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Key Facts on Philip Treacy

Born: 26th May 1967, Ballinasloe, Ireland

Nationality: Irish

Occupation: Hat Designer

Education: National College of Art and Design, Royal College of Art

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10 Reasons to Wear a Hat

Philip Treacy's Fashion Show of Michael Jackson inspired Designs

Process: Stitch

Whether by hand or machine, stitches are the fundamental elements of sewing, knitting, embroidery, crochet and needle lace-making. It's an extremely versatile process with varying degrees of difficulty depending on both the material and stitch used.

All stitches using a sewing needle are made up of a variations of seven basic stitches that are differ according to both the position and direction of the sewing needle as well as the purpose of the stitch and it's shape or form. 

The seven basic stitches are:

  • Running Stitch
  • Backstitch
  • Overcast Stitch
  • Cross Stitch
  • Buttonhole/ Blanket Stitch
  • Chain Stitch
  • Knot Stitch

Here are some examples of variations of the above stitches:

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 On the other hand stitches made by a sewing machine are classified by their structure:

  • Chain Stitch (which is made with one thread)
  • Lockstitch (which is made with of two threads)
  • Overlock (which is made with between one and four threads)
  • Coverstitch (which is made with two or four threads)

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Their are essential tools required for basic stitching which include:

  • Needle and Thread
  • Rotary Cutter
  • Pins and Pincushion
  • Thimble
  • Sewing Guage
  • Seam Ripper
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Tape Measure
  • Rotary Ruler
  • Self Heating Mat
  • Fabric Marker
  • Bobbins

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Several patches of distorted film, applied to ground fabric and machine-stitched freely to intergrate

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Practitioner: Philip Treacy

Philip Treacy is an Irish designer who has been widely credited as changing the perception of the hat, with his designs being popular among European aristocrats and Hollywood royalty such as Kate Middleton, Lady Gaga and Sarah Jessica-Parker. His designs are bold, bright and daring- art in the form of a hat. He continuously speaks of his belief in the individuality of a hat coming from the individual, stating "The personality of the wearer and the hat makes the hat". Therefore Treacy's hat's could be seen as an outward expression of the individuals personality.

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Philip Treacy's main ideas and concepts for his designs stems from his belief that the meaning of hats has changed as they are no longer a symbol of conformity but of rebellion. This belief causes Treacy to create audacious and imaginative designs that have an almost dreamlike and hallucinogenic quality to them. Treacy aims to "make hats that make people dream" thus his work is unique and bold as he deliberately steps away from traditional hat designs.

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Treacy's designs are inevitably very technical and he even compared the art of hat designing and wearing as being "like architecture or mathematics". For this reason I personally view Treacy's work as having the same aesthetic quality as a sculpture, for he deliberately shapes and molds the hat to create certain images, silhouettes and even to accentuate and emphasize certain areas of the hat wearer themselves. Moreover the material Treacy uses is also deliberately chosen and painstakingly thought over as the properties of the hat reflects the character of the hat and personality of it's wearer. He uses material as a way of expressing the meaning he wishes to convey in his work. For example when making his Orchid hats for National Orchid Day Treacy (which can be seen in the video below) wanted to his hats to depict the same elegance and beauty of an orchid itself.

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 To conclude Treacy designs his hat for the wearer and sees the point of hats as being to have fun, to rebel and to express ones personality. It is this belief that drives Treacy's ideas into creating such creative, colourful and original pieces that causes not only the hat to be a work of art but the wearer too. 

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Making of the Philip Treacy Orchid Hats

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Bibliography

  • Philip Treacy by Fondazione Nicola Trussardi
  • Philip Treacy by Kevin Davies
  • AnOther Interview on Philip Treacy
  • The Dynamics on Fashion by Elaine Stone
  • Surfaces for Stitch- Plastics, Films and Fabric by Dwen Hedley
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Quotes from Philip Treacy on hats

"I think and hope I have changed the way we look at hats. They are no longer symbols of conformity but highly individual acts of rebellion. I am constantly challenging the perception of what a hat should be and what role it should play"

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"It's an enigmatic object that serves the human purpose only of beautification and embellishment, and making one feel good, whether you're the observer of the spectacle or the wearer"

"The personality of the wearer and the hat makes the hat. I always design the hat with the wearer in mind, otherwise it's an inanimate object...it's an accessory of rebellion in a way" 

"At one time a hat was a conformist accessory, and today it's a form of rebellion...It's an expression of individuality, and we're becoming more confident and adventurous. Wearing a hat is fun; people have a good time when they're wearing a hat"

"There's a technicality to designing and wearing hats, a hat is balancing the proportions of your face it's like architecture or mathematics" 

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Material: Leather

Today Leather is one of the most vital materials to many industries such as fashion and home furnishing. Not only is it one of the oldest trades leather-making is a highly specialized and time-consuming process.

Leather Processing is long process due the time needed to tan leather. It takes up to 3-6 months to tan hides for sole leather and saddlery. Kips and skins take less time to tan but the processe are more numerous and require both expensive equipment and highly trained labor.

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The Tanning Process:

The tanning process can use either minerals,vegetable materials, oils and chemicals. They  can be used either alone or in combination. The choice on the tanning agent depends on the desired end product for which the leather is being prepared.

Minerals:

  • Method: There are two tanning methods that use minerals. One uses alum and the other uses chrome salt. Alum is rarely used today but was once used by the Ancient Egyptians to make writing paper. Chrome tanning is a fast method that takes hours rather than weeks.
  • Material Properties: Chrome tanning creates a pale blue-gray colour in the center of the cut edge. It is slippery when wet and is usually washable. 

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Vegetable Materials:

  • Method: It uses tannic acids that naturally occurs in the bark wood or nuts of various trees and shrubs and in tea leaves. It is the slowest tanning method taking months to complete and is used for the tanning of cow, steer, horse and buffalo hides.
  • Material Properties: The leather is heavy and often relatively stiff. It has a dark center streak in the cut edge as well as being resistant to moisture.

Oil:

  • Method: A fish oil (usually codfish) is used in this process.
  • Material Properties: The leather is relatively soft and pliable.

Chemicals:

  • Method: The process relies mainly on formaldehyde and is the quickest and most reliable method.
  • Material Properties: The processing causes the leather to turn white and therefore it can be easily dyed. It is also washable.

Finishing:

The finishing process is what gives the desired thickness, moisture, colour and aesthetic appeal to leather. For example dyed leather is sometimes finished with oils and fats in order to ensure softness, strength or to waterproof it. Special colour effects can also be included in the finishing process which includes sponging,stenciling,spraying or tie dying. Further finishes include matte, luster or pearl, suede and patent or metallic.

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Leather in Fashion

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Rainbow Leather

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