Patricia Underwood was born in Maidenhead, UK in 1948. After college, Patricia briefly worked at Buckingham Palace as a secretary.
In 1967, she moved to New York and took an evening class in millinery at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Then she set up her hat business. Her under-stated creations fit the New York scene, where she works with fashion designers like Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Richard Tyler, Michael Kors and Isaac Mizrahi, who mirror her modernist abstract forms.
Patricia Underwood's hats have been worn in films like Sabrina, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Six Days/Seven Nights, Return to Paradise, Austin Powers, The Imposters, and the Pallbearers. Recording artists R. Kelly and Mariah Carey have used her hats for their music videos and recent tours.
Her hats are in the peranent collections of the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute in New York, the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York and the Philadelphia Art Museum.
Patricia has been honoured with a Coty Award, a CFDA American Accessories Achievement award and the Fashion Group International Entrepreneu of the Year award.
Subtle yet interesting manipulations of traditional hat shapes are characteristic of Underwood's hat designs. She relies completely on shape and proportion rather than ornamentation. Her hats are noted for their Spartan modesty which makes them into sculptures for the head.
She is currently a board member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
Patricia Underwood hats are sold in select department stores and boutiques throughout the United States, Europe, Japan and Australia.
In the middle 1990s she added coordinating scarves, shawls, and gloves to her collection. Her work is mostly ready-to-wear, available through department and specialty stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman, and has her own in-store boutique in the latter. Additionally, Underwood continues to do custom work for a select clientéle and has expanded her horizons into Europe and Japan.
The outstanding characteristic of millinery designer Patricia Under-wood's hats is they are, for the most part, completely unadorned. There are no added trimmings, no flowers, ribbons, or even hatbands on her pieces. The shape and the materials are the statement, they provide all the texture and color she feels is necessary. Underwood works with a variety of traditional millinery materials; various straw braids, fur felts, real fur, and knitted yarns, in addition to more unusual materials such as fake furs and her signature sewn strips of leather and suede. Underwood's hats are designed specifically to work with clothing and to complement it. She strives to avoid overwhelming the wearer, and to avoid crossing the fine line between the flattering and the absurd in millinery. Underwood's strength lies in transforming traditional hat shapes and types and creating new interpretations of these classic forms. The change may be made by the use of an unexpected material, or by her subtle manipulation of the form, giving a familiar shape an entirely new look. By changing the expected relationships between the elements of the hat, the crown, and the brim, Underwood creates modern versions of virtually any forms. Her aesthetic is in concert with the minimalist fashions of designers such as Giorgio Armani and Calvin Klein; she takes the forms we are familiar with and eliminates detail until they are reduced to their essential shape.