Every time I’ve ever spoken to renowned milliner Stephen Jones (and, being a hat obsessive, there have been many times), the excitement in his voice is palpable. He almost sings as he talks about his work, whether it be the mirrored “Disco Hector” hat he created for longtime collaborator Thom Browne’s Spring 2017 womenswear show, or the perfumes he’s launched with Dover Street Market, which, obviously, are wrapped in veils and packaged in mini hat boxes. Even if you think you don’t care about hats, five minutes with Jones will make you completely obsessed.
After studying at London’s renowned Central Saint Martins in the 1970s, Jones, who hails from the U.K.’s Cheshire, emerged as a darling of the London club scene, and ran with the infamous—and always wildly garbed—Blitz Kids. After designing hats for his friends, which they’d wear during their raucous nights out, Jones went on to become one of the world’s most prolific milliners, collaborating with everyone from Jean Paul Gaultier and the house of Christian Dior to Marc Jacobs and Comme des Garçons’ Rei Kawakubo. He’s found a way to pour a lifetime of stories and experiences into each of his painstakingly crafted accessories, and whether it’s a mini top hat or a radiant crown (like the one Lily Cole wore in the Fall 2005 Dior Haute Couture show), his accoutrements not only transform the wearer—they transport her to a world of complete and utter fantasy.
All of this and more comes through in his new book, Souvenirs, out now from Rizzoli ($135). With an intro by Grace Coddington and words by Susannah Frankel, the book chronicles Jones’ triumphs, tribulations, and everything in between. It details the time he was ignored by Madame Grès, celebrates his friendship with the late, great Anna Piaggi, recalls when he designed the crown Kate Moss wore in her first-ever photo shoot, and captures his work with Jeremy Scott on fantastical toppers for Moschino. The best part is that, through sketches, photographs, and Jones’ words, it’s clear that, nearly 40 years after bowing his first store in London, he’s still as passionate about hats and fashion today as he was during his formative years at Saint Martins. Here, Jones talks to Fashion Unfiltered about turning down Karl Lagerfeld, working on Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Dior haute couture debut, and so much more—including a top-secret upcoming collaboration.