The Madhatter of fashion comes to town! Stephen Jones.

Exciting news for antipodean lovers of hats, and indeed, fashion!

The Madhatter of London is coming soon…

In March 2010, ‘Hats, an Anthology by Stephen Jones’ started touring the world. Its first port of call is The Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane, from Saturday 27th of March to 27th of June. I HAVE to go and see this one! And if you’re an aussie fashionista, so should you. Read on…

More than 250 hats and iconic headpieces will be displayed from the V&A;’s extensive collection and Jones’s own archive.  Last year the Anthology was shown at the Victoria & Albert Museum from 24 February to 31 May 2009, and over 300 pieces were displayed. Opening night was, appropriately, a Madhatters Ball.

If your response is “WHO?”, Stephen Jones has been called  “the maker of the most beautiful hats in the world” by Anna Piaggi of Italian Vogue.

Born in Cheshire, and schooled in Liverpool, Stephen Jones burst on to the London fashion scene during its explosion of street style in the late seventies. By day, he was a student at St Martins; after dark he was one of that era’s uncompromising style-blazers at the legendary Blitz nightclub.

Jones graduated from St Martin’s School of Art in 1979, and in 1980 opened his first millinery salon in London’s Covent Garden. Those premises soon became a place of pilgrimage and patronage, as everyone from rock stars to royalty, from Boy George to Lady Diana, identified Jones as the milliner who would help them make arresting headlines.

Since then he has produced hat collections twice a year under his label ‘Stephen Jones Millinery’, while also collaborating with some of the most prominent fashion houses and designers of our time.  Jones’s hats have been an integral component in some of the most memorable runway spectacles of the past quarter century.

Such runway successes include the shows of Jean Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood, Claude Montana, Thierry Mugler, Lanvin, Christian Dior, John Galliano, Comme des Garçons, Hardy Amies, Dries van Noten, Chalayan, Balenciaga, Ozbek and Marc Jacobs.
He has also designed hats for many musical performers, including Marilyn Manson, Pink, Gwen Stefani, Beyonce Knowles and Alison Goldfrapp. 

Jones created Kylie Minogue’s truly spectacular showgirl headdresses, and Dita Von Teese’s burlesque mini tricornes. He has designed hats for the Rolling Stones – and for Rei Kawakubo’s Stones-inspired Comme des Garçons menswear collection.

There is an interesting article about the anthology, and an interview with Jones himself that is well worth a read, from the Telegraph.

I chuckled at Galliano’s description about first meeting Stephen Jones, in his tribute to him in last year’s UK Vogue.

Read more about the Queensland Art Gallery exhibition here, and if you’re interested in the process of mounting such a hige exhibit, you can follow the stages in the QAG flickr site.

Something I will defninitely grab is the hardcover catalogue, Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones, which will be available at the Gallery Store and online.

Put it in your diary…and find out when the exhibition is coming to you!

Milan Fashion Week Menswear A/W 2010/11 – Vivienne Westwood

I am absolutely bowled over by Vivienne Westwood’s new mens collection revealed at Milan Fashion Week, and reported on by Runway to Reality and Coutorture, (images by Getty). You can watch highlights of the show on YouTube.

I love the preppy/military jackets with strong shoulders and multi badges, paired with industrial splotched kilts.

She has a cool take on the doti/harem pant trend, again with a great jacket with sharp lapels, in a moody, post-apocalyptic grey fabric. There’s a real street edge to this outfit, and I’d love to see my man in this.
She shows how tartan and kilts can be hellasexy (rawrr!)
There’s even nod to Where The Wild Things Are.
I didn’t like everything in the collection, like the argyle knitted chaps (love argyle, didn’t like the peekaboo design – maybe I’m too staid). I’m not sure the sparkly socks and orange shoes will catch on either. But the striped suits and that sweater with the red skull on the front, will be favourites for many.

Overall there’s a gritty urban feel that is modern and bold. Westwood addresses some contemporary issues too, most notably homelessness and climate change. Slogans on a t-shirt may not effect huge change, but at least she wears her heart on her sleeve, or at least her models’ chests.

I’d like to draw your attention to Prudence Millinery, who alerted me to this new collection, and who was responsible for the millinery in it. Prudence has done a post here on the show and her upcoming projects.  Next up for her is a summer collection under her own label for Liberty in London, and a collection for CA4LA and Weave Toshi in Japan.
Prudence has done really outstanding work over the years, notably for Vivienne Westwood – visit the Prudence Millinery website to be inspired. If you’re in the UK, you might like to take one of her millinery classes too! Or just keep up to date via her blog
Now to take another look at those models, err, the new line again…

DIY military cap

I thought I’d do a nifty DIY for those who, like me, love the military look. I really like those little military caps, but don’t have great sewing skills to make one from scratch. So, I decided to transform an ordinary straw cowboy hat I had lying around, into THIS:

The hat before I started – it was a cheap nasty one from Target.  We’re just going to use the top of the hat and discard the brim.

