Couturier Philip Treacy talks Las Vegas, his favorite career moments and how to pick the perfect hat
Philip Treacy is undoubtedly the world’s most famous hat designer. His whimsical hats have crowned the world’s most famously elite—from Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton to Madonna, Victoria Beckham, Lady Gaga and an endless array of supermodels. Every ensemble gets a fantastical twist when paired with one of his couture creations, whether it’s a swarm of butterflies or a garden-inspired floral fascinator. He mixes meticulous craftsmanship, imagination and fanciful array of items (think feathers, satin, silk, crystals, bone) in every piece.
Located on the Fairway Esplanade, Wynn Collection features many of Treacy’s spring/summer collection styles, from sunhats made of finely sewn braid to sport by the pool, to pointed pillbox designs with veils for more formal occasions.
Wearing luxurious hats is a longstanding, traditional part of British culture, but not so much in America. Why do you think that is and has there been a shift in the last few years?
Philip Treacy: The British Royal Family have kept hat wearing alive in the imagination of people all over the world. It's part of English dress and culture, but we have an international audience who are seduced by glamour, and glamour is and will always be attractive to men and women. So glamour is a sort of a good currency to work in, and there is nothing more glamorous than a hat.
You’re one of the few designers that has such a wide customer base, from conservative royals to eccentric, sexy performers. Do you try to make something for everyone in between, or just make what you’re inspired by at the moment and let your customers experiment?
One of the most exciting aspects of my job is that I have an opportunity to influence how people see hats in the 21st century. And that is a very exciting job, because I have a worldwide audience open to seeing hats in a new way. I like the diversity of our customer base. This allows me a creative flexibility.
What do you love about visiting Las Vegas and why was it important for you to have a presence not only in Vegas, but at Wynn?
I love Las Vegas! Las Vegas is about feeling good and it is the entertainment capital of the world.
Hats are also about feeling good and the ultimate moments in our lives. My hats sell in the most beautiful stores in the world. Wynn is one of my personal favorites. It is ultra glamourous—and the whole world shops at Wynn.
Your career spans nearly 30 years. Name one of the biggest or favorite “wow moments?”
It’s exciting to work with strong designers because they let you interpret their style. Some designers are specific, but many designers that I have worked with for a long time give me free rein to design with their collections in mind.
I was summoned to Paris to meet Karl Lagerfeld, chief designer at Chanel. I was 23 and I’d just left school, I didn’t know whether to call him Mr. Lagerfeld or whatever. I was totally intimidated but Issie [Isabella Blow] was exactly herself. She just walked into the house of Chanel and said: “We’d like some tea please.” I went on to design hats for Lagerfeld at Chanel for 10 years. The first hat I designed was the twisted birdcage, photographed by Patrick Demarchelier and worn on the cover of British Vogue by Linda Evangelista. Sarah Jessica Parker at the Met Gala was also very memorable.
When someone is wearing one of your creations, what do you want them to feel and project?
I design hats to enhance the face in a particular way, whether an angled brim sweeping upwards or an elegant flat brim. It’s essential to make the wearer look and feel like a million dollars but remembering to amplify the personality underneath.
You recently launched not one but two additions to your line, men’s and wedding. Why these two and why now?
I have always made hats for men and brides, but we felt like we had to communicate this in a different way for different audiences and publications. A lot of customers see menswear in our boutique’s window and say they didn’t know about it, for example. Also, we have introduced luxury embellishments used exclusively for men and beautiful hand-painted flowers for wedding looks.
Your hats can completely transform an outfit. If someone is new to hats, do you have any tips on how should they go about selecting the right one?
I don’t believe in matching a complete outfit. It is far more interesting to pick out some of the lesser colors in the outfit and make the hat to match. It’s important to be a little adventurous.