Fanciful Irish hats to lift your spirits this spring
Race meetings and weddings are on hold, but millinery by Anthony Peto and others still inspires
Multicoloured feathered headpiece by Debbie Fanning €250. debfanning.com. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov
“I am totally amazed at how much Irish ladies love hats,” says Anthony Peto, marking his five years in Dublin’s South Anne Street where his alluring and fanciful hats stop passersby in their tracks.
The London-born chapelier (the French term for a hat-maker), who also has a shop and atelier in Paris, says Dublin business has “way exceeded my expectations” as someone who loves the city and now lives here. (The store is temporarily closed due to coronavirus, but Peto is still taking commissions remotely, details below).
The freewheeling Irish female love of sporting extravagant affairs on their heads has allowed his latest collection to be even more flamboyant and colourful than usual. Most of his business in Paris is for weddings. French women, he says, tend to worry more for such occasions about what others will think about their headgear for such occasions.
“When I started [in Dublin] I had not realised the Irish love of hats and I felt that it would be more men’s styles for women that would be popular. And now when there is a general dampness of mood, we need things that uplift the spirits and to hell with it – and a nice hat does just that.”
Flowers made from Japanese ribbons are used for decoration this season “as big and as exuberant as possible often covering the whole hat because I like to play around with scale – so crowns are often bigger than they should be which looks more original and interesting and has spirit. It’s all about scale and colour.”
Other Irish milliners are thriving too – there are 34 in the Council of Irish Fashion Designers, among them Deb Fanning, Aoife Harrison, FAO Millinery, Ashleigh Myles and Aoife Kirwan. “It’s more clue and less glue,” according to its chairman, Eddie Shanahan. “They are clued into design and craftmanship now whereas about 10 years ago millinery was very much driven by hobbyists, driven by sinamay and glue.”
Racing events both here and in the UK have driven most of their business, as they have done for Anthony Peto, as well as summer weddings and graduations. Such gatherings, like everything else - cancelled race meetings, cancelled weddings - are at the moment on hold, but the sight of these fun and fanciful creations can lift the spirits. When this crisis is over, people may remember - and support - the small Irish fashion designers and others who made them.
For more information or commissions, email firstname.lastname@example.org