What you need:
a hat, ruler and pencil, scissors, grosgrain ribbon, paint and glue.
Optional extras: hat elastic, brooch or other embellishment to decorate the hat.
Step 1. Measure your hat across the top…
…and down the side
Decide how deep you want the cap (that is, how high it’s going to sit on your head).
Step 2. Go round the hat and mark in pencil where you’re going to cut it. You want it slightly longer in the front so you get that point (otherwise it will just look like a Fez – fine if you’re in Morocco, but not the look we’re going for here!) It should look something like this:
The hat from the side. See it’s a slightly diagonal line. You may want to mark a couple of different lines, if you’re not sure what depth you want the hat to be.
Step 3. Now it’s time to cut it with some sharp scissors. If in doubt, make it higher than you think you may need it, put it on your head to see what it looks like, and cut more away if need be.
The hat when cut.
If you have a dummy head, or a willing friend to model it, put the cap on to see if it’s the height you want it.

I didn’t like the ‘pinches’ either side of the crown, as they are just too cowboy for my taste, so I decided to get rid of them by steaming the cap. This isn’t too scary, and doesn’t require special equipment, trust me!
Step 4. Bring a pot of water to the boil, preferably with a lid with a small steam hole in it. Otherwise, just put the lid on the pot at a bit of an angle, so some steam can escape from the side.
Step 5. Roll a small towel into a sausage shape and place inside the cap.  This is to keep the shape of the cap. The steam is going to get rid of the pinches.
Step 6. Bring the cap to the steam hole in the saucepan lid, keeping your hand away from the hole. Ok, maybe this is a little scary. Make sure you don’t burn yourself.
Steam until the indents are sufficiently lessened, and put the cap somewhere sunny to dry (as it will be a little moist from the steam). Leave the towel in while the cap dries.
Step 7. I sprayed my hat with black paint – you may want another colour. Either take it out somewhere airy like a balcony to spray it with paint, or you could brush the paint on. I found enamel paint in a spray can adhered better to the straw. Ordinary school paints may just be absorbed. Again, allow to dry.
Now to finish off that nasty raw edge!
Step 8. Measure round the edge of the cap, and cut a piece of grosgrain ribbon slightly longer.  We’re going to glue it around the edge, with half the width of the ribbon either side. I folded the ribbon over first and creased it with my fingers, to help me keep it even as I glued.
Step 9. Glue the ribbon round the edge of the cap – don’t use too much or it will get messy, and spoil the finish. You could sew it instead of gluing – but that’s a lot of work!
Step 10. The cap may just sit fine by itself, but if you want to make sure it stays on your head, you could attach some hat elastic. Measure yourself ear to ear, cut the elastic, thread the elastic through the basketweave of the straw either side of the cap, and knot it on the inside.
Step 11. If you want to further embellish the hat as I did, grab a brooch or similar and pin through the hat.  I bought the skull cameo and metal backing from ebay and glued them together myself. The beauty of brooches is that you can change them to go with different outfits.
And Voila!
The military/geek look in action.
Patent corset: Deadlygirlz aka DGFH7
PVC tie: Gothic Doll tie from Refuse To Be Usual, ebay
I will be doing a DIY on a similar gothic lolita tie a little down the track. The dread/cyberlox wig in the first pic was also made by me. I may post a DIY if anyone is interested 🙂

Mad About the Hat Day, Rosehill Racecourse

Apropos of Melbourne Cup, and my last post having no pictorial content, I present to you a race-related story from the “Mad About the Hat” day last year at Rosehill Racecourse.

Some of us at tables that day were milliners, and judges went about checking us all out, including our headwear. This is my effort, a mini-topper in purple sinamay with black venise lace accent. My purple dress was from Seduce, the necklace from Diva, and brooch and scarf (worn as a bolero) from Myer.

Meanwhile we sipped our champagne, ate our fabulous food, and bet and won and lost on the gee-gees.

Various ladies made it to the finals, but a few had purchased their headwear.  I was one of those who had made her own hat, which gave me some kudos. I came runner-up (perhaps it was too much purple for them?), and won a big basket of Nivea goodies.

So I didn’t win anything in the Melbourne Cup yesterday; I still have plenty of Nivea products that I’m working my way through! I really must get back to the racecourse – it’s such a fun day out, and lovely to have a chance to dress up 🙂

My millinery and workroom

Just taking a quick break from Halloween shenanigans reporting, as I’m in the middle of spring cleaning (very belatedly!). I’ve mentioned that I’m a milliner of sorts, having studied millinery for 2 years, but I haven’t shown any evidence of that.

To whit, some pics of the shelves in my workroom follow. Top shelf:

Bottom shelf:


The only hats I haven’t made there are the mini bowler hat with chains (that’s currently in my icon), and the leopard cocktail hat, that I bought before I’d learned to make them myself.
My craft books, fashion and interior design magazines are squished in behind the hats, because the shelves are deep and space shouldn’t be wasted LOL. If you’re anything like me, your craftroom is full, and materials are stuffed into every nook and cranny.
Yes, I have a thing for mini hats and perchers, and I wear them a lot. The aqua hat with the tribal influence and large beaded eye, I have yet to wear. It’s erm…unique. But this post from Twisted Lamb featuring millinery embellished with skulls and feathers reminded me of it, albeit in a far more successful fashion than my own creation.
I do want to get back to being creative in this area, and selling some of my work, but at the moment travel is getting the priority (and I’m loving it!)
And now, it’s back to spring cleaning…erk…