Stephen Jones, photo Patrick McMullan

Stephen Jones Wouldn't Recommend the McQueen Show to Grandmothers or Children

Milliner extraordinaire Stephen Jones came to New York last week for the Met Gala, a guest of Vogue. While in town, he took the opportunity to inspect the gallery space at Bard Graduate Center, where his own fantastic exhibit will travel next, following the V&A in London, and where I sat down with him for some nuggets of hat wisdom...

On the exhibition, Savage Beauty...
It's sad beyond belief, but also magnificent and wonderful because you can see his clothes in-depth and up close. I mean, I know all about McQueen's work, but I didn't realize it was that good. A dress that I'd always thought was made out of long white sequins is actually made from razor-clam shells. It's much more couture than a lot of things called couture, frankly. Having worked for Dior for so long, I always think all clothes are like that. It's always a surprise when I see other people's clothes and they're not. Sure, a Gap T-shirt is a great thing, but at the same time it's amazing to see that McQueen was at the level he was—the detail, the integrity, the artistry.

On why grandmothers and children should stay home...
Joseph [Bennett], the guy who did Lee's shows, came and did the décor for it, so it's got that power and that darkness and that mystery. It feels really McQueen, even if children might be a bit upset by it. You know, the mask with the red slash of rhinestones going through it is not something you take your grandma to see. The funny thing about my exhibition is that everyone I know took their mothers to it. It's funny, entertaining, not too long, not too much sex in it—very safe.

On the chicness of the Met Gala...
I think people were having a good time last night. It's really interesting to see how people dressed, because actually people dressed really well. In some years there have been some real crackers, but this time it looked quite chic. Everyone was grandly dressed and every woman had a train on. There wasn't someone wearing pink frills or a dress made of lights.

On his favorite hat from the 25 he created for the Royal Wedding...
It was for Lady Sarah Chatto—very Dior New Look, but with an extreme angle, so much that we had to cantilever it. It was gray flannel and her outfit had all been made in the same fabric, even her shoes. I thought it would work well with diamonds or a bit of sparkle. I asked about a brooch and she said she'd bring a few to choose from. So she came in wheeling a trolly, opened it up and there was all this Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Asprey. Then she opened up a box that had elastic bands all over it and that tape that you can punch letters into. Inside was an ostrich plume with diamonds and we knew that was it. Mind you, there weren't on loan. These were hers.

On the British First Lady's aversion to hats...
Samantha Cameron got in real trouble because she didn't wear a hat at the wedding. She never wears hats. I really want to discuss it with her and say, "Look, I think we need to talk about hats." It's not as if she has no neck or a fat butt. She's tall, skinny, graceful and in control, so what's the deal with hats? Maybe she was forced to wear hats as a child, locked up in a room full of them.





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May 08, 2011 00:00:00

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