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Phillip Treacy

Updated on June 14, 2013

The Royal Hat Designer

One of the hottest hat makers around at the moment is Londoner, Philip Treacy...milliner to royals, celebritries and other miscellaneous society ladies. Recipient of an honorary OBE for services to the British fashion industry, it's estimated that he designed around forty hats for guests at the Royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton - including the canary yellow hat sported by the Queen. Among others, Treacy also designed the hat for Camilla-Parker Bowles, the stepmother of the groom, mother of the bride Carol Middleton and first cousins to the groom, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice (though he may not want to claim credit for that one).

A clutch of colourful butterflies resting on a models head. Hat by Philip Treacy
A clutch of colourful butterflies resting on a models head. Hat by Philip Treacy
A hatters muse...Isabella Snow
A hatters muse...Isabella Snow

Philip Treacy Bio

Treacy has made quite a name for himself and has come along way from his humble origins in a small village in County Galway in the West of Ireland, where he was brought up among one sister and seven brothers.

The Treacy house was opposite a church and according to the hatmaker himself, whenever there was a wedding there, he loved to watch the guests in their finery, perhaps day dreaming that one day they might wear on their heads the hats he would design himself.

An aspiring seamster, Treacy began sewing from a young age and had himself transferred from woodwork classes in school, to the sewing class. He used to make clothes for his sister's dolls and although he wasn't at all interested in the dolls themselves...only their function as mini clothes horses.

Clearly a natural born designer, in 1985 Treacy made the move to Dublin to study fashion at the National College of Arts and Design. In the beginning, he only made hats 'to go with outfits'but found he was increasingly enjoying designing the hats rather than the clothes. However, the decicision to focus on hats exclusively was a practical decision. having been offered a placed on the MA fashion course at the Royal College of the Arts, Treacy knew they were opening a hat course and saw an opportunityto specialise. In between studies, he trained with London hat designer Stephen Jones.

Treacy's first big break came when he took a hat to the fashion editor of Tatler magazine - Isabella Blow. The editor so liked his work that she decided on the spot he should make all the hats for her upcoming wedding. Blow became a significant figure in treacy's life and career and from this association, he grew bigger and better, winning awards and setting up his own studio. Treacy had made the necessary entrée into the rarefied world of high fashion and from there he moved into the upper social strata of celebrity and aristocracy.When asked what role Isabeella Blow played in his career, Treacy gave the following reply:

She was my best friend, great friend. She was the funniest person I have ever met. Most fashion people are uptight about how impprtant they are. She was hillarious, highly cultured, exquiste taste and very encouraging to me, to Alexander McQueen, she invented our careers. We were a double act, I made the hats and she wore them.

The Treacy Philosophy

Much of Treacy's phenomenal success can be put down to his individuality; he has followed his own avant garde design path and not attempted to emulate anyone else. His basic philosophy is to be a trend setter, not a follower. Summing up this perspective in an interview at a hat show at the Victoria and Albert museum, Treacy said:

People who have their own point of view have more success...because the world is full of copiers and there are few originals.

Phillip Treacy with Camilla
Phillip Treacy with Camilla


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