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Style Evolution: Philip Treacy

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What do Meghan Markle and Carrie Bradshaw have in common? Apart from being everyone’s favorite fashionistas, they both are avid wearers of Philip Treacy’s rebellious couture hats.

From Isabella Blow to Princess Beatrice, here’s a brief history of Treacy’s work:

The 1997 Dress of the Year

The Dress of the Year is an annual fashion award given out by the Fashion Museum Bath since 1963. The award is given from a poll of fashion journalist who vote on a dress or outfit that best represents the new fashion trends of that current year. In 1997, Isabella Blow, who was an English magazine editor, needed a gorgeous headpiece to pair with Deborah Milner’s purple fur coat as part of her selection. The rest, as they say, is history.

In 1997, Philip Treacy was sharing a studio with Deborah Milner and was looking for the first big gig that would launch his career to fashion stardom. Along came Blow, an acclaimed style icon, to make him a part of her legacy. The two have been inseparable ever since, up until her early death in 2007.

Philip Treacy’s Designs at the Royal Wedding

Throughout their close relationship, Isabella Blow introduced Philip Treacy to legendary designer, Karl Lagerfeld. Philip Treacy’s collaboration with Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld opened many doors for the milliner. Thanks to this decisive meeting, Treacy has gone on to design hats for Alexander McQueen, Givenchy Couture, Valentino, Ralph Lauren, and Donna Karan.

But it wasn’t until 2011 that his name became known to the wider public.

In April of that year, all eyes were on Westminster Abbey in London, where Prince William took Kate Middleton’s hand in royal marriage. Along with Kate’s Alexander McQueen wedding dress, the fashion statement of the event was Princess Beatrice’s bow hat, designed and made by Philip Treacy.

The hat may have gotten some negative press, but it also changed the way we see headwear. “It was an iconic hat in history”, explains Treacy, adding that “It’s one of my favorite hats, it’s changed perceptions of hats all over the world”.

Treacy and the Royal Family

But Treacy’s hat affair with the Royals began long before William and Kate got married. In November 2007, he was awarded an honorary OBE for his services to the British fashion industry by Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Though Irish-born, he has been a part of their courtiers ever since.

“If the royal family decided not to wear hats… then I wouldn’t be sitting here having this conversation with you”, said Treacy to his Tatler interviewer this summer. And indeed, after 36 hats designed for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, Treacy was promoted to an official royal milliner.

Treacy designed over 20 hats for the 2018 wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, including the ones worn by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Kate Middleton, and Oprah Winfrey. A year before that, Meghan Markle chose one of his pieces for her first official royal outing.

The Evolution of Philip Treacy

Today, Philip Treacy’s hats are worn by Beyoncé, Madonna, Selma Hayek, Oprah, Priyanka Chopra, Nicole Kidman, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, and many others. All accolades go to Lady Gaga for introducing Treacy’s fascinators to the world of celebrity haute couture in multiple occasions.

You might remember the wacky silver piece Gaga wore to Grammy’s in 2010 or the famous diamond-studded “lobster hat” she was photographed wearing for her London after-show party that same year.

But there is an elegant, more subtle side to Treacy’s designs too, such as this deep upturn hat in ivory color, or this buntal knot Swarovski headpiece in black, reminiscent of the Prohibition era. From sophisticated disc fascinators to stylish downturn brim hats, a lot of Treacy designs opt for simplicity.

Flirting with the Croissant Clutch

Even when simplified, Philip Treacy’s accessories are still a statement. His clutches, for instance, serve as statement pieces and pair wonderfully with more subdued outfits. The croissant clutch is a perfect example of this exciting juxtaposition between elegance and flamboyancy.

Hats off to Philip Treacy for finding a way to capture this balance.

His creative designs will certainly continue to awe us for many years to come. “We would be disappointed if Lady Gaga was walking around in a tracksuit”, Treacy once said, to which we must add – we wouldn’t be surprised to see one of his fascinators make perfect sense in such a wild ensemble.

If you’re looking for the perfect Philip Treacy statement piece, check out our Philip Treacy selection. Gold Coast Couture is your premier provider of all Philip Treacy hats, fascinators, and clutches.