A few weeks ago, I and my entire design team took a class trip to see the incredibly moving retrospective of Alexander McQueen's life's work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and it was a mind-blowing, inspiring experience. Not only was I so moved by his work, but I was reminded how incredible his long time collaborator, the Irish milliner Philip Treacy is.
Recently Treacy has been in the press a lot. Lady Gaga is going to intern with him (yawn), and those two cousins of the Prince looked kinda' silly at the wedding in their hats even though I actually liked them as weird objects. Since Princess Beatrice’s much mocked hat sold recently on ebay for approximately $132,000 and change, I wonder who is having the last laugh actually. Truthfully, I have not given this artist much real thought lately even though he is talked about a lot.
Treacy’s work in the McQueen show is astounding, though. Each hat is a sculpture of radical proportions. To some degree, the hats he creates look better or worse depending on their context, which, of course, is really the people that are wearing them. It’s hard to argue with Naomi Campbell wearing a swarm of butterflies on her head, though, right?! She looks good in anything!
We don’t have a big tradition of hats in this country, and it is uncomfortable for us to embrace the idea of whimsy and surrealism on a person, but if you don’t judge based on what YOU would wear, and just on the sheer artistry of the object, well then, the playing field is entirely different. It’s all about context. All the time.