By SASHA SLATER
Royal ridicule: Princess Beatrice (right) and Princess Eugenie arrive at Westminster Abbey in their much-mocked Philip Treacy hats
At street parties the length and breadth of England, we gasped as the royal Rolls pulled up. A vision emerged. No, not Kate Middleton, resplendent in Sarah Burton and diamonds, but Princess Beatrice in her beige pretzel-like headgear.
She was closely followed by her sister in another catastrophic confection: the neat cobalt blue base was perhaps a nod to Carole Middleton’s former career as an air hostess, but the fake rose perched on it was the colour of dried blood.
And it was topped off with what appeared to be a leftover bit of Rod Hull’s Emu. The man responsible for these articles of fashion roadkill is Irish milliner Philip Treacy, who also adorned the Duchess of Cornwall, Victoria Beckham, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson and 31 other wedding guests in his flamboyant creations on the big day.
The mad hatter strikes again: On another occasion, Princess Beatrice, left, puts on a brave face while an angry swarm of butterflies attacks the side of her head. Where’s a royal protection officer when you need one? Meanwhile, an explosion of white feathers on a young girl could look sweet, but the sweep of felt underneath is
harsh and looks like it is sawing Princess Eugenie's head in two, right
Considering Treacy charges around £2,000 for a wisp of straw and a silk camellia, you would think he would make sure they flattered the faces beneath them, but in this very modern case of the Emperor’s new clothes, it appears that women are prepared to pay the blonde son of a Galway baker a fortune for the privilege of being made to look foolish in a fascinator.
LEFT: Is it wise for Tara Palmer-Tomkinson to draw attention toher new nose with this harsh bluearrow which cuts her face in twoand points straight at those cocaine-ravaged nostrils?
If you’re a glamorous, angular model such as Erin O’Connor, you can carry off his most demanding style, but anyone risks ridicule when she tries out a Treacy.
According to one fashion editor, the 43-year-old was ‘a genius when he started out’ in the late Eighties. He was adopted by Isabella Blow, the Tatler style editor who also championed fashion designer Alexander McQueen.
LEFT: What do you get when you cross a small cowpat with a pair of yellow butterflies, a sickly green rose and a clump of brown chicken feathers? No, I don't think SJP knew either.
But these days, respect for Treacy appears to be on the wane: ‘I think he’s not good at all any more,’ shrugs the fashion insider. ‘He’s great with his hands, and good at creating crazy architecture, but his hats go over the top for no reason.’
No doubt this is why the most over-the-top dresser of our age, the U.S. pop star Lady Gaga, is a Treacy fan and has been flirting with doing an unpaid internship with the designer.
If she does, she will learn, according to watchers, that: ‘He sits in his ivory tower and thinks whatever he does, however silly, is brilliant.’
Over-the-top: No wonder Beyonce looks a little nervous posing next to this Frosty The Snowman face-framer. The feathers look sharp enough to take one of her eyes out if Lady Gaga makes any sudden moves.
Bird-brained idea: With pheasant feathers sprouting like angry snakes from a too-small crown, this asymmetric black straw saucer manages to make Jodie Kidd's face look absolutely gigantic. A technically clever hat which, like so many of Treacy's other efforts, doesn't even attempt to make the wearer look pretty
Silliness is something Treacy is familiar with. He admits that, thanks to the poultry his mother kept at home during his childhood, there’s a chicken theme running through his creations.
This at least helps to explain what he did to poor Princess Eugenie’s head. And perhaps it was a shortage of close human collaborators that made him turn his Jack Russell, Mr Pig, into his closest friend.
RIGHT: When you are dressing someone with features as mesmeric as Sophie Dahl's, it is criminal to distract the eye with hundreds of little dots and dashes in front of her face. This hat's wearing her, not the other way round
When the dog died, Treacy held a funeral in his Belgravia home. Grace Jones sang and Kate Moss sent flowers. Every year, the Duchess of Cornwall had sent the dog a Christmas card, and after the surprising wheatsheaf halo he created for her 2005 wedding, Treacy was given an honorary OBE by Prince Charles.
But when the Prince of Wales reflects on what the mad hatter did to his nieces last week, he may be tempted to take back that gong.
Swamped: The Duchess of Cornwall shows off her deportment while balancing an upside-down jellyfish on her head. It's another example of the milliner showing off his skills and forgetting there's a face underneath
Unflattering: Why is Sophie Wessex wearing one of Shrek's molars on her head? In this instance, the pheasant feathers are useful to indicate that this is a hat. The colour is almost deliberately ugly