— March 11, 2013 —
Unique documentation of men's and women's fashion collections
Eudon Choi A/W13 Photography by Alina NegoitaIllustrator, editor and creative pioneer, Piers Atkinson is a buzz name within millinery, representative of headpieces that combine playful fantasy, wit and charm; historical structures built with modern pop culture references, often with a running thread of sexuality. Atkinson wears most of his creations – “sampling the hat is an experience too” - with signature references including pom-poms, flowers, fruit and plentiful glitter. His headwear supported Eudon Choi’s collection during London Fashion Week, where models wore floral headbands and headscarves as well as constructing leather hair accessories for Lucas Nascimento. Atkinson’s work was also showcased at Headonism, a BFC initiative curated by Stephen Jones.
This season, he has been inspired by the romance and decadence of Art Nouveau, particularly artist Alphonse Mucha. “The girls he painted are so sexy, but in a very sophisticated, demure way,” explains Piers. “He creates a lovely mood.” Atkinson was also drawn to nature, with black-feather headpieces reminiscent of darkened woods, ravens and trickery in traditional fables and fairytale forests. The dark story of Red Riding hood is retold with fedoras, laser-cut acetate and burnt ostrich feathers. “I was thinking about the origins of the Red Riding Hood story. It must have been scary walking through European woods in the days of wolves and no tarmac… the collection describes a character, Winter, as she creeps around the bare woods. She discovers a handsome woodsman and attracted to the heat of his body, lures him to her by disguising herself as her sister, Summer.” The collection has a gothic sincerity that contrasts with previous seasons, while still maintaining the imaginative Atkinson spark recongisable within each hat. Here AnOther speaks with Atkinson about his inspiration, new collection and history with hats.
What inspired a career in millinery?
Nothing! I had a great career teaching illustration at the London College of Fashion and was involved frequently in lots of great fashion projects outside of that. When I made my first collection I did it as a sort of project, hoping that I might get published by style mags like Dazed & Confused or SuperSuper! In fact Nick Knight and Vogue shot my first editorial and that’s when I started getting the phone calls. So the career just happened, it’s a very happy accident.
"I just love flowers (silk for millinery). Nothing is prettier than a woman with flowers in her hair"
What is the first hat you owned?
My grandma Stella, who was 92 this January, knitted us (all of her grandchildren) the most amazing outfits: matching jumpers, scarves and balaclavas. I remember I had a wonderful rust red set with a white line. I loved it!
Where do you find your inspiration?
Really it’s everywhere: life, conversations, exhibitions, looking at plants, walking, rubbish bags, Dalston Market and pound shops; reading books and the history of art. There is so much around us and it is very easy for me to muck around with these objects, opinions, emotions and turn them into a collection. It’s a wonderful thing to do – nothing makes me happier, and it means I get to work with lots of incredible creative people on the way.
What materials have you most used predominantly this season?
Feathers are a big one, and tulle. And I just love flowers (silk for millinery). Nothing is prettier than a woman with flowers in her hair.
Is there any particular anecdote behind any of the hats?
The laser-cut lily headdress is the triumph this season. We worked with an incredible illustrator Yuhi Shimomura, then film maker Elva Rodriguez turned it into a multi-layered vector file, then the laser-cutters did tests and then it arrived like a jigsaw puzzle. We sourced this incredible glue and I stuck it together, I only lost one piece, which the laser cutters happily re-cut for me. It was amazing to see it finished as it looked exactly like my wildest imaginings.
Text by Mhairi Graham