Philip Treacy's LiveStudio residency

I have been meaning to blog about this for a few weeks now. I was absolutely glued to my computer screen for the whole day on 25 March watching Showstudio's live streaming of  internationally acclaimed milliner and accessory designer Philip Treacy. During his session he answered questions submitted by viewers while creating a unique one-off headpiece, which he described as a 'feathered salad' reminiscent of the Sarah Jessica Parker headpiece she wore for the SATC premiere.  The hat is available to purchase from the SHOWstudio Shop

The streaming was alluring viewing, watching a master at work, it was a fantastic insight into the process of millinery, (although Treacy dislikes that term, he likened it to being described as a florist). The intricate details and the time consuming nature of creating a head-piece was astounding. I adore hats and now after watching the streaming I want to embrace them on occasions other than for a wedding. Strong personalities such as Grace Jones and the amazing Isabella Blow have graced Treacy's creations with pride (he discusses more below). Like most designers Treacy had an arrogance to him which at times came across as slightly disheartening as he would blaspheme at viewers submitted questions that he deemed as stupid or irrelevant. Which seemed slightly out of line as  if you agree to to do a live Q&A surely you have to come to expect to receive the most obvious of questions and of course get many repeated submissions from those who would of just tuned in. The Show Studio staff however dealt with it with grace and professionalism aiming to note down a positive response for each and every question. Yet like most designers bluntness, Treacy was compelling and  it made for intriguing viewing. 

See a selection of questions  that were asked below, including a number of them from myself... 

to view the complete Q&A seesion with the great man himself visit the Live Studio sessions page 

Mr. Treacy carefully cutting the feathers into a range of various shapes for his head-piece.

Do you enjoy creating it with your hands as much as inventing it in your head? Do you separate those processes?
  • the best bit is making the hat.  that's the most exciting part.  the physicality of making is the exciting bit

  • What is the inspiration behind your headpiece today? or is it just a creative process that develops as it goes along?
    a bit of both really.  today, I am making a bit of a feather salad. it's like cooking with different materials. 
    Philip Treacy photographed  Martha Sitwell, wearing Alexander McQueen  featuring one of his iconic hats against a background scene of Ascot opening Day, which was painted by James Pollard and dates back to 1836,  to kick off the action for Royal Ascot 2008.
    Are the months leading up to Royal Ascot a busy time of year for you?
    What do you think?  It's like Christmas for us.

    when did you realize you want to work in fashion and what is your first fashion moment?
    Weddings. Everyone just looked so amazing, like a couture show to a child. But in terms of my first major fahsion moment was designing for Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel, and seeing Linda wearing this bird cage that I had made, that was pretty exciting.

    How did you come about working with lady gaga?
    I was afraid of Lady Gaga, because she reminded me very much of my freind Isabella who had died. When I would see a picture of her I would think it was Isabella. Then Alexander McQueen called me and told me that I had to work with her. She wanted the same hat in three different colours, and I did not have time to make three. But she wore it, and did not take it off for an entire night, so I thought that she was a dedicated follower of fashion. She is young, and very tallented. She is fun and she looks great in hats.

    Yourself and Steven Jones are two of the worlds leading milliners, are you both fiercely competitive?
    No, becauase he does his thing and I do mine, he has his way of working and i have mine. It is better to have lots of hat designers than none. But I do not find it flattering when people copy my hats, all the manufacturers copy my hats. You spend a lot of time and energy and money making something, and somebody comes along and says 'Oh, I like that!'
    Philip discussing about the antique tea box he found in Battersea market (I do believe). He is a found collector and admirer of antiques.  
    • what's the first designer piece that you purchase ?
      A red Claude Montana Jacket

      Obviously you like Andy Warhol very much. What makes you like him? 
      I love Andy Warhol. I have a friend called Lisa, and she introduced me to Andy Warhol in the Library. But I don't have any unfortunately.

      [funny they mention Warhol as do you not think Philip Treacy has a slight look of Andy Warhol?] 

      Considering your views on X Factor etc etc, do you have anything to say about your fellow countrymen Jedward?
      I love them. At least they are entertaining.

      What is the weirdest thing you've put on a hat?
      Dustbin lids for Alexander McQueen.

      My head is massive and I can never find a hat I like that fits. Do you design with head sizes in mind? That head on the table looks awfully small.
      Most people with a long head think they have a big head, but it's just a long head

      • What was your relationship with Isabella Blow? What role did she play in your career?
        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.
      • do you ever feel sometimes that you don't feel like creating hats anymore?

        I do. But I love hats more than anything else. I have a job in a zillion. I am lucky to have this because i have an oportunity to influence how people see hats in the 21st century. The most interesting people wear hats, and they come to me! And its fun, one day Lady Gaga, then Prince Philips wife! or Posh. People trusting me to make somthing for a major moment in their life is amazing. And hats make people look good.

        • Are there any hats you despise? Not designers, more specific styles.
          Stetsons, I hate them. Madonna in a Stetson, I hate that. It's so unauthentic. But i do love stetsons in texas on texans. Its like architecture, but not those tacky cheap ones.

        • Who is Philip Treacy behind all the hat making? What makes you happy?
          I am happy now, and I am making a hat. I am happiest when I am making a hat. Everything else is a nightmare.

          How do you feel when you have made the perfect hat?
          You never make the perfect hat. there is always something that you could do better.

          • Hi Philip and team, how was it working at Chanel?

