photography by shaniqwa jarvis
Interview by brooke rutherford
LFW The Daily chats to magical milliner Piers Atkinson in the back of a LFW Mercedes-Benz. Only the best will do…
BR: Dear Piers, what was your starting point for your A/W 11 collection?
PA: I was thinking about everybody who comes to this amazing city to make their dreams come true, and how many of us make this dream come true at night: dancers, actors, night creatures. So it became about night life in London. Lots of night-sky colours, midnight navy, bruised purple, street-light sodium orange and a bit of gold. Quite nice.
BR: When you’re designing, what do you work around first, the hat or the outfit?
PA: All my collections start with a character, then I draw. I’ll draw a little beret, then draw ‘Paris’ on top with a big gold pen, and I think, “I’ll do that in neon!” Then I think of how I can translate that into a wearable object. Luckily I have a friend who’s a neon artist, Darren West. My work has to be right for customers, press and myself. So I do a few for pop stars, a few for me, a few for Fenwick’s, then suddenly it’s 40 hats!
BR: What can a hat add to an outfit?
PA: It depends on the outfit. This season I’ve done lots of small hats, I think they’re more wearable. I don’t think we live in a big fluffy-hat era, we’re not Edwardians with maids to dress us. I’ve done a Sixties beret from a block my mum used to use – she’s a milliner. And I like hairbands. You can wear them to work, or to the red carpet, like Paloma Faith.
BR: Tell us about your new collection with Moschino.
We’ve made all these exciting, eccentric, unexpected hats. I’m not going to tell you any more! There’s a lot of colour and glitter, how about that?
BR: If you could be a fictional character who would you be?
PA: Sleeping Beauty. So I can lie in bed all day and my prince will come and kiss me, won’t he?
BR: So what’s your signature?
PA: A sense of humour and wit. I’m not a trained milliner – my background is in theatre and PR and lots of different things. But because my mum is a milliner, I’ve been making hats since I was a baby. So I think I’ve put these unexpected things together. The signature pieces, of course, are the cherries that Paloma Faith, Rihanna and Anna Della Russo have made so fantastic. This season I’ve done them in black and midnight purple to go with the night-life theme. They’re inspired by those wonderful and tacky Eighties posters where you’d have lips and strawberries, lips and cherries.
BR: Are you a fan of chocolate-covered cherries?
PA: This wonderful chocolate company in Hong Kong contacted me and they’re doing these fabulous chocolate-covered cherry hats for this wonderful Chinese pop star! I used to work in a chocolate factory, actually, I’ve done it all. That kind of cured me quite quickly of any chocolate fetish…
BR: Are you a maximalist or a minimalist?
PA: Oh maximalist, I’m afraid. I’ve got lots of different books, pictures, things hanging on the walls, things balancing on top things. I like to sit back and look and get inspired by juxtaposition and colour and information. And when you look out of this Mercedes here, you see all of this wonderful information and colour. Oh yes, it’s great. More is more, in my opinion.
BR: We have a royal wedding coming up and Kate Middleton always wears a hat. What would you design for her?
PA: I’d make something like her: tall, dark, simple and lovely, with flowers. I love flowers and I’ve mixed some with feathers this season. I’d love to do something for her, by the way, that would be amazing. Fingers crossed!
BR: What’s the cheekiest thing you’ve done in the back of a car?
PA: I could do something more risqué on a top of a car rather than in one.
BR: Finally, what’s happening for you at LFW?
PA: I am in a fantastic exhibition here at Headonism, curated by Stephen Jones. And the rest of my collection is on Frith Street above a lovely cafe called Franny’s.
Mercedes-Benz, whose fashionable fleet of cars ensure London Fashion Weekers get around in style, is celebrating its LFW affiliation with the launch of Voices of Fashion, a daily blog with exclusive LFW updates and interviews with the designers who are the voices who define fashion. See voicesoffashion.co.uk