Philip Treacy

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 October, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 October, 2006, 12:00am

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How it began:

Philip Treacy was born in County Galway, Ireland, in 1967 and grew up near the village church where he would watch weddings, which he later described as 'fashion shows'. At the age of five he began sewing, creating dresses and hats for his sister's dolls.

In 1985, Treacy moved to Dublin to study fashion at the National College of Art & Design. He started creating hats to match his clothing designs and eventually decided to spend six weeks as an apprentice with milliner Stephen Jones.

In 1989, he brought one of his hats to Michael Roberts, then fashion director of Tatler, and his style editor, Isabella Blow. A few weeks later, Blow commissioned him to make a hat for her wedding. Instead of using traditional materials such as tulle, veiling and pearls, Treacy stiffened lace into the shape of a medieval headdress. This marked the beginning of a long creative collaboration.

He met Karl Lagerfeld in 1991 and began a 10-year collaboration with Chanel, designing hats such as a twisted birdcage, photographed by Patrick Demarchelier and worn on the cover of British Vogue by Linda Evangelista. In 1991, Treacy won his first British Fashion Council award as British accessory designer of the year.

In 1993, he staged his first fashion show - with all-black hats - at Harvey Nichols during London Fashion Week. A year later, Treacy opened his own boutique at 69 Elizabeth Street, London, later launching an accessories collection of stingray bags and gloves, geometric and lace-cut leather. In 2000, he showed his orchid collection, the first haute couture show in Paris devoted to hats.

He ventured into other disciplines, applying his sculptural forms as a medium for other objects, such as glasswear and furniture. In 2004, he was named international designer of the year at the China Fashion Awards in Shanghai.

Treacy has also taken part in art exhibitions and wrote a book, When Philip met Isabella, dedicated to friendship with Blow.

In April, Treacy was granted an honorary doctorate by the National University of Ireland.

The look?

The Occasion label is the core of the collection, with hats adorned with ostrich plumes, sequins and Swarovski crystals. For this season, the colours and patterns are psychedelic, with zoomorphic shapes and a woodland feather theme. It also features rich fabrics, such as soft Italian tweed, cashmere and woven lamb angora. The streetwear collection includes a fusion of urban and traditional designs.

Who wears them?

Boy George and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, when she married Prince Charles.

Defining fashion moment?

For his first show in 1993, Naomi Campbell, Yasmin Le Bon and Kate Moss and others modelled in exchange for hats.

Fun fact:

As a child, Treacy wasn't allowed to play with his mother's sewing machine so he'd use it while she was out feeding the chickens.

Where can I get them?

Both hat lines and handbags are available at On Pedder, G/F Wheelock House, Central, tel: 2118 3489; and Lane Crawford, IFC Mall, Central, tel: 2118 3388.