Stephen Jones: Head Case

Hats are Stephen Jones’ top priority.

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Gareth Pugh, spring 2008.

Photo By Tim Jenkins

Appeared In
Special Issue
WWD Scoop issue 09/29/2008
An adjunct to the exhibition will be a book by Jones and Oriole Cullen, fashion curator at the V&A, with a forward by Galliano.

Jones arrived in London in the mid-Seventies from his hometown of Liverpool, England. The product of private schooling and a middle-class background, he graduated in 1979 from St. Martins School of Art. Originally, Jones apprenticed as a tailor at Lachasse Couture House, but the millinery workshop next door lured him in and he learned his trade under the expert tuition of Shirley Hex, also mentor to Philip Treacy, who, like Jones, became one of Princess Diana’s favorite milliners.

Situated on Great Queen Street since 1995, Jones’ boutique employs the double frontage windows to present his hats as works of art. Within, statuesque white-faced and swan-necked polystyrene busts rise up to show off his colorful and eclectic collections.

According to Jones, a hat is no longer only for formal occasions or for staving off winter chills. It’s an “accessory” that has become the repertoire of fashion.

“People dress for instant reaction, eye candy, the instant effect, and that’s what hats give you,” he explains. “They aren’t about deep meaning or hidden luxury. What you see is what you get.”

“He has an amazing talent for creating very wearable hats, but also of creating the most opulent hats of pure fantasy,” enthuses Dita Von Teese, adding, “He has impeccable taste, and a wonderful way of adjusting the scale of the hat in all the right places so that it’s perfectly suited to the wearer.” For full effect, Jones designs his hats to be viewed from 1 meter (a little more than a yard) away. “They are about intimate detail,” he says.

Galliano is just one designer who relies on Jones to top off his catwalk creations. Rei Kawakubo, the elusive Comme des Garçons designer, adds, “I always look forward to see what surprising creation he comes up with, and he’s a real gentleman, too.” The pair also have collaborated on a perfume, the launch of which coincided with London Fashion Week in September, and will be available exclusively at Dover Street Market. The expansion into perfumery is just another facet of his thriving business. Although Jones has been successful  since the early Eighties in London, it is thanks to the exposure of his name and his prominent designs on the runways of Dior and Marc Jacobs that he has entered the fashion world headfirst. “Sales have gone up in recent years because suddenly designers are making hats an essential ingredient of their look,” Jones says.

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