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Ignatius carries a wide variety of styles for every occasion, including these winter styles in red and camel (top right). (Photo by Megan Parry)
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Hats perfect for a spring garden party. (Photo by Megan Parry)
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This unique style features pointed accents and a flattened bottle cap design. (Photo by Megan Parry)
When you count Katie Ukrop and Daniel Radcliffe as your dream clients, there’s really no better host for your trunk show than Quirk Gallery. (If you didn’t know, Ukrop owns Quirk Gallery + Quirk Hotel, and Radcliffe was the hotel’s recent celeb actor guest.) The gallery hosted an Ignatius Hats trunk show last weekend, and I had a chance to chat with owner Ignatius Creegan on his company’s history, what makes Quirk Gallery special, and the influence of Harry Potter.
Creegan’s millinery journey began in the 1980s, when he began making hats for the theater and indie craft shows right here in Richmond. He’d take the train up to New York City for machines, fabrics and materials but ultimately honed his craft in solitude, “isolated in [his] Richmond hat world."
This is how it went for the first 10 years of Ignatius Hats, until Creegan’s partner, Rod Givens, joined the company in 1995. Suddenly, the business became more organized, productive and profitable. Givens’ skill at trimming enabled the brand to expand to elegant evening designs.
Since then, the duo has achieved major millinery milestones, including a 14-year run at the Smithsonian Craft Show and the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show — two of the most prestigious in the country. They’ve also managed to keep the company's roots in theater, while expanding to television and film.
Speaking of film, Creegan says his ultimate dream is to create a hat-centric Hogwarts right here in Richmond. For the past few years, he’s been hosting a workshop at his Petersburg studio, bringing in talent with the desire to learn millinery; and honestly who wouldn’t want to be sorted into the whimsical house of Ignatius Hats?
And the Ignatius Hats trunk show at the Quirk Gallery was a bit of a magical wonderland itself. With dozens of hats perched jauntily on rack after rack in the gallery, it was a bit of an art experience, trying on toppers and transforming your look with each one. I especially liked the straw hats adorned with the sweet birds and colorful flowers; there’s a spring garden party calling with me as a chapeau-rone.
When I asked what he loved most about having a trunk show at the gallery, Creegan’s response was immediate: “It means I get to work with Katie Ukrop again.” He also has a personal tie to the neighborhood. “I started to make hats a half block away at the old Richmond Dairy back when it was a cheap studio loft space for painters, sculptors and musicians. I feel right at home.”
Creegan says he loves doing shows at galleries and museums because they are inspiring and dynamic places of learning now — a far cry from the hushed, uptight vibe he remembers from visiting galleries growing up. Be sure to check out the next Ignatius trunk show at the VMFA gift shop March 11-13.