My Week: Philip Treacy - Hat Designer

Daisy Price
Saturday 19 June 1999 00:02


I cook lunch of boiled bacon for friends, Sheila Brown and Nick Hosker. I come from Galway in West Ireland where this is traditional. I'm not a fantastic cook, and it's half an hour late, but at least it's edible. It's a beautiful day and we decide to go for a walk in Hyde Park. We take Mr Pig, my Jack Russell dog.

The evening is spent in my studio preparing for Ascot. It's the biggest week in my year. I have been working on new designs for the last four months, creating hundreds of hats.


Customers start arriving to collect hats at around 10am. Mr Pig acts as our doorman. He thinks that he owns the studio and observes everyone with suspicion. Even supermodels and royals have to meet his approval. I treat everyone the same, whether they are spending pounds 300 or pounds 1,000.

A lady comes to buy a hat under strict instructions from her husband. He says that it must be small - he's fed up with getting poked in the eye every year. I show her some smaller designs, but she's not impressed and settles for one of the largest hats we have. Vanity wins and her husband will have to suffer another year with sore eyes. I get lunch from the local sandwich shop.

I head to the Groucho Club to see my friend's exhibition. Then I go back to the studio. It feels like Christmas Eve. I stay up all night with Mr Pig, making hats. I listen to techno music while I work. Techno is great; it's modern and very visual. I'm too excited to be tired, but I don't find myself bursting into breakdancing at five in the morning.


Up at noon, and back to the studio. I manage to sell someone else's hat by mistake because it's so busy. I promise to make the disappointed customer another one by tomorrow.

In today's papers, there is a photograph of the designer Isabell Kristensen with my boa constrictor hat. She looks very stylish and sophisticated. I don't pay that much attention to press coverage, it's not the most important thing for me, although it is nice. I'm more concerned that the customer is happy.

Sophie Anderton arrives to buy a beautiful fuchsia-pink sliced hat. It's worn at a very unusual angle - it partly covers her face to accentuate the silhouette of her profile. She has a beautiful profile.

I continue to work until about six in the morning. Mr Pig sleeps through the thumping techno beat.


More clients arrive to buy hats for Ladies Day tomorrow. This is the most dangerous day for wild hats. It worries me when customers ask for outrageous designs. I always change their mind by making a beautiful hat. Ascot hats shouldn't be tacky. People should look beautiful in my hats, not stupid.

I have egg and chips for lunch. Afterwards, I meet with Katie England from Givenchy, to discuss the hats for Givenchy haute couture. I buy a few bottles of champagne to celebrate the imminent end of a traumatic schedule. We don't get drunk, but are happy that things have gone so well.


Start work on my Spring-Summer 2000 range. It's non-stop at this time of year. My friend Anthony Price calls me. He's watching Ascot on Sky TV. He's surprised that I'm not watching.

A customer arrives; she's going to Sophie Rhys-Jones and Prince Edward's wedding. She's confused about Sophie's no-hat policy. I don't want to come across as bitter and twisted, as everyone is entitled to their own choice, but... if the royals start ruling out hats, it is negating the whole industry. Hats will always be associated with the Royal Family. A royal wedding without hats is like Christmas without Santa. I suggest the customer wears a feather hair decoration.


I work on developing my new accessory range. Then catch a flight to Provence to visit a friend. I've never been to the South of France and am looking forward to trying to relax. It's difficult, though, after the adrenaline of creativity. It's been exhilarating making people happy by creating their dream hat. I'm not airy-fairy. Designing hats is just what I do.

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