He’s a boy from a working-class suburb of Liverpool whose innate style took him to London and around the globe. Stephen Jones is a millinery superstar whose client list has included Princess Diana, Boy George, Rihanna, Madonna and Kylie Minogue.
When the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister, Pippa Middleton, married in May, she chose Stephen to make her wedding veil. He created a floor-length, feather-light slither of tulle dotted with tiny pearls that was stunning in its simplicity. The Duchess of Cambridge has long chosen Stephen’s designs for the races, weddings, state events and other special occasions.
Nicole Kidman also chose a Jones hat when she attended Derby Day in Melbourne in 2012. Her memorable My Fair Lady-inspired outfit was finished off with a wide-brimmed black-and-white hat with a feathery top made from finely shredded recycled plastic bottles and polyester.
@luncheonmagazine . SJ cover story ‘40 years in hats’. Written by @suzymenkesvogue edited by @francesvonhofmannsthal. Here ´Royal Crescent’ a layered bicorne in organza and braid . SS 2012 @stephenjonesmillinery modelled by @zimzimzimmer photographed by @ben_toms styled by #matthiaskarlsson in @walesbonner
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Stephen says he gets his inspiration from everywhere. “For this spring-summer 2017 collection, called ‘Shade’, I was influenced by Cecil Beaton’s photographs taken in North Africa during the Second World War and the beautiful shadows in his black and white photographs,” he says.
Stephen was interested in fashion throughout his teenage years. His father was an engineer and his mother designed gardens and he says his millinery skills combine both backgrounds.
He enrolled at St Martins’ fashion college in London and was in the thick of the 1980s new romantic movement and its highly styled fashions. Stephen made hats for friends at the Blitz nightclub – the epicentre of an era that spawned bands such as Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran. His first well-known client was Steve Strange, the frontman for pop band Visage.
“I designed him a skull cap with a built-in eye patch,” Stephen says. “Club life and my social life were extremely important to me and I probably learnt more from my friends than I did from my tutors at St Martins.”
In the early 1980s, he opened a shop in Covent Garden and he is now based at a nearby Georgian townhouse. A steady flow of rich and famous clients visits his salon, including the late Anna Piaggi, the Vogue Italia fashion editor renowned for her eccentric tastes.
“She had such a love of hats and she would always take them somewhere I could never imagine,” he says. “Dita Von Teese is a favourite because she is really good at dressing up and she understands role-play.”