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Fashion: Mad About Hats

2 minute read
Belinda Luscombe

It’s hard to hate hats but easy to feel no need for them. Milliner Philip Treacy understands this. He knows that the hat, unlike, say, the shirt, is an object less of necessity and more of desire. But so deeply does the Irish-born designer love hats that he wants to inspire everyone to dress headfirst. Thus, when Treacy (pronounced Trace-ee) stages a hat show, as he did last week in New York City, there’s nary a beret in sight. Instead, he sent down the runway a variety of head cases that included a Day-Glo blue sea anemone on Viagra, bottom left.

Treacy’s inspirations are tribal, sculptural, futuristic and submarine. If he uses traditional millinery materials like feathers, they may radiate around a silver lace mask, above left. If he uses straw, it is molded into a huge dollop dripping over the face, right. In one gobsmacking moment during his show, a model wearing a hat that echoed a Calder mobile, middle left, turned her head slowly, and the hat wrapped around her face like a veil. The lights went off, and zowie! The horizontal disks glowed in the dark.

It’s pointless to ask Treacy where women are supposed to wear these eccentric chapeaus. The point is to fall in love again with the notion of the hat. “I’m not a crazy designer,” says Treacy. “I just like to excite the eye of people about hats.” Needless to say, a Treacy creation does not come cheap. But maybe you could pass the hat.

–By Belinda Luscombe

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