We caught up with Priscilla Royer, Creative Director of Maison Michel, on the occasion that she was in Singapore at Pedder on Scotts last month to celebrate the La Commedia dell’Arte Collection.
A graduate of London’s Central Saint Martins and former designer with Vivienne Westwood’s Red Label, French fashion designer Priscilla Royer has been turning heads since she became Maison Michel’s artistic director in 2015.
Curatedition: Three sentences for you to complete. First up, “Hats are…”
Royer: “… are a reflection of your personality, or mood of the day.”
Curatedition: “Hats can…”
Royer: “… can give you power, such as confidence or self love.”
Curatedition: “A good hat should…”
Royer: “… support your moves and be flexible & functional.”
Curatedition: What’s your personal hat collection like?
Royer: “One hat per side of my personality, a lot”
Curatedition: How does a woman go about starting a hat collection, in terms of the essential styles to own, and what would suit her facial features, sense of personal style, and the occasion?
Royer: “The best advice I can give to place yourself in the mirror and try as many hats as possible in a very short time, just like sunglasses and spectacles… once you stop laughing, it’s when you’ve actually found the shape that give you style, and confidence. If it’s too scary, then you should start by trying our timeless shapes, a fedora is the most generic shape. Then you can look at what attracts you the most in terms of colors and shapes. The rest is about details. You make the hat, not the other way around.”
Curatedition: You joined Maison Michel in 2015, without background in hatmaking. How did you go about learning more about hatmaking? How do you keep in mind the maison’s 82 year history of craftsmanship, the evolution of fashion, as well as what today’s consumers want? What would you say makes a Maison Michel hat stand out from others?
Royer: “I am focused on the sociology side of hats. The craftsmen and experts are my support like an old tree I could lean on. We discuss a lot about the process so that my ideas are anchored in reality. The history of hats is full of social codes, I am trying to mix them up so that style and lifestyle become the main concern. Maison Michel hats are as impeccable outside and inside, the quality of our craft is our common goal.”
Curatedition: How are the hats created by Maison Michel for Chanel, different from Maison Michel’s hats? And how much does Karl Lagerfeld get involved with the creative process for the making of Chanel hats?
Royer: “When I work with Chanel, my mindset is different, I am here to support their ideas and bring the technical aspects. I am basically the bridge between the studio and the experts, making sure Chanel gets what they have in mind. KL has ideas and draws sketches, I translate the 2D sketch into a 3D hat.”
Curatedition: What’s a typical work week like for you? How big is your team, and what’s your office/atelier like?
Royer: “I don’t have a single day that looks like one another… I am constantly evolving around the different department: atelier, commercial, press, digital, visual merchandising… The atelier is about 12 people and Maison Michel has the size of a start up company, which is around 35 people. It’s the house of the mad hatter: hats everywhere , materials, scissors, ribbons, wooden shapes …. It’s organized but all reachable just by looking around.”
All images courtesy of Maison Michel. Featured collection: Hats On The Go.