muse: a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist
This is the first of my short features on other milliners - past and present - whom I admire for their craftsmanship, creativity, or material and technological innovation.
Stephen Jones opened his first hat shop in London's Covent Garden in 1980. From those early days to the present, he has counted both rock stars and royalty among his clientele. He has collaborated with fashion and costume designers to create memorable millinery for the runway and screen. I admire Stephen Jones for his versatility and modernity: his hats are whimsical, bold, fantastical, and beautifully executed.
‘A hat makes clothing identifiable, dramatic and, most importantly, fashion … It’s the cherry on the cake, the dot on the ‘i’, the exclamation mark, the fashion focus. Everyone from showgirls to dictators knows that by wearing a hat they will be centre of attention.’ ~ Stephen Jones
I think this is one of my all-time favorite hats, a top hat rendered in printed cotton with silk yarn and a steel bodkin. It is from his SS18 collection that plays with themes of inspiration, creation, salon and client: the life-cycle of a hat. It is named "Sewing."
"Sewing" top hat, inspired by a spool of thread
Last year's model millinery collection was inspired by imaginary collaborations with couture designers of the past: Adrian, Charles James, Christian Dior, Coco Chanel, Cristobal Balenciaga, Elsa Schiaparelli, Madeleine Vionnet and others.
Some of Stephen Jones' most imaginative creations have resulted from real-life collaborations with fashion designers. He has worked with Christian Dior, Marc Jacobs, Thom Browne, Rei Kawakubo, Vivienne Westwood, and Jean Paul Gaultier.
He has made the hats for the House of Dior since the early 1990's, collaborating with Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Bill Gaytten, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri.
"Just as I wouldn't leave the house without a hat, I couldn't do a show without Stephen Jones. He conjures up creations that bring Galliano and Dior shows to life." ~ John Galliano
Stephen Jones with John Galliano for Dior Haute Couture, 2007-8
Stephen Jones with Raf Simons for Dior Haute Couture, 2012
Stephen Jones with Maria Grazia Chiuri for Dior Haute Couture, 2018
Here's a few more examples of designer collaborations - it's honestly hard to choose!
Stephen Jones for Thom Browne, SS15
Stephen Jones for Thom Brown, SS16
Stephen Jones with Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton, FW12
If you'd like to know more about Stephen Jones and his amazing hats, there are two very good books: Stephen Jones & The Accent of Fashion (ACC Editions, 2010) and Stephen Jones: Souvenirs (Rizzoli, 2016).
There are also some charming online videos, articles and a book related to Hats: An Anthology, an exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum that opened in 2009. Stephen Jones co-curated a brilliant survey of hats from the past 300 years, drawing extensively from the V&A collection and exploring stages in the millinery process.
This is one of the accompanying videos, "Millinery in Action: making a hat in the Stephen Jones workroom." It shows the process of making the blocked buckram top hat pictured below. Enjoy!
Erin O'Connor, wearing "Union Jack" top hat, and Stephen Jones at the opening of the V&A exhibition