Master milliner Stephen Jones celebrated the launch of his book Souvenirs last night in London; a chronicle of his meteoric rise in fashion, including the designer’s sketches, personal photographs and archival runway memorabilia. US Vogue’s Grace Coddington penned the foreword of the book, writing: “I have a real love for the way Stephen’s mind works—there is such happiness in his millinery genius.”
Jones’ career spans over forty years, from his start at Central Saint Martins college, London, to commissions for fashion houses such as Christian Dior, Rei Kawakubo and Vivienne Westwood. Vogue Arabia talks to the designer about his new tome, how to wear statement hats, and what the Middle East’s Vogue edition spells for the future of fashion.
“It means that some of the most fashionable clothes-wearers in the world have something to unite them,” says Jones of Vogue Arabia’s launch. “Arab people are the most international people in the world, and I think Vogue Arabia will join them together, actually,” adds Jones. “I’ve always loved the mixture of Western and Arabic fashion; the result is an extraordinary thing. It can have the youthfulness of Western fashion with the elegance and the grandeur of Arabic fashion.”
Naturally, the soirée attracted London’s hat aficionados. Jones shared his insights on how to wear statement headpieces, explaining: “The secret is confidence. The hat will [create it] for you. The hat can do the work, and you can just relax underneath it.”
The British milliner also opened up about the concept behind his book. “Souvenirs is about the past; when you are a milliner, you are always thinking about the past, and a way to build the future on it,” says Jones. “We all come from somewhere, and we all want to go to the big city to invent a new self. Whether you are growing up in Liverpool and are going to London, or whether you are growing up in a small town and are going to Riyadh… we always want to go somewhere else to express ourselves.”
With an impressive CV that reads like a who’s who of the fashion world––Jones is a long-term collaborator with John Galliano––does the milliner have a favorite career highlight? “Receiving the Order of the British Empire from the Queen? Maybe. Is it meeting John Galliano and having hats on the runway at Paris? Maybe. Having a first cover on a glossy magazine, which was Tatler with Michael Roberts? Maybe,” teases Jones. “But my career highlight, because it’s fashion, and it’s this crazy thing we do, is always the thing I am going to be doing in six months’ time, because we always have to reinvent ourselves. My career highlight is still to come.”
Stephen Jones: Souvenirs by Susannah Frankel with Stephen Jones, Rizzoli New York. Available now: US $118; AED/SAR 442.