Monday, 22 February 2010

Stephen Jones OBE

Stephen Jones collected his OBE last week from Prince Charles at Buckingham Paris and looked very smart in his grandfather's top hat.
It made me think of an interview my friend Clara Lacy did with Stephen Jones last year whilst she was studying in her final year of an Illustration degree.
She was working on a puppet and Stephen Jones was very kind to take time out to speak to her regarding his work and influences.

CL:What inspired you to become a Milliner?
SJ: Purely by chance, I was at Fashion school and I couldn’t sew, I went to a Couture house as a tailoring apprentice, and next to the tailoring workroom was a millinery workroom, and I asked for a transfer and after the first day I never looked back.

CL: Did you fall in love with the craft of Millinery?
SJ: Absolutely, and the people making the hats too. They were extraordinary, and it was almost more the character of the people making the hats than the hats themselves.

CL: What is your creative process; do you work through your ideas in drawings or prefer to start building them in 3D?
SJ: Sketch and then move onto 3D normally, but it very much depends which collection I’m working on. Sometimes I’ll do directly into 3D but more often then not I’ll sketch. Just because that’s easier to transport.

CL: Do you have a muse?
SJ: No I don’t, you see I’m very good at adapting hats for certain people but if I made hats to suit them they would suit them too perfectly almost and would not suite anybody else. So yes I do have an idea of a muse but she needs to be more general at one point and ephemeral.

CL: Do you create hats with the wearer in mind as a character or as an individual piece of sculpture?
SJ: Very much the wearer in mind, that’s really what gives birth to it all.

CL: Are there certain influences that you find yourself returning to over and over?
SJ: Each collection definitely has a fresh idea, I do try to make it completely different to the previous one, I do like the idea of it being completely different, but some times I seem to return to my old favourites.

CL: Working on the collaboration with Hussein [Chalayan], did you enjoy the unusual challenge of working with the technology that must have been involved?
SJ: Yes, I was one of a quite big team working on that, I was contacted by Hussein, to give the correct feeling and silhouettes for the particular time periods the hats were going to be for, and it was other people who actually figured out the workings of it. These kinds of things have to be collaboration with the amount of work involved.
Funnily enough, when I was on Foundation at High Whikem School of Art in 1975 puppetry is what really made the penny drop, I find when you are working with puppets because of the movement you really make it come alive.

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