...London's New Mad Hatter
From princesses to pop stars, English milliner Piers Atkinson is making hats happen. Based in his East London home-cum-studio, every nook and cranny of which is filled with feathers, straw berets, veils, crystals and tulle, Atkinson has been crafting hats since before he can remember. His mother, who is also a successful milliner, used to make costume hats for the English National Opera on their kitchen table. Atkinson would sit at her feet and fashion miniature versions of the theatric toppers from discarded scraps and trimmings. The milliner has come a long way since playing on his mum’s floor. After studying fine art, assisting conceptual artist Andrew Logan and being taken under the wing of London’s quirky, pink-haired design icon, Zandra Rhodes, Atkinson launched his eponymous line of hats in 2008. In 2009, his hats were featured in the V&A’s "Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones" (the exhibition is traveling to New York and will be on view at Bards Graduate school from September 14th through April 15th). The hyper-real red cherry hat from his "Sex on the Brain" collection which, available this August at Patricia Fields, was worn by Rihanna in her "S&M" video, helped to put his quaint studio on the map. And since, Atkinson has gone on to create hats out of the most unexpected materials—hair rollers, dismembered Barbie Dolls and neon lights—for the likes of Kelis, Princess Beatrice, Anna Dello Russo and, Lady Gaga.
Fall was all navy and neon lights. That collection was about the nightclubs and people making their fantasies come to life at night because the real world’s a bit boring. I wanted to continue that for spring, and I’m moving that concept into the theatre. It’s a bit more fun. Since last season was dark, I want to put every color into this collection. I’ve been looking at a lot of musicals, and that evolved into Gone with the Wind and a bit of Street Car Named Desire. It’s definitely going to be a little New Orleans, with some voodoo and parrot feathers and straw boaters and things like that... and Zandra Rhodes is giving us one of her amazing prints.