A heady al­lure

Los Angeles Times - - P10 - BY ALENE DAW­SON im­age@la­times.com

Hat designer Philip Treacy is fa­mous for his sculp­tural cre­ations worn by Bri­tish roy­als, in­clud­ing Catherine, Duchess of Cam­bridge, and Princess Beatrice. Other clients in­clude mu­sic stars Lady Gaga and Madonna, and he’s a fa­vorite of fash­ion la­bels Vic­to­ria Beckham, Alexander McQueen and Chanel. This year, he col­lab­o­rated with MAC Cos­met­ics on a col­lec­tion of makeup for eyes, lips or cheek­bones in­spired by three of his hats (mac­cos­met­ics.com, $16-$35). We talked to him about his inf lu­ences and how to “dec­o­rate your head.”

In ad­di­tion to be­ing worn by Bri­tish aris­to­crats, your de­signs have also been seen on Amer­i­can celebri­ties, in­clud­ing ac­tors.

I am re­ally in­spired by early Hol­ly­wood. Is it the mys­tery, the in­trigue hats cre­ated in early Hol­ly­wood black-and-white films?

Yes. Well, you know, Hol­ly­wood in­vented our per­cep­tion of glam­our. They knew all the tricks to make peo­ple look glam­orous and beau­ti­ful. So the beauty in­dus­try has early Hol­ly­wood to be grate­ful to. What spe­cific ways did early Hol­ly­wood in­form your hat mak­ing? For in­stance, from my un­der­stand­ing, celebri­ties would use hats even as anti-agers to veil wrin­kles.

Sure, you know, light­ing de­sign­ers in early Hol­ly­wood who worked on the movies, they knew how to light hats. All that kind of mys­tery, and drama, and beauty they por­trayed on­screen was ex­cep­tional. [Early Hol­ly­wood] wasn’t afraid of shad­ows and dark­ness. It was much more in­ter­est­ing and much more cin­e­matic, don’t you think? …

Mar­lene Di­et­rich did so much for the beauty in­dus­try. She taught peo­ple how to look good and how to sort of wear clothes, and hats, and makeup. Makeup was cru­cial to early Hol­ly­wood be­cause it helped in the illusion busi­ness and that’s what Hol­ly­wood was about — cre­at­ing beau­ti­ful images and beauty. All those kind of Clarence Sin­clair Bull images, was he MGM’s pho­tog­ra­pher?

Yes.

He and the other Hol­ly­wood pho­tog­ra­phers at the time, they changed makeup and gave the world their per­cep­tion of beauty, and, boy, did it work. It made th­ese peo­ple leg­ends and icons. I mean there are con­tem­po­rary icons who use that in the same way, like maybe Madonna, how she has her­self pho­tographed, and other en­ter­tain­ers, but early Hol­ly­wood re­ally was the birth of all that… I was very in­flu­enced by all those ma­jor Hol­ly­wood stars from that era be­cause they knew how to wear hats. They them­selves were masters of illusion. So they used hats to make them­selves look in­cred­i­ble, which is the point of a hat or the point of makeup, re­ally. Th­ese hats in the MAC col­lab­o­ra­tion, what came first, the makeup or the hats? The hats came first, and the sil­ver hat is my ver­sion of a very fa­mous Garbo im­age from when she was mak­ing “Mata Hari.” It’s one of my fa­vorite hats in the world ever. I made my ver­sion of that hat us­ing rapid pro­to­typ­ing, like 3-D print­ing. So ba­si­cally, I made the shape and then I scanned the shape into the com­puter, and then re­fined it on the com­puter. It’s an amaz­ing tech­nique. It’s like “Star Trek”.... The hats brought about the beau­ti­ful makeup colors. Were the hats made specif­i­cally for the MAC col­lab­o­ra­tion?

Some were [from the ar­chives], but the black piece I made es­pe­cially for the shoot. I wanted some­thing to high­light the eye. You look at the piece, but all you re­ally look at is the eye and how beau­ti­ful Val Gar­land’s makeup is, who did the makeup on that day. Each [hat] was cho­sen to ac­cen­tu­ate the cheek­bones, or the lips, or the eyes. What hats look best on dif­fer­ent face shapes? For ex­am­ple, if you have a round face, what shape of hat looks best on you?

I don’t know the an­swer to that be­cause a big part of the suc­cess of a hat on some­body is its sym­pa­thy to the per­son­al­ity of the per­son. So it’s very dif­fi­cult to gen­er­al­ize.

Ev­ery hat has its own per­son­al­ity and it’s the com­bi­na­tion of the hat and the per­son­al­ity of the per­son that makes the hat great…. A hat is a kind of prop to ac­cen­tu­ate your best fea­tures. When peo­ple try hats on at my stu­dio, it’s im­por­tant we try lots and lots of dif­fer­ent hats on. I can tell im­me­di­ately what is the best one. You see a lot of mil­len­ni­als wear­ing hats, at least in the States, par­tic­u­larly ca­sual-style hats. Cer­tain re­gions and groups in the U.S. have a hat-wear­ing tra­di­tion. Where do you think hats in Amer­ica are headed?

Peo­ple do re­ally wear hats, even in Amer­ica. I have a fan­tas­tic au­di­ence in Amer­ica for my hats. So when I travel in Amer­ica work­ing with the stores I work with, like Neiman Mar­cus or Saks, the women love the hats but keep say­ing, “I wish we had some­where to go in them.”

Peo­ple since the be­gin­ning of time, they’ve al­ways dec­o­rated their heads in some way and al­ways will.... The hat is the ul­ti­mate glam­our ac­ces­sory.... I’m just try­ing to preach it to peo­ple of the world.

Philip Treacy / MAC

THREE TREACY HATS that in­spired the MAC col­lec­tion, clock­wise from top: An Art Deco-inf lu­enced piece high­lights the cheek­bones; a pink and green hat calls at­ten­tion to the lips; and a black lace mask frames the eyes.

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