To celebrate the opening of Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones, we caught up with Britain’s legendary milliner. After spending the last two years examining every clothing store imaginable, there isn’t a thing Stephen doesn’t know about headwear!
Topshop: Your first exhibition has just opened at the V&A. How do you feel?
Stephen: Completely exhausted! It’s been amazing. But of course because we’re in Fashion Week – for example, I’m off to Paris tomorrow to show Christian Dior and John Galliano toiles – it’s been non-stop.
Topshop: Are you thrilled with the final result?
Stephen: You know when you’ve been working on something for so long and you can’t really see it anymore? Well it was just like that, but it was bizarre because when I came in the morning after we’d finished, I thought wow, it looks great.
Topshop: And how was the opening party?
Stephen: I loved the fact that it didn’t matter whether you were 16 or 60, everybody was having fun and really expressing themselves. Literally, every single person was wearing a hat which was great.
Topshop: How did you decide which hat to wear?
Stephen: Funnily enough, I thought I wanted something slightly low key because I wanted the exhibition to shine – which I think it did. I’m in between collections between London and Paris so I thought a beret could be good. But it was embroidered with the finest bugle beads in the world and it took eight men two weeks to embroider by hand!
Topshop: When did you first fall in love with hats?
Stephen: When I arrived at Saint Martins I had no idea how to sew so my tailoring tutor said I should go and do some work experience. There used to be this couture house called Lachasse in London and I arrived there and was working in the tailoring workshop. And next door to the tailoring workshop was the millinery workroom and I asked for a transfer and never looked back. After the first day I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
Topshop: Do you have a favourite piece in the exhibition?
Stephen: My favourite hat has to be the shoe hat from 1938 which was designed by Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali together. It’s like a big upside down shoe with a velvet heel. There’s only three in the world: there’s one at The Met, there’s one with a private collector in Germany and there’s this last one which was actually owned by Gala Dali herself.
Topshop: Have been into Topshop to see our space dedicated to the exhibition?
Stephen: No, I haven’t seen it yet but I really want to come along. Funnily enough, in the Atelier section, which is the workroom in the middle of the exhibition, we have a hat box which is from the store Peter Robinson. And that’s what Topshop was called before it was called Topshop. So in a way, we’ve got a Topshop hat in the exhibition!
Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones is open at the V&A until 31st of May. Spend £80 in Topshop and you’ll get a ticket for free!