|The Vogue History of 20th Century Fashion
Hats: Status, Style, Glamour
The London Fashion Book
'The Vogue History of 20th Century Fashion'
Videos are an essential medium in communicating alternative London fashion and went hand in hand with the promotion of British pop music. Stephen Jones' club style reached the Parisian catwalks partly as a result of the video 'Do You Really Want to Hurt Me', in which Boy George wore a fez he had designed. Jean-Paul Gaultier saw the video and invited Jones to design the hats. The appeal of Stephen Jones' hats was that they were more French than the French, quirkily and arrestingly stylish in their perfected irreverence, following the witty tradition of Schiaparelli.
Jones combined a thorough, classical training with the camp wit of street fashion. His international success was due to his professional expertise and determination, not just his ideas. Jones created custom made extravagances for London club and pop heroes and for royalty; by 1980 he had a stall at the back of PX's shop. Millinery was fashionable again and the almost extinct skills of fine hat making were revived with gusto.
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'Hats: Status, Style, Glamour'
The London milliner Stephen Jones is a surrealist. Born in 1957 he graduated from London's St Martin's School of Art in 1979, and began to make hats for friends. It was at the beginning of that period of creativity and outrageousness that was to make London the centre for wild and iconoclastic fashion ideas. Pop music and clubbing were at the heart of all youthful culture and they had an enormous influence on Jones. He made hats for Boy George, Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran and, by 1980, was sufficiently established to open his own shop. Stephen Jones is possibly the most original milliner working today. His hats echo Schiaparelli's from the 1930s, but are always completely up to the minute in mood. He entirely understands the zeitgeist of the times. In the Fashion Institute of Technology's huge 'Fashion and Surrealism' exhibition of 1987, Jones' hats stood out as having an artistic integrity rare in fashion, holding their own with the work of some of the greatest designers of the twentieth century.
© The Royal Mail 19.06.01 / Nick Knight
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Hamish Bowles, Style Editor
With her moulded felt cloche shadowing an eye and pinned with a tremblant diamond cow-parsley sprig, Nadja Auermann, slinking down the stairs of a crumbling Hotel Particulier in Paris for the John Galliano show, defined the fashion moment.
Once again, Stephen Jones, millinery magician, had summoned up the spirit of the day. Jones is a deft conjurer, who can draw whimsy from a hat. Steeped in couture lore and craft, he nevertheless propels his art into the future with his ceaseless invention and thistledown touch.
His genius is to enhance the mystery, allure, wit of the wearer-although a Jones hat might be a dramatic statement in itself, it will never overpower.
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'The London Fashion Book'
The relative calm of Stephen Jones' Covent Garden store belies the mania in the workrooms in the back. At showtime, designers queue up for confections in all imaginable materials to add the finishing touch to their collections. Whether it be a fin de siècle bonnet for Galliano, or an aggressive trilby for Andrew Groves; Jones' ateliers becomes a mish-mash of wild trims and manic assistants.
Amid the hubbub, Jones himself remains tranquil. Since the beginning of the 1980's, when not working with the great and good of fashion he has made hats for everyone, from Madonna (a regular customer) to the Brazilian fruit board and Quaker Oats. Add to that an enormous range of custom made pieces, plus three diffusion lines, and it becomes apparent that the dozen or so hats in the window are just the tip of the millinery iceberg. For those whose only experience of millinery is Cousin Judith's wedding, a typical Stephen Jones hat is more than just a combination of ribbon and straw.
As he puts it: 'I like to think that people regard my work as a treat, more akin to chocolates or perfume than just fashion. A hat should be a pal, because it's befriending your face.'
There's an elegant humour in his work which protects the wearer from looking ridiculous, no matter how outré the design. A typical example is a pull on canvas boating hat, from the Miss Jones diffusion line, on which the delicately printed leaves just happen to be those of the cannabis plant.
'I put it in the collection as a bit of a joke, but none of the buyers recognized it. They just said: 'Oh what a lovely print'.
As is the case with many of his contemporaries from the 1980's, Jones' style has been formed through a fusion of a St. Martins training and in immersion in club culture of the time. 'When I was at college, I did a placement at the Couturier Lachasse, but I was useless at sewing, so they put me to work on the hats; that's how I first became excited by millinery,' he says. With days spent in the atelier, and nights on the town in the company of serious hat wearers such as Boy George, the Stephen Jones style was born out of a combination of traditional techniques and elegant subversiveness.
Jones was and remains, a champion of the eccentric. During his clubbing heyday, he was often seen stepping off the train, dressed as the epitome of the city banker, but with patent stilettos emerging from his immaculate turn-ups. Today he is still the most seminal British milliner. In the land of fashion hyperbole, his publicity records his qualities; idiosyncrasy, spontaneity, modernity and elegant humour - and for once, even the most sceptical critic would have to agree.
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Iain R. Webb, Fashion Director
'FASHION MOMENT - THOSE HATS! Punk-Peruvian titfers are go'
When you think about it, there can't be much that fashion designers - and dressmakers before them - haven't sewn together over the centuries; so how can they possibly continue to astound us? Yet they do. King of the sartorial surprise has to be Brit boy John Galliano, who sees the marvellous in the mundane, the extraordinary in the ordinary. This season we were flabbergasted when we witnessed his collection for Christian Dior, which cobbled together (in the most fabulous way possible) inspirations from all over the globe.
Russia, Bolivia and Peru were just a few of the countries Galliano visited during his whirlwind catwalk show. But ultimately it was a hat (designed for Big G by milliner Stephen Jones) that took our breath away. The reason? It was such a simple idea, why hadn't anyone thought of it before? The headgear in question was an updated version of the Peruvian pull-on knitted hat. With a certain audacious flourish, Galliano and Jones just kept on knitting until the proud coxcomb of colour evolved into a cross between a King's Road punk's mohican and a Roman centurion's plumed helmet. Now why didn't we think of that?
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