Statement from Mayor Bowser on the Passing of Vanilla Beane

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser issued the following statement on the passing of Vanilla Beane. In September, on her 103rd birthday, Mayor Bowser presented Ms. Beane, affectionately known as DC’s Hat Lady, with the Mayor’s Arts Award for Distinguished Honor. Ms. Beane moved to Washington, DC in 1942 and opened her Bené Millinery & Bridal Supplies in 1979.

“Combining grace, elegance, and longevity, Ms. Vanilla Beane embodied Black excellence. Her talents have been on display in our city since I was just a little girl. No matter the occasion or the outfit, whether she was designing for a neighbor or a civil rights icon like Dorothy Height, Ms. Beane always knew how to make the perfect hat. I was honored to celebrate her at this year’s Mayor’s Arts Awards, and now her story is a part of DC’s story. She was DC’s Hat Lady. She was a mother, a grandmother, and a great grandmother. She was an inspiration for generations of Black women and for anyone who ever thought about turning their talent into a business that you love so much you stay at it into your hundreds. Rest in heaven, Ms. Beane. We will miss your beautiful soul and the beauty you brought to this world. Today, we send our love and prayers to Ms. Beane’s family and all who will miss her.”

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