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Wild Things

Philip Treacy: Chapeaux are some of the great prop devices of the haute couture. Dream-weaving designers use them to enrich their theatre du mode, while more grounded types rely on the feathered or veiled flourish to up the intrigue of real-life...

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Philip Treacy: Chapeaux are some of the great prop devices of the haute couture. Dream-weaving designers use them to enrich their theatre du mode, while more grounded types rely on the feathered or veiled flourish to up the intrigue of real-life clothes.

This story first appeared in the January 24, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Either way, hats are a big part of the fun, so who could blame Philip Treacy for time and again engaging in his own runway escapades? For his show on Wednesday night, Treacy took his cue from his location, Pink Paradise, a strip club off the Champs-Elysées. He served his guests cocktails and semi-dressed his models in little nothings — lots of lacy black undies — the better to showcase those witty millinery concoctions while working the poles a bit, warming them up for the real strippers set to work the next shift.

Treacy started off with a Pop Art moment, but his Campbell’s Soup hat was more than an ode to Andy. It celebrated Naomi Campbell herself, who turned up to wear it. He followed with a Brillo Pad spray and a banana. But just when you thought his whimsy would never leave the kitchen, out came more than a few lips — an almost trend — and a photographic celebrity parade. While Elvis and Fred Astaire danced full-figure atop models’ heads, most other icons merited life-sized faces — Marilyn Monroe, Tina Chow —each chin balanced perfectly on another person’s forehead. (Only Liza Minnelli got the full cap treatment.) Then, in the spirit of bonnet art imitating life, Naomi closed the show in a hat featuring a likeness of Naomi wearing the soup can.

Très amusante? Sure. But if you believe that hats have a validity beyond couture runways and the very limited market of cute, get-away-with–anything London girls — and one assumes Treacy does — why not take so golden an opportunity to make the case? By reveling only in the cartoonish side of millinery charm, Treacy’s shows may be all wit and no wisdom.

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