            Karl Lagerfeld is insane. A brilliant designer, he designed in a very causal way. It was really exciting to work at the House of Chanel, but he made it exciting.
          • Isn't this anonymous question-asking all a bit Blind Date for you?!
          • I am enjoying it so don't get cheeky!

          • When you don't have SHOWstudio and us viewers pestering you, how do you like to work? Do you listen to music (if yes, what kind), have people around to talk to or you prefer the quiet?
            I like very dreamy, techno, house music. Thats the best music to design to because its a visual kind of music. It is exciting.

            Lovely to see you...lovely to hear you..Is there any one you haven't made a hat for yet who you would love to? From Katy England xxxxx
            I love Katy England!
            I can't really think of anybody. The most exciting one recently was Elizabeth Taylor, that was a trip and a half. She was fascinating.

            • Out of all the hats you have desinged for lady gaga what is your favourite?

              I like her telephone hat. Its fun because its made form fabric, technically it was a bit of a nightmare, but it looked good, and it was funny being on her, when she was singing about a telephone!
            • As we all sit here in awe watching you live at work, who would you most love to watch a live streaming of?

            • I would have to think about that..

              Hi Philip. Do you work mostly with feathers, or do you use other materials. If so, wich is the most unconventional material you've used? Carlos, Chile.
              I use every type of material; plastics, glass.  But I like materials that are weightless and light.  And I like high tech materials.  There are many new and modern materials that are exciting.
              what was the first hat that made you thought.....I wanna make hats?

              • Well, what happened is, I was a student, in Dublin at the National College of Art and Design and I had a tutor who I told I had a hat.  I had constructed this old thing out of straw and parts I bought from a junk shop and when I showed it to her she bought it.  So...I thought...there must be something in this.
                Philip with his assistant Mr. Goran who acquired much attention from the viewers

                who is your assistant? a little trimming of hair. HE IS HOT!

                Mr. Goran. He is not really my assistant.  We just hang out a lot.  And we are disciples of Grace Jones.  Mr. Goran is Grace Jones' assistant in actuality.  And she only hires hot guys.

              • Isn't that the same technique you used for Sarah Jessica Parker?
                You're right.  But they thought it was a pineapple.  
                image from MSN lifestyle 
                Where did you go on holiday recently?

                Los Angeles.  We went to the oscars with Grace Jones last week.  I like work and holiday mixed in so that then you're with the locals.  You're not just a tourist.

                To veil, or not to veil? That is the question.
                Veil.  To the floor
                nearly finished 

                do you ever get university students to intern with you, if so how do you apply?
                • Apply to jutta@philiptreacy.co.uk

                  I never wear hats like these. So I really wonder how you fix a hat on a head? by ribbons? by clips? or anything else? Do you invent your own wearing method, or are they traditional ones?

                • I invented my own.  What we do is make a line that goes into a persons hair so that the hat is balancing but so that the line can't be seen. It gives the appearance that the hat is balancing.

                  Any tips, quotes or advice you believe in or live by?
                  Don't be jaded. Jaded is very very boring. Fashion college is full of lots of jaded students, well, they think they are jaded.

                  I'm ensconced in our office down below your feet tapping away at my computer, but I'm very interested to hear your views on one of my favourite people in the world, Mr Antony Price, as you've collaborated with him a great deal. Alex Fury, SHOWstudio.com

                • He is a commedian.  And he is very clever and funny.  He also grew up on a farm, near birds like I did.  And we go to the national chicken championships together.  And he is a brilliant designer.  he can be a bit negative.  I mean he is not a negative person.  He can just be a bit negative in a funny way.

                • hi philip. you have tried your hand at some other things a sports range and interior design. what did you most like about these other mediums? were they more difficult than making hats...what was your motivation and inspiration when it came to these?
                  With interior design its like creating an atmosphere, creating amovie set. And the most exciting thing is spending somebody elses money! In the begining I thought it was some complex meduim, interior design, but its not, it is just taste. Also, its fun! When you go to a hotel these days you want to be transported from your normal boring life. So it has got to be fun.
                  What is the longest amount of time you have taken on one piece of work? Stevie
                  Weeks sometimes. Not on something like this

                  Do you think the term Couture should be in someway protected...so Tesco and Primark can't missuse it
                  Oh no! I love couture at Tesco! I think Primark and Tesco using the word Couture to describe any of their products is a little bit far fetched..

                  When you've made a piece (or two) for Grace Jones, do she have any input in the design or do you just present it to her?
                  She doesn't usually have input into it.  I just give her hats that make her look fabulous.  She is a very good person to work with.  Putting a hat on Grace Jones is like working with living design; she brings it to life. 

                  Cheers from students and faculty here at the School of Fashion Design in Boston!!! We're curious what you think of the live streaming experience? Fishbowl or Forum?
                  I have the kind of wierd sensation of being observed but it's not so in your face as you would in a TV studio. 

                  Image from Daily Mail 

                  Isabella Blow
                  Inexplicable.  It was like having the best fun you've ever had in your entire life, everyday.  She was completly irreverant and didn't suck up to anyone.  She taught me about beautiful things.  There was a journalist asking me really stupid things one day and she told me to simply tell them that I believed in beautiful things which sounds really full on but it's exactly what it's all about. 

                  What are your views on the growing population of the blogging network that is causing controversy at the moment.
                   It's hilarious.  Fashion is entertainment afterall. and kids are approaching it like an art form these days.  Whereas before, the people who should see fashion shows should be the general public.  they wouldn't believe it.  they would love it.
                The completed hat

                All other images via own screen grabs from live streaming

1 comment:

  1. WOW love his work!
    really, you got great information


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