Parisan hatmaker opens in Dublin

Tony Peto, ‘chapelier’ or hatmaker to the beau monde, is moving to Dublin and opening a shop

A little bit of Paris comes to Dublin next Thursday, November 19th, with the opening on South Anne Street of celebrated hatmaker Tony Peto’s first overseas store.

The British designer, who has lived in Paris for the past 25 years, is well known for his witty, innovative takes on classic shapes such as the trilby and the boater, handmade in contemporary fabrics and colours, for men and women.

His boutique on the rue Tiquetonne, near Les Halles, is a destination for those in love with his headturning styles, including his neighbour and friend, shoemaker Christian Louboutin. Along with a high profile fan base, he has also over the years collaborated with Hermès, Givenchy, Kenzo, Galliano, Gaultier and Balmain.

Peto initially studied law in London but moved in 1987 to Paris, where he got into hatmaking.


"I always wanted to make things with my hands and sell them," says the chapelier when we meet in Dublin. A chapelier, he explains, is a hatmaker, usually male, who makes hat blocks, often using metal blocks – blocking, cutting, sewing and trimming.

A milliner, on the other hand, called a modiste, is a woman making for other women, using fabrics such as sinamay or straw, with feather, veil and other decorative details, a trade which originated with ribbon merchants.

Of Hungarian parentage, he is the nephew of the US-based handbag designer Judith Lieber, known for her decorative minaudières, and whose work is now in museum collections.

Peto’s collection brings a similar distinctive approach to hatmaking. “It’s about structure and shape and the appeal lies in the form and is not based on distracting elements such as flowers – that’s my idea of what is modern.

"Karl Lagerfeld said that millinery is all about meringues on your head and I think all that stuff makes women look out of date," he says.

He has clear ideas of who his customers are. “It is a man in his 30s, 40s, or 50s, intelligent, individualistic, who may wear glasses, works in an artistic profession and has a sense of humour. You can’t tell him what to do. A woman is a wider category. She is fearless, wants something she can wear that is practical and stylish. She travels a lot,” he says.

He maintains that a hat gives its wearer instant charisma. "Mitterand was the last French president to wear a hat. It is like wearing a crown and I think that is why he wore them. People around him were not allowed to do so."

Peto’s shop will contain his full collection for men and women – trilbies “in all their permutations”, berets, bowlers, his signature straw top hats, deerstalkers and aviator helmets based on US and Japanese pilots, now popular with cyclists in Paris. “Not tra la la hats,” he says with a dismissive wave of the hand.

There will be straw panamas in summer, felts and Scottish and Irish tweeds in winter.

He is also coming to live here, though he cites Hemingway’s description of Paris as “a moveable feast – it is always with you”. He loves Dublin because “there is a sense of community here. When I am in Dublin I know where I am. I don’t like London anymore . . . gold-plated Ferraris revving up behind me. I don’t like its sterility.

“As soon as I get off the plane in Dublin I feel excited,” Peto says.

“ I feel I can make a difference here. It is a project that I love. Anywhere else, like Milan, it would be just another retail outlet. I want to get people interested and offer something not here already.”


Clothes by Tommy Hilfiger and Hackett London
Photograph: Johnny McMillan
Stylist - Catherine Condell
Hair and makeup - Leonard Daly