Hat-Maker Philip Treacy's Favorite Hat, And Many More

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Philip Treacy
Philip Treacy

by Kevin Davies

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In 2011, Irish milliner Philip Treacy made waves across the world when he designed 36 different hats for the royal wedding. Remember Princess Beatrice's unforgettable hat? Treacy made that.

Treacy was born in County Galway, Ireland, in a rural village of about 500 people. He was one of eight children. His father was a baker, his mother a homemaker. Although it was certainly uncommon for young Irish boys at the time, he tells NPR's Jacki Lyden, he was interested in fashion from a very young age.

"I was just, as a child, very different from the others, and didn't really care what they thought because you know, a child doesn't really have inhibitions, you sort of gain your inhibitions later," says Treacy, who used feathers from his mother's chickens in his earliest designs. "But I was interested in everything that everybody was not interested in."

He and his hats are the subject of a new book by photographer Kevin Davies, Philip Treacy by Kevin Davies.


Interview Highlights

On what a hat fitting with him is like

"When people come and visit me and have a hat made, it's a little bit like visiting a psychiatrist, but they don't actually realize that."

On one particular hat he loves

"America brought us the baseball cap; it's one of my favorite hats."

On how hat-wearing has evolved

"You know, hats have changed meaning, at one time hats were a conformist accessory — when you conformed — and now they're an accessory of rebellion. So that's why young people are attracted to the quirkiness of a hat because they like to be interested in something or wear something that their parents aren't interested in."

On designing hats for the royal wedding

"What was exciting about this event was it was real people, it wasn't models. And everybody was going to the same event so it was like approaching a military operation, so that nobody wore the same hat, nobody had the same color, nobody had the same styling, and it was an infectious experience because everybody was very excited. It was the biggest, greatest show on Earth that day."

On one person he's never made a hat for

"The only person I never made a hat for was my mother because my mother didn't really — she preferred to make her own hats. I mean, she was intrigued by everything, but she didn't want one of my hats. She made her own."

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