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Covent Garden is the heart of London’s theater district, home to the Royal Opera House and street performers, and where King Charles II met Nell Gwyn. A veritable circus of activity and creativity, it’s the ideal setting for iconic milliner Stephen Jones’ atelier and boutique.
Head-to-toe designer dressing may no longer be in vogue, but Jones is divinely happy devoting himself to the apex of that style equation.
“Of course, in a way, you’re not clothing the body, but you are clothing the head,” the designer muses, breaking out into a mischievous grin. “And I’m sorry, Manolo [Blahnik], but you know the head is the most important part of the body.”
Apologies also must go out to the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs and Miuccia Prada. “Being a milliner is the most glorious thing you could possibly be,” Jones declares. “It’s just fabulous. Much better than being a dress designer, I think. It’s the cherry on the cake.”
London’s Victoria and Albert Museum would seem to agree as it gears up for the first major exhibition devoted to headwear to be held in the U.K. Three years in the planning, “Hats: An Anthology,” which runs February 25 to May 10, is a curatorial collaboration between the museum and Jones, and will illustrate hat design and headpieces from Egyptian times to the present day, including many hats from Jones’ own archives. The exhibition represents an, ahem, crowning achievement for the designer, who has clocked a quarter of a century in millinery, amassing a devout following of famous and not-sofamous clients, not to mention legions of designers including John Galliano, Vivienne Westwood, Emanuel Ungaro and Marc Jacobs.