Royal hat-maker behind Princess Beatrice"s Royal Wedding hat feared "head on spike"

Philip Treacy, 51, opened up about the backlash against the distinctive, towering "Pretzel" design he made for Princess Beatrice, worn at the wedding of Kate and Prince William, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Speaking on Radio 4"s Desert Island Discs, he told host Kirsty Young: "There was a moment where I thought I would find myself with my head on a spike outside the Tower of London.

"But it was a very modern hat and modernity is always unusual things."

Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew’s eldest daughter, who will marry in October, was heavily criticised for her outlandish outfit at the Kate and William’s wedding.

Mr Treacy, who has crafted distinctive headwear for the likes of Madonna, Lady Gaga and Grace Jones, said the annual Royal Ascot were like "Christmas" due to the popularity of his designs among a number of high-profile guests.

He also revealed how he believes a fascinator sounds "like a dodgy sex toy".

The Irish milliner, 51, said: ”Royal Ascot makes our year, so last week was Christmas for us.

"People have to wear a hat, they can"t wear an excuse for a hat - that dreaded word fascinator.

"It sounds like a dodgy sex toy. It"s a headband with a floppy flower in it."

Mentored alongside Alexander McQueen by fashion magazine editor Isabella Blow, Mr Treacy has become known for bold designs, but also credits the support of his late father in rural Ireland for his success.

The designer, who has worked for houses such as Ralph Lauren and Givenchy, has said he considers hats to be a symbol of rebellion and has made pieces for the House of Windsor and red-carpet royalty.

Mr Treacy, who was inspired to go into hat making by the weddings he witnessed as a child in a village church, credited the support of his late father, a baker, in rural Ireland for his success.

Recalling making clothes for dolls when he was a child, he said: ”I have come from a very humble background, I have made hats for kings and queens.

“One of the strongest memories I have is being in somebody"s house and my father"s friend saying "don"t you think that"s a little odd, don"t you think it"s a bit strange this child is doing this?"

"And I remember distinctly my father saying: "Whatever makes him happy." It moves me still."

He revealed he would take a sewing thimble with him as his luxury item to the desert island.

The royal hat-maker also spoke candidly to Young about how he has overcome some of the losses in his life with the help of close friend and eccentric collaborator Grace Jones.

He added: ”If you told somebody you were getting advice from Grace Jones they would probably tell you you need your head examined," said Treacy.

"But she actually gives really good advice."

Desert Island Discs is on BBC Radio 4 at 11.15am on Sunday July 8.

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