A sea of outlandish hats and headpieces will take over London’s Victoria and Albert museum this spring, when “Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones,” opens on February 24.
This story first appeared in the February 9, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The exhibition marks something of a homecoming for London milliner Jones, who has trawled the V&A for inspiration since his college days at London’s Central Saint Martins.
The show will be mounted in a Michael Howells–designed Baroque garden, which Jones describes as “an Italian garden at night.” It will spotlight hats that run from an Egyptian mask of Anubis, the god of the afterlife, which dates from 600 BC, to Balenciaga hats from the Fifties, on loan from Princess Lilian of the Swedish royal family, to a Dior arrow cloche that belonged to prima ballerina Margot Fonteyn. Current designers including Philip Treacy and Patricia Underwood, as well as emerging milliners Nasir Mazhar, Albertus Swanepoel and Justin Smith, also will have pieces on display.
“Hats denote status and power,” says Jones. “The ultimate symbol of royalty is a crown.”
That said, the milliner notes that one of his highlights from the show is a lowly Tudor serf’s knitted hat he found in the V&A archives. “It’s knitted in exactly the same way as some hats I was going to do for Galliano,” he says.
The exhibition, which will include many of Jones’ creations for designers including Christian Dior and Comme des Garçons, has in turn influenced Jones’ own creations. His spring collection, Vanda, is inspired by the different themes of the exhibition: Inspiration, Creation, The Salon and The Client.
“That’s been weird to do—the originals are so wonderful and I would just copy them exactly,” says Jones. “But there’s always something different in my own collection, be it the technique or the silhouette.”