiske is on display in one of the bedrooms at the historical home at Anna Ranch Heritage Center.
<p>Photographs of Anna Lindsey Perry-Fiske wearing her hat collection are included in the special hat display that will be available until the end of April at the Anna Ranch Heritage Center. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO|SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>

Photographs of Anna Lindsey Perry-Fiske wearing her hat collection are included in the special hat display that will be available until the end of April at the Anna Ranch Heritage Center. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO|SPECIAL TO NHN)

<p>Anna Lindsey Perry Fiske’s hat collection is shown at the historical home at Anna Ranch Heritage center. Regular tours are available to see the collection of unique hats, which will be displayed until the end of April. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO|SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>

Anna Lindsey Perry Fiske’s hat collection is shown at the historical home at Anna Ranch Heritage center. Regular tours are available to see the collection of unique hats, which will be displayed until the end of April. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO|SPECIAL TO NHN)

<p>Anna Lindsey Perry Fiske’s hat collection is shown at the historical home at Anna Ranch Heritage center. Regular tours are available to see the collection of unique hats, which will be displayed until the end of April. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO|SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>

Anna Lindsey Perry Fiske’s hat collection is shown at the historical home at Anna Ranch Heritage center. Regular tours are available to see the collection of unique hats, which will be displayed until the end of April. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO|SPECIAL TO NHN)

Mink tails and pheasant feathers, pleats, pearl hat pins, pretty satin ribbons and bows adorn “Auntie Anna’s” now-vintage collection of high-fashion hats on display at the Anna Ranch Heritage Center through the end of April. For a short time, all are welcome to view her velvety turbans and Derby Day chapeaus heaped with flowers, chic little pill boxes a la Jackie Kennedy, and a pink Easter bonnet Judy Garland would have loved.

Head to toe, ranch woman Anna Lindsey Perry-Fiske was one of Waimea’s most colorful and enduring characters. She was well known for giving elegant soirees in the evening after a long day of roping and riding side by side with the ranch paniolo. When she died in 1995 at the age of 95, her will established that Anna Ranch should be preserved as an historic place—including full filing cabinets, kitchen cupboards, clothes closets and hatboxes.

With designer names and actual receipts from top milliners of the 20th century, Anna’s hat collection is a fashion statement that speaks to this day, and says a lot about a lady who accepted practically nothing but the best.

Anna Leialoha Lindsey Perry-Fiske was the great-great granddaughter of James and Kaipukai Fay, who purchased the property in 1859. She took over the ranch in 1939 when her father, William M.S. Lindsey, passed away, and she began to bring it back from the brink of bankruptcy. A winning jockey, teacher of horsemanship and master pa’u rider, she and second husband Lyman Perry introduced Brahma and Charolais breeds to the stock, and worked hard to make them thrive. The couple helped establish Anna Ranch as somewhat of a social center for Waimea, hosting lavish parties, charity auctions and an annual “Old Hawaii on Horseback” pageant.

“I just find this fascinating,” said volunteer docent Barbara Sterne of Kawaihae, as she tours through the home.

“When you read her book, you can add things in,” she said, referring to “Hawaii’s Incredible Anna” on Perry-Fiske by Ruth M. Tabrah, available at the Anna Ranch gift shop.

Sterne, a former home economics teacher and nutritionist in Pennsylvania, studied clothing textiles in college. “I did my master’s thesis on ‘Fans in the Drexel Historic Costume Collection,’” she said. “I spent hours in the Philadelphia Public Library.” It was natural for her to work with Anna Lindsey Perry-Fiske’s collection.

“There are 27 hats catalogued and we have others, not including cowboy hats,” said Sterne. Cataloging of the hats and thousands of other items was done by Dr. Momi Naughton, her museology students and volunteers in a long-term project several years ago.

In the parlor, stylish felt hats by Miss Bierner, and a white organza “Trikki” creation by Edna Wallace sit atop the piano. On a central table, intricately woven lauhala hats display handmade hat lei, of feathers or small flat shells.

“The shell lei is older,” said Programs Manager Maka Wiggins, indicating a rare red lauhala hat. “It is made on kapa.” Wiggins said that lei papale were originally made on kapa, while newer versions are attached to cloth backing.

“The flat hat may be her mother’s,” said Wiggins. “The green speckles are the color of the house, and she could have helped paint.”

Wiggins, from Kailua, Oahu, studied anthropology in college and has worked as a book editor for Fay Mitchell’s “Living Journals” series.

“I was basically the fly on the wall and I listened and made sure all the Hawaiian words are correct. It’s not our story, it’s their story,” she said.

There are stories in the hats, too. In the dining room, a series of stunning headwear by Ukranian-born designer “Irina Roublon” tells its tale. Roublon was born in 1913, daughter and granddaughter of Imperial Russian generals. Orphaned at age 8 during the Russian Civil War, she miraculously escaped, traveled to America, became an accomplished artist, designer of haute couture and wife of Kostya Taras Belotelkin, a czarist aristocrat. A champion fencer, too, she used crossed foils on her designer labels.

One pale pink gown by Irina Roublon is on display, a shimmering whisp of rhinestones and embroidered circles. In Anna’s office, there’s a brilliantly spangled cowgirl shirt, pants and hat by “Nudie’s of Hollywood,” a designer for Western stars like Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Still stored are glamorous, golden-era fashions from the Royal Hawaiian Hotel gift shop and around the world. “We would love to show more clothes,” said Sterne, “but we need mannequins!”

A non-profit, Anna Ranch depends on volunteers to help share Auntie Anna’s story.

“People feel this is a home,” said Wiggins. “And people connect to that and feel comfortable here.”

Anna Ranch Heritage Center and Discovery Trail are open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with tours at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., at $10 per person. Function spaces are available for weddings, meetings and other special events, which help support their historic programs and Perry-Fiske’s vision.

For more information, or to arrange group tours and function space rentals, visit www.annaranch.org, or call 885-4426.