The genius of a British Mad Hatter

I will eat my hat, if you don’t find yourself purchasing a hat, making a hat or simply having a ball leafing through this eclectic collection of hats by British Milliner Stephen Jones OBE.

In the late seventies and early eighties, you would have run into Mr. Jones at the Blitz Club in London, along with other punks and new romantics. Or, you would have found him, in his squat, working away on fantastical hat creations for friends Boy George, Princess Julia, Kim Bowen and others.

He opened his first salon in the heart of Covent Garden with the financial backing of friend Steve Strange and his creative juices have since never stopped flowing. He has collaborated and worked with top designers, created hats for the theater and movies, co-curated the exhibition, Hats: An Anthology, for the Victoria and Albert Museum and the list goes on.

His hats are an exercise in adjectives. They are radical, hilarious, elegant, sophisticated, avant-garde, naughty, ingenious, cheeky, whimsical, modern and always innovative.

I have become fascinated with the creative process, choice of materials and artisanal love and expertise that goes into each and every one of his creations and having always personally loved wearing hats (especially pageboys, bowlers and large slouchy hats), decided to create a few of my own. An experience I will be repeating for all the fun and joy it gave me.

Think about how hats have marked periods of history: the mid 17th century bonnet, or the cloche of the twenties and the unforgettable embellished trucker hats of the aughts. Remember how as children, in our first coloring books, we learned to identify individuals through the symbol of the hat: policeman, school nurse, the Queen. In some cases, the hat and the person have fused together so that you can’t imagine one without the other: Jackie Kennedy and her pillbox hat, Al Capone and his fedora, Tom Sawyer and his old beat up panama. And what about the Pilgrims with their namesake pilgrim hat or Ascot (the Woodstock of hat event’s) or (for those of you that are a little older) the Village People.

How wonderfully fun that the hat has also taken on new meaning via colorful expressions: talking through your hat, eating your hat, hats off, hold on to your hat, hang your hat, old hat, keep it under your hat, wearing many hats and more.

Try putting on a cowboy hat and note the immediate vibe it transmits, or don a little black netted number and it is instant mysterious smoky film noir.

There is an excellent quote by Stephen Jones and it goes like this:

“A hat…It’s the cherry on the cake, the dot on the ‘i’, the exclamation mark..”

And tHAT is tHAT.

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