The exhibition Stephen Jones & The Accent of Fashion is also a celebration of the friendship and countless collaborations between Stephen Jones and the designer John Galliano.
Stephen Jones and John Galliano first met at London’s Blitz club in the 1980s. That was when Jones hung out with Boy George and the band Spandau Ballet. Galliano claims that the snazzily-dressed ‘mad hatter’ declined to make hats for the new graduate from Saint Martin’s School of Art and Design. “He looks at me and said: “I don’t think so, dear!”” recalls Galliano, who has now been working with Jones for nearly 20 years.
This mutual collaboration started with John Galliano and continued at Givenchy, after Bernard Arnault, chairman of luxury group LVMH, made the designer creative director of the Paris house. One legacy of that contribution was the pink heart-shaped hat that Madonna wore to the world premiere of Evita in 1996. When Galliano moved to Christian Dior the artistic collaboration continued.
“I often work through a mirror for most of my decisions and I always see Stephen’s reflection,” says Galliano. “He is reading my every nuance. He is studying my face. I don’t need to say anything – he can read my mind. We are definitely on the same page at the same time – before anyone opens his mouth,” he continues. “At that point there is not much talking. It’s a magical moment. It’s eye contact. We’re like a silent movie.”
John Galliano also wrote the introduction to the exhibition’s catalogue. You can read his text below.
It is my pleasure to introduce you to this exhibition of Stephen Jones’s work, collaborations and fashion friendships.
I have always been a great millinery aficionado, always loved hats and always admired those who create them.
Stephen Jones has worked with me at John Galliano, Givenchy and now Christian Dior for nearly 20 years. We both possess a passion for Millinery and his expertise interprets some of our wildest dreams. Each season I travel to new worlds and explore new ideas, and those ideas need hats. Once the design process begins I explain the concept and story behind the collection to Stephen then watch as he develops new shapes and toiles. He understands my style and shares a similar aesthetic; our reference points stem from English backgrounds and a love of history. Ideas bounce to and from between London and Paris until we have the perfect crown to complete the form we are innovating.
This exhibition is subtitled “The Accent of Fashion”, an apt description for the function that millinery performs so well. From fascinators to fascinating, hats need to catch your eye just as much as they need to serve a purpose and complete the outfit you are wearing. Over the years, Stephen and I have created an astonishing range of hats and developed a creative shorthand, and friendship, that is built on trust and mutual admiration. The complement between fashion and accessory is seen time and time again in my collections on the runway. Hats are as important as a great shoe or bag, and for each collection the partnership between elements must be fresh, new and always relevant to the spirit I am creating. I don’t want any hat – I want the right hat. In fittings our creative conservation explores all the options until we select the winning style. Stephen never gives up. He knows how to create a Galliano hat or a Dior hat and make it the perfect hat – that is what is important and sets him apart.
A hat can be a veil or an alibi, a head turner or a friend. It can give clues, or, like this foreword, serve as the introduction to all the wonder that lies within.