Vanilla Beane, DC's famed 'hat lady,' dies at 103

The nation's capital is remembering Vanilla Beane – D.C.'s famous 'hat lady' – who passed away at 103 years old.

The centenarian moved to D.C. in 1942 and was well known across the District for her love of hats and fashion. Her store, Bené Millinery & Bridal Supplies, opened in 1979 and was a staple of her northwest D.C. neighborhood.

Beane's creations were frequently displayed at exhibits in D.C. and were showcased at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

But perhaps what Beane's creations are most famous for were adorning the head of civil rights pioneer Dorothy Height – an accomplishment that was noted by former President Barack Obama.

In 2019 - just before her 100th birthday - Beane spoke with FOX 5's Angie Goff and told her "hard work" was the secret to her long life.

In September, on her 103rd birthday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser presented Beane with the Mayor's Arts Award for Distinguished Honor.

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Vanilla Beane, DC's famed 'hat lady,' dies at 103

"Combining grace, elegance, and longevity, Ms. Vanilla Beane embodied Black excellence," Bowser said in a statement following her death. "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."